The launch of the heavily revamped Mercedes E-Class has been notable in two ways. First is the availability of the revised E-Class with a choice of two faces – the classic Elegance or the sportier Avantgarde. The former has a slatted, chrome-grilled nose with the three-pointed star perched on top and the latter, a more, uh, avant-garde nose with an oversized badge in the centre of the grille, as per our test car here.
Second is the launch of a station wagon variant at the same time as the saloon. Estates, for some reason, have never quite caught on with the locals, although they have been widely accepted and are wildly popular in Europe.
Perhaps with the updated E-Class, it’s time for locals to wake up to the merits of estate cars. They drive and handle as well as the saloons they are derived from, with none of the excessive weight penalty or unwieldiness of MPVs or SUVs.
Also new to the E-Class range is a 2-litre turbocharged inline-4 developing 211bhp, an identical unit to its four-door sibling, linked to a 7-speed automatic gearbox. This delightful engine is smooth, free-revving and refined. In short, far superior to 1.8-litre engine it replaces.
Drivetrain similarities aside, the E250 estate is a perfect example of how much better (practicality-wise) it is over the saloon. The fully carpeted luggage area is 695L, which is 155L more than the boot of the saloon. Fold the rear bench down, and the total luggage capacity increases to a whopping 1950L. There’s an additional 132L of stowage space under the boot floor, an ideal place to store small valuables out of sight.
To further increase its versatility, the erstwhile luggage area can be converted into a small rear-facing bench suitable for small children of up to 10 years of age, making the E250 estate a useful part-time people-mover for the young family.
While still lighter than a similarly sized MPV or SUV, the E250 estate at 1785kg has a 105kg weight penalty compared to the saloon. The extra load blunts acceleration somewhat, extending its benchmark sprint from zero to 100km/h to 7.8 seconds, or 0.4 of a second slower than the E250 saloon. To me, this is a small price to pay since the estate handles just as well as the saloon in the corners, despite its heft.
Key to that are the upgraded steering and suspension. The new E250 feels more agile, with greater feel and feedback from the steering. The ride is cushy without being underdamped. Gearchanges with the 7-speed auto are seamless, though as Mercedes’ ubiquitous gearbox tends to be, it slurs the shifts even when using the steering wheel-mounted paddle-shifters. Not a failing flaw, but don’t expect lightning-quick gearchanges.
The new Mercedes E250 estate is without doubt worth the extra $9000 over its saloon counterpart. Its extra versatility more than compensates for the minimal extra financial outlay.
This article was first published in the August 2013 issue of Torque.
2013 Mercedes-Benz E250 Estate 2.0 (A)
ENGINE 1991cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged
MAX POWER 211hp at 5500rpm
MAX TORQUE 350Nm 1200-4000rpm
GEARBOX 7-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 7.8 seconds
TOP SPEED 233km/h
CO2 EMISSION 153g/km