Mercedes-Benz E350d LWB First Drive Review

The E-class was Mercedes’s first step on Indian soil and even today it remains the most important sedan in their line-up. Ever since Mercedes came to India, the E has been its most consistent performer and with over 34,000 units sold since its launch in 1995, the E-class is the same to Mercedes, as a daily loaf of bread is to us. Now in its tenth generation, Mercedes has come out all guns blazing with its all-new E-class and have loaded it with tech to make it the undisputed king in its segment. The fact that Mercedes is launching the long wheelbase version, which is only available in China, further exemplifies just how important the Indian market is to the German giant.

Like most Merc sedan’s, the E’s design is inspired from the flagship S-class. As a result it looks almost identical to its elder brother. The exteriors of the E-class look sophisticated, well rounded and more importantly luxurious. Upfront the large gaping grille with the large three pointed star sitting in the centre dominates and gives the car loads of presence. At the rear too the shapely tail lamps, stubby boot lid and the muscular bumper looks really nice and the chrome faux diffuser makes it look sporty too. Although the long wheelbase version gives you loads of space at the rear, it also makes the silhouette of the car look a bit ungainly. You can clearly see, that the Mercedes designers have struggled especially at the rear door which looks abruptly cut and the odd rear quarter glass further exemplifies it. Even the C-pillar looks a bit too vertical especially as compared to the heavily raked A-pillar. This is done not to compromise on rear headroom which has been given more importance over design finesse. Then the wheels, at 17 inches look a size too small for such a large car.

As the new E-class comes in the long wheelbase version it is substantially larger than its predecessor. Wheelbase length has grown by a massive 205mm, its overall length by 184mm. Mercedes engineers have also increased track width by 20mm upfront and 7mm at the rear to help make this limo more agile despite the XXL dimensions.

How is it on the inside?

Let’s move to the most impressive part of the new E-class, its interiors.  The cabin feels spacious, open and crisply styled even in the all-black trim our test car came with. There’s nearly as much space in here as in the massive S-class, and the overall design is similar too. The dash design is elegant, beautifully detailed and well-crafted and the layered effect that the designers have going works a treat. Attention to detail is phenomenal right from the beautifully finished chrome vents to the high definition screen. Quality is top-notch too and the E-class delivers a super combination of materials wherever you look.

The standard touchpad on the centre console works really well and after using it for a bit, it is almost as nice to use as a touchscreen. For those who prefer a more traditional control scheme, there’s the usual chrome COMAND wheel as well. You also get touch sensitive buttons on the steering wheel, which control the main as well as the instrumentation screen.

The front seats on the new E-class is perfectly cushioned and offer good support. But being the first E-class to get long wheelbase, the rear seat is the main priority and it doesn’t disappoint. At the rear the knee-room is just phenomenal and even tallest of people will feel spoilt by the space on offer. These seats recline and adjust for height too which just adds to the overall back seat experience. The wide cabin also means the third rear passenger has enough width to be more comfortable than before. But the occupant of the middle perch will have their feet astride a sizable transmission tunnel and the protruding centre armrest. What really disappoints is the fact that there are no cup holders at the back, especially on car which focusses so much on rear seat comfort.

Boot like the old car is big and well-shaped. But like in recent Merc’s, the space saver spare tyre takes up considerable amount of space.

The E350d will come only in one variant and it gets loads of standard equipment. It gets auto-park, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible COMAND system, both front and back powered seats, 360 degree camera, cruise control, three zone climate control, ESP, PreSafe and several airbags. We would have also liked the E-class to come with lane departure warning with auto steer and powered boot opening which the new Volvo S90 gets.