The Road Ahead : April May 2007
PRICES & FEATURES CORRECT AT TIME OF PRINTING. SEE RACQ.COM/NEWCARS FOR MORE NEW CAR REVIEWS. DRIVE TIME MOTORING STATS AHEAD PRICE: $101,500 SAFETY: Dual-stage front airbags, dual-row side airbags, cur tain airbags, pre-safe accident system, electronic stability control (ESP), anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake distribution (EBD), brake assist (BA) and outer seatbelt pretensioners. KEY FEATURES: Cruise control with speed limiter, dual climate control, alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, seven- speed automatic, rain-sensing wipers, CD stacker. ENGINE: 3.0-litre, V6, turbo-diesel. MAX. POWER: 140 kW @ 4000 rpm MAX. TORQUE: 440 Nm @ 1400-3200 rpm 0-100 km/h: 8.7 seconds 80km/h-STOP: 23.4m FUEL (ADR FIGURE): 7.5 litres/100 km FOR: Ride handling refinement economy FOR: REVIEW CHRIS BISHOP The 'E' in E Class used to stand for excellence. This compelling model from the German car-making giant was once the stuff of legend. But decisions on cost-cutting and the pursuit of challenging new technology affected quality to such an extent, the company was forced to promise to lift its standards. The latest E gives mixed messages on build. The paint and panels are exemplar y and the quality of the interior looks much better, however a rattling dash and crackling radio in our test car did not inspire confidence. Much of the package is only subtly changed, which means safety is still a strong point. Refinement, even with a diesel engine, is a byword, and the dynamic abilities of this vehicle never fail to surprise. Only a slight lessening of its impeccable ride quality points to a new suspension tune. The steering is now more direct and rewarding, while E still grips well and offers minimal body roll. The brakes also work better and, with priming, hill-holder and dr y-wipe functions, the sedan was exceptional in emergency tests. That diesel is a delight, with a wide torque band and the ability to launch meaningfully from as low as 1300 rpm. The seven-speed box blurs the gear changes with style and keeps the car close to peak outputs. Also impressive is that it ways around 1715 kg, yet can use fuel like a small car. The E's ergonomics are simple and effective. Practicality is a plus too, with a full-size spare wheel and other thoughtful touches. Passenger room is good, oddments storage space is not bad and the boot is big. The front seats are still firmer and flatter than some rivals, while the centre rear spot is typically hard and uncomfor table. On the downside, its security levels could do with a kick along, while the diesel sedan misses out on some of the goodies coveted by luxur y buyers. The restyled E is sharper to drive, yet retains Benz's trademark levels of comfor t. It also looks to have turned the corner on quality. The old E can rest in peace.
June July 2007