The perennial favourite of ‘towkays’ gets a makeover.
In the face of stiff German luxury car competition, Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the facelift of its highly popular E-Class, an upmarket sedan synonymous with rich Chinese ‘towkays’ that love everything ostentatious. And showy the new E-Class is, as it sports a revised styling and an update to its engine.
Working hard at appealing to the car’s intended target segment in a bid to cajole them to eschew their dowdy appearance of batik shirts, black man bags and thick gold chains, Mercedes-Benz has place great effort in making the new E-Class more stylish.
Gone are the quad headlamps that have been a key design feature of every E-Class model since the 90s and in comes a pair of 'double hook' LED daytime running lights, housed together with new HID headlamps to make the car look a tad more sporty. Alterations to the grille have also been made, with the car now available in two variants; with the sportier two grille version available as standard, while the traditional bonnet-mounted star version with a four-piece grille is available as an option for the classic ‘towkay’ who thinks that more is always better. Rounding up the front design is a newly shaped bumper that offers improved cooling efficiency.
As for the interior, little has been changed save for some minor tweaks. Opting to err on the safe side of things, Mercedes-Benz employs a more traditional approach to things, with a generous usage of gray-scale trim in a bid to pacify the not so happy traditionalist of a ‘towkay’ who has grudgingly accepted the car’s modernity in design. But it certainly works in the brand’s favour, as a stylish and sporty exterior draws “oohs” and “aahs” from Mr Tan’s envious peers while a subdued interior offers him a more down to earth surrounding to make him feel at home. Best of both worlds I’d say.
Also found inside this car are switches and knobs finished in a metallic trim to provide that classy contrast. One would also realise that the electronic shift lever has been shifted from the console to the steering column to free up space for a pair of cup holders as well as the COMAND system control knob, which is somewhat easier to use than the previous one. As for space, head and leg room are aplenty, though one of the three rear passengers would have to contend with the transmission tunnel. Rounding it off is a generous offering of 540-litres worth of boot space.
In terms of performance, replacing the 1.8-litre engine is a new 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a seven speed 7G-Tronic automatic transmission. With 184 bhp of power and 270 Nm worth of torque, the car goes from nought to 100 in 7.9 seconds. In the car’s default Eco mode, the car’s power delivery is noticeably retarded, but things get progressively better when switched to Sport mode.
On the move, the car moves with great refinement and comfort, as required of an upmarket luxury sedan, but when pushed hard, the car does seem to feel a tad ‘floaty’ which can be unnerving when negotiating a bend. There is also noticeable body roll, but in all honesty, this car was never meant to be driven hard, as ‘towkays’ want less of the ‘go’ and more of the ‘show’.
The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan is by no means revolutionary, in terms of design or performance, but it is definitely comfortable and luxurious. With a stylish design in terms of exterior aesthetics and a down to earth and classy interior, the car does offer the best of both worlds, albeit contrasting. Although the car lacks excitement in driving dynamics, it compensates with its sophistication and refinement, truly the E-Class is what an upmarket luxury car should always be, stately and regal.