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Today I visited my Mercedes Benz dealer in order to participate in their E-class showcase for the brand new 2010 E-class.
In addition to a 4 door sedan which is basically a scaled down S-class featurewise, Mercedes has decided to simplify its portfolio by nixing the CLK and producing an E-class Coupe
based on a combination of the E class technology and the C-class underpinnings.
Both of these E-classes have entry prices far below the cars they imitate. While these prices are definitely reasonable, I had many lingering thoughts as I left the event about both cars that I needed lots of writing space to express.
There is plenty to love about the new E-class…plenty to be annoyed with, but, considering these awesome prices, I have no doubt Mercedes is going to sell plenty of E-classes this year and next. EXTERIOR DESIGN
I never liked the dual headlamp design of the E-class past. It just didn’t appeal to me and I could never get excited about this line of cars. I had the same problem with the old Jaguar until the XF brilliantly changed all that with much more modern, polygonal light fixtures.
When I first saw the 2010 E-class, I was excited because Benz changed the lighting fixtures, towards the S550’s lines, similar to the job they did on the new C class. In fact, the E-class looks like a beefier version of the C with its signature dual lamp fixture design cut to fit this new rhombic style.
What did not make me very happy was the new style of daytime running lamps – and “L” shaped bar of LED’s where the fog lamps ought to be. So out of place are these lamps that they are akin to fitting a square peg in a round hole. The only E classes that will come with these LED’s are the “sport kit” models while the base E will come with regular circular fixtures. Two of them…???
Why not simply cut out rhombic fog lamps to fit the rhombic/ polygonal cut outs in the air dam?
And what the hell have they done to the back of the car?
The rear polygonal lighting fixtures look like they have been snatched out of the Hyundai Sonata parts bin. In fairness the car looks a lot sexier in person than in pictures, but, that’s because its overall dimensions are rounder than flat. Still, I’d have just one with a similar interpretation of the C class or S class rear end.
This car looks a lot like the S550 inside and out when you consider the chiseled rear end and the sharp contrast between the tints and the chrome, but, because of many mismatched design cues, you won’t ever mistake them for each other. People who hated the S550’s hockey puck shaped wheel wells will be happy that the new E-class doesn’t have them but, as I see it, Benz took a little too much from the Ocean Drive concept when they added Dodge Charger-esque lines to the side body rather than simply allowing those S-class bulges to stay. Of course, what can be said is that the car does maintain a muscular, ultra luxurious look.
Overall, I love the new front end, but, it feels like the design team from the front end and the design team for the rear end weren’t talking to each other and only at the end of designing did they try and put their two concepts together.
Lots of action up front - lots of "boring" out back. Its a shame that even the new C-class by comparison looks better planned.
The front lighting fixtures and projection headlamps are beautiful, showy and adorned with bling - with that little Benz emblem sitting atop the hood like a crown jewel. CENTER CONSOLE
Technologically, the 2010 E-class borrows heavily from the S-class 550 with most of the same features of the 550, but more buttons. As an S-class owner, it was very easy for me to see right away the alterations made between the two cars, although some of those alterations I appreciate and some I wish Benz hadn’t bothered to change.
The S550 has 90% of the controls for the seats on the door: heating, cooling, seat adjustments, etc. The only seat controls not on the door are for fine adjustments to the lumbar, massage settings and the driver dynamic modes which must be done using the Command knob.
So why, if you are obviously attempting to recreate the design from the S550, do you take the seat’s cooling, heating and head rest drops (backseat) to the center console?
Why do you take the S550’s telephone pad holder, put it in this new E-class, but, make it nothing more than a switch to open the armrest ? Why do you take the phone keypad and place it on the center console and recreate the outdated look of the old E-class’ center console?
Why do you bother to recreate the COMMAND knob of the S550 if you place a second silver knob for your radio on the center console?
Why do you recreate the design of the S550’s climate control switches if you move them so low on the center console that one would have to strain to see them? It’s a great thing that new Benzes have automatic climate control because simply increasing/decreasing the temperature here, or activating defoggers would require you to take your eyes off the road for significant time.
It feels as if the people who designed the 2010 E-class interior wanted to build a more affordable S-class, but decided to keep so many design elements from the old E-class that they actually ruined the streamlined, clutter-free design that they wished to duplicate from the S.
Don’t get me wrong… its nice to not have to use the COMMAND knob to navigate the radio stations instead of just being able to push the basic [tune] and [seek] buttons. But, why remove the arm console’s quick access volume switch? There are so many daunting options for radio stations with XM that trying to navigate through them becomes nearly impossible and you’d end up simply sticking to presets – never listening to anything new.
The old E-class’ main control center – copied almost directly from the S500 of the time - may have been button laden, but, at least it maintained a common theme amongst all the controls. This new model comes across looking overly cluttered and pedantic. What’s worse is that if you don’t have every single option such as “parktronic” or “power sunshade”, you end up getting blank filler buttons that not only don’t do anything , but, basically let visitors to your car know that you went cheap when it came to selecting options. THE SEATS
In the new E-class, the seats are plenty comfortable and plenty supportive. The standard 14 way power front seats, while not heavily bolstered, can be equipped with the optional Driver Dynamic seats last featured on the S550. The DD seats inflate and deflate air bladders to add bolstering as needed when you round sharp turns.
These seats also provide a massage mode that can be very relaxing if you find yourself sitting in city traffic. If you can afford this option, definitely go for it because it will help your resale value, and because it will give you one extra piece of enjoyment when you compare your car to the others on the road.
There are 3 different memory settings for both front seats and on the side of the seat bottoms are a 4-way lumbar adjustment. Although I think the lumbar adjuster would’ve been better kept in the COMMAND system, the seat design is still kept streamlined and clean.
If you hit the heating button or the cooling button, the seat’s reaction was almost instantly noticeable and your bottom quickly begins to cool. Add these soft, supportive, climate controlled seats to the car’s automatic climate controlled interior HVAC and the window’s reflective tinting, and it becomes obvious why you rarely see driver’s of car’s like this with their windows down. Being inside this car is like being inside a leather clad refrigerator, or, a Holiday Inn hotel room. You want cold? You got it ! You want warm? Coming right up ! The HVAC in these cars is outstanding.
As far as noise goes, even at highway speed, you won’t hear much more than your conversation or your iPod playlist. Even with the cabin music on full blast, I was barely able to hear what was going on outside the car. STEERING WHEEL and DASHBOARD
The steering wheel again, is mostly S550. The two pads on the wheel can call, hang up, increase/decrease volume, or navigate the COMMAND system’s options – a task better left to the center console knob.
Unfortunately, again, Benz has ported over the S550’s shift knob as well as the overall design of the turn stalk, cruise control stalk and the motorized steering wheel adjuster. This is all fine and good, but, when you add the sport shifter paddles, you end up with a cluttered design.
Why not have the sport shifters or the transmission stalk instead of both? This way, you’d simply stop the car and shift down to place it in Park or Reverse rather than ever fumbling to hit the right control. The parking brake is electronic after all and these car’s computers are smart enough to know when to and not to go into neutral or reverse.
The Dashboard of the 2010 E is lovely, with sport styled, chrome rimmed easily readable gauges, but, it’s a shame that Benz didn’t give you the same multifunction display that they give you in the S-class. While this new model’s dashboard works well enough, the COMMAND system information feels more comfortable when its directly ahead – especially since the steering wheel control pads let you control the voice activated features and radio. Apparently, the E class will eventually get a digital dashboard like the S550 further down the road with the Nightvision Assist option. (Not available at present)
The center gauge is a driver information display illuminated in blue that shows current temperature, transmission setting and direction of travel. A compass is also on the upper right hand of the rear view mirror. This display, just like the previous E, shows you radio settings, reminds you not to leave your key behind and warns you of engine situations that may arise. TECHNOLOGY
The COMMAND system is pulled straight from the S550 and most of the major features are slightly improved upon. You’re center console knob controls the Navigation system (why isn’t it a touchscreen?) and allows you to press in multiple directions or roll it left/right to quickly access console functions such as sound tone, phone book, video screen details and system settings. I plugged my 3G iPhone to the glove compartment’s Apple connector and the car’s computer quickly recognized my phone’s music library allowing me instant access to it. This system also works with USB connecting MP3 players - allowing you to browse the song lists on the main screen.
I was very happy that the new COMMAND system features a convenient back button to help reduce the number of dead ends you’d run into navigating the user interface.
The E also features a 6 disc CD changer that will also play DVD’s through the main screen while the car is parked.
Taken from the previous S-class are numerous features such as PRE-SAFE which, in the event of an emergency situation where the computer detects an impending collision and does numerous things such as adding air to the brakes to assist emergency braking; choosing to partially apply the brakes itself; automatically rolling up the windows if the car rolls over; and automatically calling the authorities for help through its “SOS” system which has been moved to the moonroof area from the S550’s armrest compartment placement.
The new features in the E are “ATTENTION ASSIST”, “BLIND SPOT ASSIST” and “LANE KEEPING ASSIST”.
Attention Assist (optional) supposedly monitors long term steering characteristics of the driver (about 20 minutes of learning) enough to recognize a drowsy driver. The car will sound a loud alert and vibrate the steering wheel to wake you up before an oncoming semi does.
Blind Spot Assist is a little more useful in the short term – a feature I’ve seen on other cars – which simply illuminates a hazard triangle in the corner of your mirror if you attempt to change lanes and a vehicle approaches your blind spot. This is determined through the ultrasound technology used in the parking assist.
Lane Keeping Assist uses computer scanners to decide whether or not you’ve inadvertently left your lane. This is an option, and like Attention Assist, this is only necessary for people who do serious driving during late night hours hoping that that last cup of Joe will keep them from meeting their maker. What I can say, is that I’m happy that the new S-class 2010 also features Blind spot assist, since the new mirrors are larger and easier to maneuver such a large car into and out of lanes with.
Parking Assist takes the typical ultrasonic parking sound emitters and adds a small bar of Led’s in both the front and the rear to help you park without chipping your car’s bumper on someone else’s car. Just pray they have the same feature in their car. DRIVING THAT “E”
Mercedes Benz has managed to keep the divide between the E350 and the E550 very narrow, which will at least help buyers who go for the V6 model be satisfied with their purchase. The E550 upgrades the exhaust on the E350 to integrated polygonal dual exhausts (like those on the LS460); adds the AIRMATIC suspension and premium leather.
The rich E550 contains a 5.5Liter V8 that outputs an awesome 382 HP@6000 rpm while the miserly E350 contains a 3.5 Liter V6 puts out a decent 268HP @ 6000 rpm.
Despite the fact that this car contains numerous body stability systems such as “agility control”, “airmatic suspension”, and electronic stability control, I really felt that the new E350 ride quality was unremarkable, despite its firm European feel and its stiff, well controlled body motion.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great, comfortable drive – but, it certainly doesn’t reach the steering feel of the BMW 5 series, nor, does it cancel body roll through corners as well as the BMW 7 Series – a car much larger than the E. E350's acceleration is good for a V6, but, this is most likely a car older, less aggressive driver’s will appreciate as a solid, luxury car to get from point A to point B.
The E550 however is where you want to be if you want serious “fun to drive” aspect and can front that extra $8000. The E550 delivers instantaneous thrust with its 391 lb-ft of torque and fortunately, Mercedes, like the S550, seems to do a great job of making that instant thrust feel effortless. I have absolutely nothing to say about the smooth shifts of the 7-speed automatic inside. It works, it does so quietly and that’s all it has to do. Press the pedal even halfway and you’ve got easy overtaking power which I doubt most Benz drivers will be quick to use while they are enjoying those interior sights.
With a few button taps on the center console, you can either stiffen or loosen the damping for a sportier or more comfortable drive, or you can deactivate stability control for added driver control. You can use those paddles to upshift when you want to, but, I found them almost unnecessary on the 350 when under 50 mph. You’ll have to wait for November’s E-class AMG model with its 516 HP V8 to really find out what this car is all about. That is…if you’ve got $85,000 to spend.
The S550’s Distronic Plus also makes a return here. This adaptive cruise control allows the car to not only automatically manage acceleration and deceleration according to the surrounding cars, but, Mercedes’ system is the only one that lets the car come to a complete stop behind the next driver – and then accelerate automatically as the next driver accelerates. It’s a marvelous system, but, for obvious reasons, you won’t want to use it going into toll booths or in city traffic if you end up behind someone willing to run a red light.
As I stated before, driving this car with all this stuff you want to, and may need to interact with may get a bit fuddled because of the amount of buttons and their placement, but, for the most part, if you reduce your inputs to features that you can easily reach without looking down (or up), you’ll be fine. As far as I’m concerned, all of the driving options (the “assists”) should be simple to toggle on or off using COMMAND. The whole point of Command is to simplify user interaction between the ever growing number of features Mercedes Benz is stuffing in its cars with a simple to use point and click interface. So why the hell did Mercedes Benz add more and more buttons for features you wouldn’t normally use for a regular drive?
Is it really necessary to have a whole button on the center console whose sole job is to change from comfort to sport mode – lowering the car a couple inches? Couldn’t that be something I leave on automatic from within the computer?
Should the toggle for the ESC really be in between the air vents of the center console? Does the passenger need to turn it on and off?
Can we make things simpler please? SAFETY
This car feels supremely solid, just like its bigger brother. The distance sensing system associated with Pre Safe has the ability to supply up to 100% of braking effort if it believes you are going to crash into something. While it can not prevent a crash outright, it does provide an electronic buffer zone to decrease your injuries.
Like the S550, there are obviously marked cut points for firemen to use the jaws of life should you get into a ridiculous accident involving a brick wall.
Like the S550, there are multiple airbags with multistage sensors – including driver’s knee bags and the new “pelvic” airbags for both driver and passenger should you get hit by a car of similar size and height.
Like the S550, there are first aid kit compartments directly under the front of your seat.
The “Neck Pro” head restraints can be lowered or raised for head comfort using the side panel controls for the seats and in the event of a crash they become active restraints – pressing forwards to reduce whiplash as your head snaps back.
There are buttons to automatically call Mercedes Benz for roadside assistance or to notify Mercedes Benz of God knows what-type of emergency but, I warn you… if you are speeding and get into an accident, your insurance company will be notified of everything from the location of the accident, to your seatbelt status, to your maximum “delta-V” (speed), so don’t bother attempting to lie – they will know it all. PRICING
Mercedes Benz is currently taking orders on the E350, 550 and the Coupe models, but, the car isn’t going to be officially launched until the end of this month. You can order a car now, but at present, build prices aren’t available and the salesmen aren’t completely trained to answer every technical question (as I learned when I inquired about the seat options).
You can also choose the body kit you want: AMG or base. Otherwise, both the 350 and 550 come with a boatload of standard features such as standard Navigation, glass sunroof, multi-way power seats and heating/cooling. Expect the price of the 350 to start at $48,000 and rise to $54,000 with all options. The E550 will start somewhere above $55,000 with the major options being the Attention Assist, Blind Spot Assist, dynamic seats, Nightview Assist, and Distronic Plus. OVERALL
There are numerous things I can say about this car that I haven’t said already. Its got great space for tall drivers like myself. Its got great space for stocky drivers like myself. It has a great interior feel and its got great headroom for passengers. The trunk is large enough for your suitcases and even has the optional automatic trunk closer.
Though It doesn’t feel as wide and as spacious as the larger S550, what you are getting here is an excellent deal considering that you can get everything you’d have gotten in the $90,000 S-class for less than $55,000 in the E350.
But why-o-why did they copy the S550 halfassedly?
Why is it that the S550’s clean, button laden interior was ported into this cluttered, pedantic mess?
Would it have been so hard to simply give those of us who dream of owning an S-class, a smaller, less expensive S-class that retains more of its signature looks? Benz did that with the last generation of E class… they copied almost directly from the S500 without ruining the new style. Unfortunately, the last generation of S-class was a knee jerk reaction to the new BMW 7 and Mercedes ended up with a glamorous mess in its last generation of cars. The S550 however is ultra-clean and ultra-luxurious with an interior style so opulent, it resembles a lavish hotel room. Copy that design and improve upon it – don’t reinvent the wheel and mess it all up !
While the 2010 E-class is definitely an upgrade over the 2009 model which surprisingly retails for almost $5000 less than the 2009 model, it is obvious that more work could have been done on both the interior and the exterior.
It breaks my heart to have to take away a star from this car. I loved so much about it, but, simultaneously hated so much about its design. The sharp contrast between the silly design elements and the tremendous power and comfortable ride make this a love/hate relationship as complicated as a 30 year marriage.
Someone needs to tell Benz and BMW that "more buttons" doesn't nescessarily mean a better car.If you are a previous E-class owner, or a technophile/rich person, The E-class will give you every bit of "Mercedes Benz" quality you'd expect from the top of the heap of their last generation of cars. Lexus doesn't have anything on this new E and neither does BMW.
However, if you're a regular, retiree driver who just wants a safe car with high quality interior quality, the sea of buttons won't impress you so much as it will daunt you.
If you’d like to read my review on my current car, the S550, please click here: http://www.epinions.com/content_252095073924
I have a much more detailed description of the COMMAND system here and the safety features I outlined that are carryovers.
The next review I write will be about the 2009 E class Coupe. http://www.epinions.com/content_474287869572
Plenty more disappointment / enjoyment to be had there too.Other cars I Recommend Looking At Lincoln MKS
- http://www.epinions.com/content_434429988484 Hyundai Genesis - http://www.epinions.com/content_438811790980
- http://www.epinions.com/content_412862549636 Dodge Charger
- http://www.epinions.com/content_415682760324 Chrysler 300
- http://www.epinions.com/content_405173603972 Honda Accord
- http://www.epinions.com/content_403808751236 Cadillac CTS
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