Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: September 25, 2021
The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class redefines mid-level luxury and is in essence, a scaled-down S-Class replete with impressive road comfort, an army of the latest gadgets and gizmos, and material quality and craftsmanship that you will never find in a Tesla Model S.
Stately and elegant, the new E-Class also suffers from a visually soft and somewhat undistinctive new look like many of the current Mercedes models. Its shoulders are incredibly rounded, the silhouette is far from offensive, the LED headlights are subdued and not shouty, and the rear mimics the larger, more premium S-Class with its chrome bar running the width. It looks great in person but is far from being gorgeous or an instant classic. That being said, the understated appearance should fit the mojo of its intended buyers very well.
The interior on the other hand is a feast for the senses. Mercedes hits another home run with their new steering wheel. The ergonomics might not have been improved, and the touchpad is still frustrating at times where it never seems to highlight what we wanted in the fussy menu system, but the aesthetics and details are astonishing, and the paddle shifters feel expensive and worthy of a premium offering. Like the E 450 Cabriolet we recently tested, this interior design will age very well and will still look fresh ten years down the road.
Here’s how much attention to detail Mercedes has put into their new E-Class. There are motion sensors embedded in the headliner that detect movement, so every time the driver reaches over to the passenger seat, to reach for something in their work bag for example, the E-Class will automatically illuminate the passenger area. And the moment the driver retracts their arm, it will turn the light off. It sounds trite and may be rendered a gimmick, but these are the small things that keep buyers loyal and satisfied within a brand.
While the base model E 350 uses a four-cylinder engine, the E 450 we tested utilizes a 3.0L inline six-cylinder that delivers 362 hp and 369 lb-ft. It works in tandem with a mild hybrid system that consists of a 48-volt battery and integrated starter-generator. These power the car’s electronics, act as both a starter motor and alternator, allows the engine to shut off entirely while coasting at certain speeds and for extended periods of time when stopped. The E 450 runs that output through a 9-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels via its 4MATIC all-wheel drive system.
How does it drive? Well don’t expect a sports sedan. This E 450 has been tuned with luxury, comfort, and smooth driving in mind. In that regard, it’s a delightful success. Every interaction with the car is seamless and polished. The steering is incredibly light so you can waft about town and engage in three-point turns without using any of your body’s ATP. Acceleration comes on gently, but it’s never lethargic or gutless. There’s proper torque when push comes to shove, and it will hit 0-100 km/h in a swift 4.8 seconds. The gearbox is also ten times smoother than its AMG variant. It never stutters on take off, and does not jitter around during low-speed creeps or rolling stops.
Now you might think a mid-size sedan with a six-cylinder engine wouldn’t be that great on fuel, but the E 450 is incredibly efficient. We averaged an impressive 10.3 L/100km over a mix of both city and highway. That’s a number usually reserved for four-cylinders, and we can thank the hybrid system for that, which cuts off the engine quite early when rolling to a stop, and always seems to have a strong charge to let the engine sleep for extended periods of time.
The new and improved E-Class gets revised looks, a lightly upgraded interior with a snazzy new steering wheel, and an incredibly refined and efficient powertrain. The E 450 aces everything that would matter to a business executive, middle-aged adult, or just someone who is looking for a comfortable long distance cruiser for themselves and their family. The E-Class is clearly not as cargo space and functionality-oriented as its GLE SUV stablemate, but this overachieving luxury sedan remains one of the calmest and most comfortable commuting tools we have driven all year.
Model: 2021 Mercedes-Benz E 450 4MATIC Sedan
Paint Type: Cavansite Blue
Base Price: $74,900
Price as Tested: $85,000
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,940 / 1,872 / 1,468
Curb weight (kg): 1,915
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six with mild hybrid system
Horsepower: 362 hp @ 5,500 - 6,100 rpm
Torque: 369 lb-ft @ 1,600 - 4,500 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 10.4 / 7.8
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 10.3
Tires: 19-inch wheels