The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class on test for Changing Lanes!
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class on test for Changing Lanes!

Launched back in 2016, the current generation of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class is known as a leader. With over 14 million E-Class Saloon and Estate models delivered since 1946, the E-Class is the best-selling model series in the history of Mercedes-Benz and considered by many as the ‘heart of the brand’.

It’s no surprise. This large luxury saloon hit its stride in 2016 with the launch of the tenth generation E-Class, widely acclaimed as the epitome of style, comfort and refinement. But even leaders need to keep themselves sharp with the pace of competition in the motor industry at the moment. So it was time for the E-Class to take a trip to the tailor for a fancy new executive suit.

Hybrid power is a strong theme as is a digital technology upgrade for even more wow factor behind the wheel.

 

 

What’s new for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class?

The E-Class is the bestselling model for Mercedes-Benz in Ireland. In late 2020, the brand launched a refreshed version of this executive classic, while also using the opportunity to launch two ‘EQ Power’ plug-in hybrid models on the Irish market – the E 300 e (petrol electric hybrid) and the E 300 de (diesel electric hybrid). The petrol hybrid now has a higher capacity battery, more power and more torque. It hits the market at a time when hybrids are big news and now can drive for longer on electric power – up to 50 km.

The latest E-Class has had a few styling tweaks for 2021. The refresh includes a slight redesign of the front grille and headlamps for a more youthful appearance in line with other models in the Mercedes-Benz range like the A-Class, upcoming C-Class and flagship S-Class that launched here at the beginning of 2021. At the back, there’s a new bumper, split tail lamps and a new boot lid. Full LED headlights and taillights are fitted as standard. Subtlety is the name of the game here but stately presence is non-negotiable.

The E-Class has been updated for 2021 with more hybrid power
The E-Class has been updated for 2021 with more hybrid power

Inside the latest E-Class

Inside comes a well-appointed interior that is still a class example of modern contemporary luxury, something Mercedes-Benz does so well these days. Cabin finish is impeccable as you would expect of a high-flyer like the E-Class. There are new trims for the interior too and a new steering wheel design. Supportive seats with leather upholstery come as standard, ideal for settling in for a long motorway cruise.

The latest-generation MBUX and ‘Hey Mercedes’ multimedia and voice-activated assistance systems also feature. Displayed on two large, high-resolution multimedia screens, both come housed beneath a shared glass cover that creates a widescreen cockpit effect. It’s simply stunning.

Unfortunately boot space suffers in the hybrid to accommodate the battery, down from a very respectable 540 litres – in a diesel E-Class for example – to 370 litres in the E 300 e, with an awkward step in the boot. Otherwise this is a roomy and luxurious large executive saloon that will thrill all on board!

Pricing starts from €53,645 for the E 200 d, while the E 300 e plug-in hybrid range starts from €61,830 with a high level of standard equipment. The E 300 de diesel plug-in hybrid range starts from €63,755.

The interior of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The interior of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Hybrid power in the E-Class

Mercedes-Benz Ireland expects the focus for the Irish market to be the tried and tested E 200d and 220d diesels, and the new E 300 e/ E 300 de plug-in hybrids. I can attest to the success of the Mercedes-Benz E 220d from previous experience, with diesel still being a reliable choice for power and economy in this class of vehicle.

Yet times are changing with electrification becoming the default way for car manufacturers to bring down emissions and offer customers more flexible, environmentally friendly options.

Powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, combined with a 13.5 kWh battery and electric motor, the new Mercedes-Benz E 300 e puts out a healthy 320 hp and 700 Nm of torque. CO2 emissions are just 37g/km so this model qualifies for motor tax of €140 per year. Times are changing!

Simply gorgeous!
Simply gorgeous!

Driving the Mercedes-Benz E 300 e

On the road the E-Class shows exactly why it’s still a benchmark in its class with excellent comfort and refinement making it an absolute pleasure to drive. It soaks up the motorway miles, moving over the tarmac like the big, elegant saloon it is. There’s a pleasantly positive delivery of power by the E 300 e, made all the more special by the knack of the electric motor to give smooth, linear acceleration, while the 9-speed automatic gearbox never misses a beat. It is beguiling how quiet this car is to drive around town.

The E-Class might look the business but it’s not the most dynamically exciting car in its class. Yet rear wheel drive agility still makes it an interesting large saloon to drive.

While diesel has typically been the go-to in the large premium saloon segment, the new Mercedes-Benz E 300 e returns some impressive economy. Over a week of driving, with some motorway runs included, my average fuel consumption was between 6 – 6.4 l/100 km.

The beauty of this car is that because it’s a plug-in hybrid you can experiment with charging it and driving it on electric power alone, for example when driving around town or on short commutes. In this scenario, there’s up to 50 km of range available. With an on-board charge port with a capacity of 7.4 kW, the battery can be charged in 1.5 hours using a wallbox or in five hours using a conventional domestic power socket.

The Mercedes-Benz E 300 e is available from €61,830
The Mercedes-Benz E 300 e is available from €61,830

Did you like it?

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a fine car and highly desirable for its comfort, refinement, and high-end cabin experience. The updates for 2021 bring a healthy digital and technology upgrade to the car making for an even more glamourous cabin. It covers the road like a dream, making it a fabulous way to travel!

The new E 300 e is a wonderful execution of Mercedes-Benz values – electrified. However, the diesel E-Class is also a highly capable vehicle with great returns on economy. So, whether buyers are ready to pay the premium for new plug-in hybrid technology, and start their own journey to electrification, remains a very personal matter. But either way the E-Class is a magnificent car!

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class - full of mystery and magic!
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class – full of mystery and magic!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz E 300 e Plug In Hybrid
Price: 
€61,830
Engine: 
2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
320 bhp
Torque: 
700 Nm
0-100km/h: 
5.7 seconds
Top speed: 
250 km/h
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 
37 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year