2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan Road Test Review

By : Trevor Hofmann
  The midsize luxury segment-best E-Class just got better for 2017, a complete redesign resulting in fashionable new sheet metal, more length, less weight, better performance and fuel economy, a much improved interior with class-leading electronics, and more. Our E 300 4Matic tester included upgraded 12.3-inch instruments that blend into another 12.3-inch infotainment display, while standard features include LED headlamps, power-folding mirrors, pushbutton start, a powered steering column with memory, Apple CarPlay, navigation, etc. See it now.......
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
     
 
It must be uncomfortably embarrassing to go up against Mercedes' E-Class. After all, it outsells its
2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
direct competitors so dramatically there's very little contest.

Even mighty BMW pales in comparison, the M-B E Sedan, Coupe, Cabriolet, Wagon and CLS four-door coupe resulting in a cumulative 2,953 sales last year compared to just 2,477 for the similarly diverse 5 and 6 Series models. And that's the very best of the rest, with Audi's A6 and A7 combining for only 1,721 sales, Cadillac's CTS and CT6 twosome managing just 1,130 mid-size deliveries, Jaguar next with (here comes the red-faced embarrassment) just 542 XFs (and that was a particularly good year), Lexus with (it gets worse) 415 GS sales (albeit 2,568 if you factor in the similarly sized yet significantly cheaper ES), Lincoln with 372 Continental and MKS buyers (or 1,492 when including the comparatively inexpensive MKZ),
2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Infiniti with a mere 156 Q70 deliveries, Volvo's beautiful new S90 and archaic S80 combining for a scant 124 units, Acura selling a paltry 107 RLX sedans, and Hyundai group's new Genesis division delivering 55 G80 four-doors (previously the Genesis Sedan) since November.

The most amazing part of this scenario is that most E-Class rivals sell for considerably less and still can't attract much sales chart traction (the aforementioned Lexus ES and Lincoln MKZ some $20k less), the only two costing more being the hybridized Acura and new Cadillac CT6, which are nearly full-size and therefore bumping up against significantly pricier flagship sedans like Mercedes' S-Class when it comes to overall length.

Obviously
2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
it helps to have so many body styles under one sales category, but the alternative E models and CLS don't total anywhere near the sales of the regular four-door sedan, so it's a moot argument. The fact is, Mercedes owns the mid-size luxury E-segment, and after my most recent drive in a nicely equipped E 300 4Matic, I thoroughly understand why.

You're looking at the entirely redesigned 2017 model, which is larger, longer, more accommodating, and faster, yet lighter and more fuel-efficient than its predecessor. I love it when everything comes together for one big positive, which can be said for the new model's styling too.

First
2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
off, I liked everything about the outgoing E-Class' design, especially the Coupe. Fortunately, what I appreciated most about that two-door hardtop carries forward into 2017, the fabulous sedan-like rear window cutout and C-pillar design. I suppose I'm getting off topic being that I'm currently reviewing the conventional four-door model, but it must be said. Where the previous E, in all its iterations, was purposely creased and edgy, the new 2017 model is all about curves and classic Mercedes character, the wide and narrow grille opening, together with its large three-pointed star at centre, pulling cues from many of Mercedes' current models, which inevitably owe their grille design inspiration to the fabulous 1955 300 SL "Gullwing".

That's a theme Mercedes has charted for quite some time, opting for the large star
2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
and ovoid grille to infuse some sporting style into a class that's mostly been about staid, conventional conservatism in decades past. Certainly the W124-based 500 E and mid-'80s AMG "Hammer" that preceded it were hardly traditional luxury barges, nor the many in-house AMG-badged and -engineered E-Class models that have come since, but the majority displayed a relatively tall and comparatively narrow M-B grille front and centre, oftentimes shimmering in chrome, which would be in sharp contrast to the performance-first look of today's E-Class, even this much more luxury-oriented E 300 4Matic tester.

Standard for 2017 is a seemingly F1-inspired lower fascia up front, extended sills down each side, and fat chrome-tipped dual exhaust pipes in back, these items part
2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
of an AMG Styling Package. This said a more luxury-oriented E 300 with a traditional Mercedes grille can be had for no extra charge, along with a classic three-pointed star hood ornament perched on top like Es of yore, this model including subtler fascia detailing front and rear, more conservative V-spoke alloys, and a comfort suspension. The beautifully detailed LED headlamps are standard no matter which E design you choose, but the 17-inch five-spoke AMG alloys at each corner of my tester are $500 upgrades.

That was my first surprise. Not the optional rims, but rather that all the sporty AMG styling bits were standard. My satisfied smile turned into slack-jawed shock and awe upon opening the door, mind you, where the most advanced use of TFT displays appeared more concept car than reality. In one fell swoop Mercedes has upended the entire mid-size luxury segment in similar fashion to how the brand said
2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
goodbye to analog gauges in its S-Class way back in 2012 for the 2013 model, what's left being a much more efficient full-colour, high-resolution configurable TFT display that stretches from the very left side of the instrument panel to the rightmost point of the centre stack. Drama? You bet! If you're a lover of classic design, I recommend hitting the auction and picking up something from Mercedes' past, because the new E shows the rest of its class exactly how to fully step up to the 22nd century.

It looks like one long floating tablet, Mercedes somehow pulling this tech trick off elegantly. Its clarity, richness of colours, and depth of contrast is beyond compare, while the graphics are superb. It sits atop a massive curved plank of open-pore ash, although you can choose from a long list of alternative inlays, any one
2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
of which will extend across the tops of the door panels, the floating theme highlighted by standard ambient lighting glowing from behind (with an optional choice of 64 colours). A tasteful assortment of metals and black lacquers add to the elegance, plus contrast stitched perforated leather trim and upholstery in my upgraded example.

The E 300 starts at $61,200 plus freight and fees, by the way, and comes standard with such a long list of features that I won't dare itemize them all. The 12.3-inch gauge cluster display is optional, the base model utilizing a conventional set of analog dials separated by a 7.0-inch colour multi-info display, while additional E-Class standard equipment includes the full LED headlamps mentioned earlier, plus power-folding side mirrors, pushbutton ignition, a powered tilt and telescopic steering column with memory, auto-dimming rearview and driver's side mirrors, dual-zone auto HVAC, a large infotainment system with a palm-rest style lower
2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
console controller that hovers above a large rotating dial, the latter beautifully finished with knurled metal edges and a finger gesture-capable top. You can modulate the infotainment system from innovative steering wheel touchpad controllers too, while the system incorporates Apple CarPlay, MB Apps, Google Automotive Link, and a navigation system with phenomenal landscape-style mapping (but strangely there's no standard backup camera), the E's other standard items including a gorgeous analog clock, an overhead console with an always appreciated sunglasses compartment, heatable 16-way powered front seats with four-way power lumbar and three-position memory, Artico leatherette upholstery, a powered glass sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, a universal garage door opener, an air conditioned glove box, plus all the usual active and passive safety features including attention assist, active brake assist, blindspot monitoring, a driver's knee airbag, and much more.

Mercedes'
2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
ubiquitous 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder is also part of the entry-level E-Class package, making 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. This is plenty, partly because of the new E's ultra-efficient 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission with sporty optional paddle shifters and standard 4Matic all-wheel drive, but mostly due to the new car's lighter curb weight, now tipping the scales at 1,765 kilos (3,891 lbs) compared to 1,825 kg (4,015 lbs) for the outgoing car.

Notch that up to advanced lightweight materials, because the base E certainly hasn't gotten any smaller, its wheelbase now 65 mm (2.5 inches) longer at 2,939 mm (115.7 inches) and overall length 53 mm (2.1 inches) greater at 4,932 mm (194.2 inches). It's actually narrower by an imperceptible 0.6 mm (0.02 inches) at 2,065
2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
mm (81.3 inches), whereas its 0.9-mm (0.03-inch) reduction in height may add some aerodynamic benefits if any noticeable visual enhancement on its own.

With a 0.27 coefficient of drag the new E is reportedly slipperier than its predecessor, which will aid interior quietness and fuel economy. I couldn't help but notice how silent it was, but I certainly didn't complain about the previous version's audible imprint, while its fuel economy, aided by ECO Start/Stop that shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling, is superb at a claimed 10.8 L/100km city and 8.1 highway. That's an improvement of 1.1 in the city and 0.1 on the highway, although it's still a long way from matching last year's BlueTec turbodiesel-powered
2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
E 250 rating of 8.6 L/100km city and 6.0 highway. That engine has yet to show up for the redesigned E or any other 2017 Mercedes product, the German brand quietly pulling its diesels from our market and the U.S., ironically the same year that British challenger Jaguar shows up here with a new oil burner for its XE and FX compact and mid-size sedans, and the new F-Pace SUV. Right about now Mercedes might be wishing it hadn't dropped its E 400 Hybrid variant for the 2015 model year, but no doubt it was a minor player when it came to sales.

As it is the E 300 pulls strongly off the line and ramps up speed quickly, Mercedes estimating its zero to 100 km/h sprint time at 6.3 seconds, the engine eager to rev and plenty enjoyable to row through the transmission's many forward gears. The
2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
available aluminized paddles allow for a level of driver engagement expected from a German premium car, as do the Sport and Sport Plus driving modes, and the base E's standard sport suspension, now upgraded with a new multi-link design, doesn't disappoint either, combining athletic handling through tight serpentine corners, sensational stability through fast sweeping curves, and a solid stance at Autobahn speeds that's as good as this class gets, with absolutely sublime ride quality, even over rough and unruly stretches of tarmac.

For those wanting more, the E 400 4Matic incorporates a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 good for 329 horsepower, 354 lb-ft of torque, and a standstill to 100 km/h sprint of just 5.2 seconds, while the new Mercedes-AMG E 43 4Matic makes a sizeable
2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
396 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque from the same engine and delivers the 100 km/h dash in just 4.6 seconds, the quickest version also getting special rear-biased all-wheel drive and a sport-tuned air suspension. No doubt a V8-powered AMG E 63, or something similar, will follow soon.

There won't be any waiting for semi-autonomous driving, however, the new E capable of accelerating, braking, and steering without driver input for single-minute durations on rural roads and highways thanks to a new available Intelligent Drive Package that includes Drive Pilot. If you apply the turn signal the E will change lanes on its own too, which is all very impressive considering it uses about half as much hardware (one front-facing radar, a stereo camera behind the windshield,
2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
and rear corner-mounted sensors) as the similar S-Class' self-driving system. There's a catch, mind you, the $3,000 package, which includes Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Distronic Plus with Steering Assist, BAS Plus with Cross-Traffic Assist, Pre-Safe Brake (autonomous emergency braking), Pre-Safe Plus for rear-end collision avoidance, and Pre-Safe Impulse Side, which uses radar sensors to detect a pending side impact and then automatically inflate the outside seat bolster to push the driver toward the centre of the car (the active side bolsters also hug you around corners), isn't available with the E 300, just the E 400 and E 43.

This said my E 300 4Matic tester was nicely upgraded, the $5,100 Premium Package adding the fabulous 12.3-inch TFT instruments mentioned earlier, plus proximity
2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
entry, paddle shifters, a heatable steering wheel, a rearview camera, a sensational 23-speaker Burmester surround sound audio system with stunning brushed aluminum speaker panels, parking sensors, and a panoramic sunroof. If you opt for the latter you can also get the as-tested $4,100 Exclusive Package, which includes illuminated doorsill panels, leather upholstery, ultra-comfortable Drive-Dynamic Multicontour front seats with airliner-style luxury headrests, enhanced heatable front seats, and heated front armrests. Lastly, my tester also featured a $2,600 Technology Package that added auto high beams, active cornering multi-beam LED headlights, a head-up display system, and a 360-degree parking camera, while standalone items included $1,200 worth of climate controlled front seats and $650 heatable rear seats, the latter pre-requiring the former but not vice versa.

As
2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
I've tried to express, the E's cabin is second to none, from its design to the quality of materials used and its overall execution, while the car's aforementioned added length makes it the most accommodating E-Class yet. When I set the spacious driver' seat to my five-foot-eight frame and sat in the seat behind I had a generous six inches of knee room left over, plus three to four above my head. The rear seatbacks are supportive too, especially for the lower back, while I had more than enough room from side-to-side.

If you plan on taking advantage of the E 300's 4Matic all-wheel drive on the way to the ski hill, rear seat passengers can rest assured that both heatable outboard window seats
2017 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
will be available despite the need to expand on the trunk's already commodious 540-litre (19.0 cubic-foot) cargo capacity. Compared to many in the class, which only provide 60/40-split rear seatbacks, the E's fold in the most utile 40/20/40 configuration.

Mercedes goes further than most competitors when it comes to passenger/cargo flexibility, yet the E-Class is easily a cut above all challengers in every other way too. Of course, a new 5 Series is upon us and therefore I'll need to experience its improvements firsthand before fully declaring Mercedes koenig of the mid-size E-segment heap, but at least it's pretty safe to expect that E-Class sales dominance will continue.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)
 
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