2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Review of: 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 4dr Sdn E300 4MATIC
2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300: Technology on wheels
By David Miller
Jul. 14, 2017
Mercedes-Benz has been dominating the mid-size luxury sedan segment for decades, and it only adds to that domination with its tenth-generation E-Class. Perhaps Benz felt the footsteps of Audi and BMW creeping close behind them, as they spared no expense with the 2017 E-Class. It’s simply a marvel of technology, with a larger body and the kind of elevated styling typically seen in flagship sedans.
The E-Class provides a glimpse into the future with loads of semi-autonomous technology at your disposal. And we’re not talking simple parking exercises – which it can do at either parallel or perpendicular angles. We’re talking a Drive Pilot system that takes control of accelerating, steering and braking, and an Active Lane Change Assist, which, you guessed it, changes lanes for the driver when the coast is clear.
Depending on the individual controlling the vehicle, all of this is impressive and scary at the same time. The sigh of relief is that the E-Class comes with a new turbocharged, 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that will keep customers yearning for its smooth and steady drive.
Pros & Cons
- + Usable technology
- + Interior design
- + Ride comfort
- - Touchscreen display
- - Price of options
- - Trunk space
The tester provided was the base E 300 4Matic in Citrine Brown Metallic paint. The colour isn’t my cup of tea, but it does justice to the car’s longer and wider shape, as well as its coupe-like silhouette and bold body lines. It looks and is bigger than previous models, but Mercedes’ use of high-strength steel and aluminum touches allow it to keep a svelte trim of 1,765 kg.
This new E-Class isn’t too far off from the styling of Benz’s upper-tier S-Class flagship. The bold front grille and long hood strike a classy tone, rather than a typical sporty, in-your-face look. Sophisticated styling continues in the rear with sharp LED taillights and chrome touches on the trunk lid and back bumper.
Step into the E 300 and you’re greeted by two 12.3-inch 3D colour screens—a big change from the black-and-whites in the previous iteration. The new screens look great in the open and wider-looking cockpit accented with stunning Dark Ash Open Pore wood trim and soft stitched leather seating, touches that are to be expected at this level of luxury. At night, the E-Class sets a relaxing mood with ambient lighting that illuminates the inside doors.
There’s a lot going on inside, and that’s reflected in the many ways you can control the infotainment options, from the Nappa leather steering wheel to the Comand controller and touchpad in the centre console.
The previous screen might have looked dull, but it was easy to figure out; this one takes some time to get used to. Let’s take the radio as an example. I liked the screen that showed who was playing on each satellite radio station, but in order to get there, you had to do one swipe to the right and two clicks, and that’s borderline distracting.
On a positive note, I do enjoy the new control buttons on the steering wheel that allow you to scroll through the screens with the faintest of finger swipes. This is the type of intuitive technology we need in future cars that allow drivers to focus on the road ahead.
Passengers in the front or back have ample space with enough headroom and legroom to stay comfortable. Rear passengers may have to contend with a sloping roofline, but it will suffice for people under six feet tall, with cupholders and a tablet holder in the middle-section fold to keep them occupied.
Trunk space appears tiny at first glance, but there’s enough room for two suitcases and a carry-on. More room is expected from a mid-size sedan; that might be something Mercedes can look to tweak in the future.
The E 300 is loaded with more technology than I’ve ever seen in a vehicle.
The only way to start is with its main feature, Drive Pilot, found in the Optional Intelligent Drive Package for an additional $3,000. Keep in mind that in order to get this, you need to purchase the Premium Package for another $5,100 that includes a rear-view camera, Parking Pilot, panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, the 12.3-inch instrument cluster and Burmester Surround Sound. It’s a lot of dough to hand over, but if you’re into tech, you’ll want this.
Drive Pilot is what makes the E 300 a semi-autonomous machine. To engage the system, press down the handle on the bottom left of the steering wheel. Once set, the car is able to hold steady within the lane, and stay at a consistent speed along with traffic, braking when needed, up to speeds of 210 km/h. All of this is achieved through a 3D centralized camera, ultrasonic sensors throughout the car, and the use of a front and rear radar system.
I tested this system on the highway for a short period of time, and it worked for the most part, even on slight bends. It was better than the previous Acura and Infiniti systems I’ve tested, but it still had trouble with turns over 30 degrees. Most impressive was its Active Lane Change Assist that automatically changes lanes for you when the indicator is held for more than two seconds.
It must be noted that all of these semi-autonomous activities should only be used only when needed. However, I still haven’t figured out when those situations are. Mercedes’ number one priority is safety, but that can easily get out of hand depending who’s behind the wheel. Luckily, every 20 seconds, a notification on the control panel will ask you to place your hands back on the steering wheel. If that doesn’t occur, an audio sound is emitted, and if that still doesn’t work, the car will slow down with its hazard lights on, eventually coming to a complete stop.
Technologies like Drive Pilot, Active Lane Change Assist and Active Emergency Stop Assist are only the tip of the iceberg for the E-300. This sedan also features Active Brake Assist with Cross-traffic function, Evasive Steering Assist, Traffic Sign Assist, Pre-Safe Impulse Side, Pre-Safe Sound, and various parking assists under the Parking Pilot system.
As impressive as its technology is, the E 300 also provides an enjoyable and smooth drive, which is vital for this car, as that technology is just an option, and one that will rarely be in use.
Its turbo four-banger is the only engine offered—a change from the previous V6 version—producing 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque matched to a new nine-speed automatic transmission calibrated for better fuel efficiency. It’s officially rated at 9.5 L/100 km combined; we observed 11.2 L/100 km during our week-long test.
The E 300 won’t be the most powerful accelerator—that’s more for the E 400 and E43 buyer. This smaller-engine sedan provides gradual acceleration and comfort, two key attributes luxury sedan buyers desire. Comfort and Eco modes set the tone for a quiet cruise that can be amped up when needed with Sport and Sport-plus.
What it may lack in aggressive power, it makes up for in the steering and handling department. The E-Class takes corners like a champ, an impressive and uncommon feat for a larger car. It has a well-balanced steering feel and is responsive to driver inputs. Its 4Matic all-wheel-drive system helps you stay planted, and is direct on turns with minimal body roll.
Judging value with a Mercedes product is based on the individual and family, especially when it comes to the E-Class. It certainly isn’t a bargain with a starting price of $61,200 that could be quickly raised an additional $8,100 for the Premium and Intelligent Drive packages.
Alternatively, if you start to consider all the technology and its S-Class styling inside and out, it’s not a bad deal for the luxury buyer. I’m not saying this is an S-Class, but that upper-tier model starts at $103,100, a significant uptick from its younger sibling.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 is a marvel of technology coupled with impressive styling and cruising performance chops. Its engine may have been downsized, but there’s nothing wrong with that, considering its lighter frame and turbo capabilities. Everywhere else, the E-Class elevates its status as the modest luxury choice with plenty of gadgets to play with.