The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is an executive class, or E-Segment car produced by the German manufacturer since 1953, with the official first-generation E-Class revealed in 1993. It is placed in between the C-Class and S-Class, offering a balance of size, luxury, and affordability, making it Mercedes-Benz’s best-selling vehicle.
The Predecessors (1953-1994)
- The W120, made from 1953 to 1962, better known as Ponton 180, is the first of the predecessors, equipped with a four-cylinder engine and high-class interior. A larger engine was provided in the W121 190 from 1958.
- The W110 (aka Fintail) was made from 1961 to 1968, fitted with an inline-six engine or an inline-four larger than the W120.
- The W114 and W115, made from 1968 to 1976, also known as Stroke-8, equipped with inline-six engines in the W114, inline-five or inline-four in the W115.
- The W123, made from 1976 to 1986, was one of Mercedes-Benz's best selling vehicles and highly popular in the 200D and 240D diesel variants. They were famously-reliable with over 2.6 million units built.
- The W124, made from 1986-1994, is another popular model, employing design elements used for the W126 S-Class. In its facelifted variant, it becomes the first E-Class.
The First Generation (W124, 1993-1995)
Following the new naming scheme of Mercedes-Benz, the W124 facelift was rebranded in 1993 as the E-Class. In Australia, it was available in sedan, wagon, coupe and convertible variants, using 2.2L, 2.8L, and 3.2L petrol engines, as well as a 3.0L Diesel engine, mated to either 4-speed or 5-speed automatic transmission, depending on the engine.
Equipment options are tied to the size of the engine:
- E220 is powered by a 2.2L petrol engine and a 4-speed automatic transmission. Equipment-wise, the E220 acts as the base trim. It features dual front airbags, anti-lock braking system, air conditioning, central locking, cloth trim, power mirrors, power steering, power windows (front), and radio cassette.
- E280 and E280 T are powered by a 2.8L petrol engine and a 4-speed automatic transmission. It is equipped with cruise control, CD player and power windows.
- E300 D is powered by a 3.0L diesel engine and a 4-speed automatic transmission. It is similarly equipped as the E280 but adds a driver’s airbag, CD with 10-CD stacker, and leather steering wheel.
- E320 is powered by a 3.2L petrol engine and a 4-speed or 5-speed automatic transmission. It is a step above E300 D and added alloy wheels, leather trim, and power front seats.
- E320 C is powered by a 3.2L petrol engine and a 5-speed automatic transmission. Aside from the equipment already mentioned, the E320 C featured power sunroof.
- E320 CA and E220 CA are powered by a 3.2L petrol engine and a 5-speed automatic transmission.
The Second Generation (W210, 1996-2002)
A replacement for the W124 came in July of 1995 with the W210 E-Class, in sedan and estate body types. It was equipped with many features and up to date technology, such as multi-function information display and multi-function steering wheel. Touch Shift feature of the automatic transmission allowed for the semi-manual control of gears. Externally, the design was updated as well, now with the distinct pairs of headlights. It received a facelift in September of 1999, further improving the mechanical components, as well as revising the exterior and interior design.
The second-generation E-Class was available in Classic, Elegance, Avantgarde and AMG trim levels. This generation offered similar equipment as the previous models but added some notable features, both standard and optional. These features include 3x3 point rear seat belts, audio remote, CD multi-changer, climate control, front fog lights, full-size spare wheel, headlight washers, heated mirrors, lumbar support, PAS, passenger’s airbag, remote locking, service indicator, side airbags, sports seats, steel wheels, steering wheel rake and reach adjustment.
In Australia, E-Class was available with the following powertrain options:
- E230 and E230 T, in Classic or Elegance trim level - 2.3L petrol engine (110 kW, 220 Nm) paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission
- E300 D Turbo, in Classic or Elegance trim level - 3.0L diesel engine (130 kW, 330 Nm) paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission
- E 320 and E 320 T, in Classic, Elegance or Avantgarde trim level - a 3.2L petrol engine (165 kW, 315 Nm) paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission
- E36 AMG - 3.6L petrol engine (200 kW, 385 Nm) paired with a 4-speed automatic transmission
The Third Generation (W211, 2003-2009)
Codenamed W211, new E-Class made its first appearance at the European Motor Show Brussels of 2002. While the external dimensions grew, compared to the predecessor, the third generation offered less interior room, especially in the estate version.
Available trim levels included Elegance, Avantgarde, Classic, Executive, and Sport:
- Classic acts as the base trim level, which is similar to the previous base trim but now includes a space-saver spare wheel.
- Elegance and Avantgarde add headlight washers and metallic paint. Depending on the production year or dealership, some of the additions include body-coloured bumpers, DVD, heated mirrors, leather seat trim, and Sat Nav.
- The executive trim level adds front fog lights and Isofix child seat anchor points.
- Sport trim level includes sports seats.
In 2006, E-Class received a facelift, focusing on fixing technical issues of the original. There were issues with the Sensotronic software, and so it was removed. The Pre-Safe system became standard equipment. NECO-PRO head restraints, flashing brake lights, tyre pressure monitor were other safety features added with the facelift. The front was redesigned with a new spoiler, grille, and headlamps, while the rear received new lights. The interior received a new steering wheel and rear-view mirror, together with minor touches.
Powertrain options available in Australia include:
- E200 KOMPRESSOR in Classic, Elegance, and Avantgarde trim levels - 1.8L supercharged petrol engine (135 kW, 250 Nm) paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission
- E240 in Classic, Elegance, and Avantgarde trim levels - 2.6L petrol engine (130 kW, 245 Nm) paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission
- E270 CDI in Classic, Elegance and Avantgarde trim levels - 2.7L diesel engine (130 kW, 400 Nm) paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission
- E320 in Elegance and Avantgarde trim levels - 3.2L petrol engine (163 kW, 315 Nm) paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission
- E500 in Elegance and Avantgarde trim levels - 5.0L petrol engine (225 kW, 459 Nm) paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission
- E55 AMG - 5.4L Supercharged petrol engine (350 kW, 699 Nm) paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission
- E280 CDI in Classic, Elegance and Avantgarde trim levels - 3.0L diesel engine (140 kW, 440 Nm) paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission
- E350 in Elegance and Avantgarde trim levels - 3.5L petrol engine (200 kW, 350 Nm) paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission
- E63 AMG - 6.2L petrol engine (378 kW, 631 Nm) paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission
The Fourth Generation (W212, 2010-2016)
With the fourth generation, E-Class was available not only as a 4-door sedan (W212) and 5-door wagon (S212) but also as Coupé (C207) and Convertible (A207). Styling changes from the previous generation now incorporate rectangular headlights, sharper lines, and more aggressive look overall. The rear end uses design queues from the Ponton to both remember and pay respect to its predecessor. Interior was changed to a lesser extent, but with more space and plenty of high-tech features. Safety-wise, the E-Class (W212) got excellent scores from Euro NCAP, IIHS and NHTSA.
Trim levels available worldwide include Standard Trim, SE, Executive SE, SE Edition 125, Sport, Sport Edition 125, AMG Line, Elegance, Night Edition, AMG Sport, Avantgarde, and Avantgarde Edition 125. In Australia, the offer was limited to Elegance, Avantgarde, AMG, and Night Edition.
- Base equipment includes some new features like driver’s knee airbag, 17-inch alloy wheels, dusk-sensing headlights, electric top, hill holder, power mirrors with indicators, PreSafe, rain-sensing wipers, sport seats, and wood-grain trim.
- Depending on the engine size, Elegance and Avantgarde trim level come with optional or standard features like multi-zone climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels, body kit, keyless entry and drive, power mirrors with indicators and folding, reversing camera, premium sound system, sports suspension, and television.
- AMG equipment comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, active/intelligent cruise control, multi-camera system, power-adjustable steering column, performance brake, and a power sunroof.
- Night Edition adds features similar to the AMG.
In 2013, E-Class received a facelift across all models, with redesigned LED headlights and taillights, as well as revised front and rear bumpers. The interior received a redesigned instrument cluster. A new steering wheel was installed with the gear selector moved to the steering wheel column.
Powertrain options in Australia include:
- E250 CDI - 2.1L diesel engine (150 kW, 500 Nm) paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission
- E200 CGI - 2.0L turbocharged petrol engine (135 kW, 270 Nm) paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission
- E250 CGI - 1.8L turbocharged petrol engine (150 kW, 310 Nm) paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission
- E250 CGI - 2.0L turbocharged petrol engine (155 kW, 350 Nm) paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission
- E350 - 3.5L petrol engine (225 kW, 370 Nm) paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission
- E400 HYBRID - 3.5L petrol engine together with an electric motor (243 kW, 620 Nm) paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission
- E500 - 5.5L petrol engine (285 kW, 530 Nm) paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission
- E220 CDI - 2.1L diesel engine (125 kW, 400 Nm) paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission
- E350 CDI - 2.0L diesel engine (170 kW, 540 Nm) paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission
- E63 AMG - 6.2L twin-turbo petrol engine (386 kW, 630 Nm) paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission
- E63 AMG - 5.5L twin-turbo petrol engine (430 kW, 800 Nm) paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission
The Fifth Generation (W213, 2017-present)
The current E-Class was first revealed at the North American International Auto Show in 2016, with styling inspiration taken from both the S-Class and C-Class. Design-wise, it goes back to smoother lines and edges but keeps some of the aggressive queues of the previous generation.
Semi-autonomous driving is facilitated by a series of sensors, cameras and radars. Intelligent Drive, or Drive Pilot, helps keep the Mercedes-Benz on a safe distance from vehicles in front and between the lines.
Several innovative safety systems are provided for the latest E-Class, including Active Brake Assist, Evasive Steering Assist, Car-to-X Communication, Pre-Safe Impulse Side, Pre-Safe Sound, and many others.
Standard and optional equipment depends on the engine size and marking (E400 has more luxury features as standard compared to E200) and includes:
Active Body Control Suspension, Airbag Knee Driver, Apple CarPlay, Active Steering, Adaptive Damping Control, Ambient Interior Lighting, 19-Inch Alloy Wheels, Bluetooth Connectivity, Brake-pad Wear Indicator, Cross-Traffic Recognition, Collision Warning - Full Auto Brake, Driver Fatigue Detection, Lumbar Support, Impact-Sensing Auto Door Unlock, One Touch Convenience Turn Signal, Paddle Shifters on Steering Wheel, Run Flat Safety Tyres, Satellite Navigation, Surround Camera System, Speed-Sensing Auto Door Lock, Tyre Pressure-Loss Warning System, Traffic Sign Recognition, Ventilated Rear Seats, Wood Grain Trim, Air Suspension, HUD, Metallic Paint, and Panoramic Sunroof with Power Blind
In Australia available powertrain options include:
- E200 - 2.0L petrol engine (135 kW, 300 Nm) paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission
- E220 d - 2.0L diesel engine (143 kW, 400 Nm) paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission
- E250 - 2.0L petrol engine (155 kW, 350 Nm) paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission
- E300 - 2.0L petrol engine (180 kW, 370 Nm) paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission
- E300 Bluetec Hybrid - 2.1L Hybrid-diesel engine (225 kW, 700 Nm) paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission
- E350 d - 3.0L diesel engine (190 kW, 620 Nm) paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission
- E350 e - 2.0L hybrid-petrol engine (210 kW, 550 Nm) paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission
- E400 and E400 4Matic - 3.0L petrol engine (245 kW, 480 Nm) paired with a 9-speed or 7-speed automatic transmission
- E63 AMG S - 5.5L petrol engine (450 kW, 850 Nm) paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission
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Author: Luka Kusic