1 Aug 2002
History may not be so kind to the W211, the E-class that has caused a huge number of customer complaints that centre on a drop in quality, reliability and durability.
Even the ex-CEO admitted to the situation as unacceptable for a Mercedes and in 2005 sales in Europe plummeted as a result.
Part of the W211’s problem was its high technological complexity, which has led to recalls and issues with suppliers maintaining quality control. In fact the company has since dropped the troublesome ‘brake-by-wire’ option.
Of course other aspects of this E-class have been exemplary, such as its performance, dynamic abilities to rival BMW’s, and high comfort levels.
The suspension and drivetrain are essentially developments of what went before, with the exception of the S-class style air suspension now offered at the top of the range.
The W211 is wider and taller, and runs on a slightly extended wheelbase, but the overall length remains the same.
Powerplants are a supercharged 120kW/240Nm 1.8-litre DOHC 16V four (E200K), a 130kW/240Nm 2.6-litre SOHC 18V V6 (E240), a 130kW/45Nm 2.7-litre DOHC 20V five-cylinder (E270 CDI), a 165kW/315Nm 3.2 SOHC 18V V6 (E320) and a 225kW/460Nm 5.0-litre SOHC 24V V8 (E500).
Mercedes tuners AMG also unleashed a 350kW/700Nm supercharged 5.4-litre SOHC 24V V8 sedan and wagon known as the E55.
New, optional features that appear in the E-class include things like ventilated front seats, Distronic cruise control that matches road speed with the vehicle in front, an automatically contouring seat that adjusts to the prevailing driving situation, a climate system that can be set to deliver different conditions to each of the four basic seat positions, and automatic tyre pressure monitoring.
From March ’04 some models – such as the E500 – swapped their standard five-speed sequential shift automatic gearbox for Mercedes’ new seven-speed 7Gtronic automatic transmission.
In early 2005 Mercedes increased the performance and efficiency of its largest V6-engined E-Class.
Dubbed E350, it replaced the E320 in the two-and-a-half year-old W211 range.
The all-new 3.498-litre V6, first seen here in the latest-generation SLK350 late last year, produces 200kW of power and 350Nm of torque – with the latter arriving as low as 2500rpm.
In September a new 3.0-litre DOHC 24V V6 offering 170kW and 300Nm was shoehorned into the new E280 model, replacing the old E240 V6.
At the same time the E270 CDI turbo-diesel stepped aside for an all-new 3.0-litre V6 model known as the E280 CDI, producing 140kW and 400Nm.
This, along with the E280 and E350 petrol models are fitted with the seven-speed automatic.