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Mercedes-Benz E-class

W212 Series I

1 Jul 2009

MERCEDES-BENZ went back to the drawing board for its eightth-generation E-class, applying its successful W204 C-class strategy of (mostly) lower prices plus more spec for its W212-series E-class.

Available initially in sedan-only guise from launch the three-pointed star brand also broke tradition by releasing a diesel model, the E220 CDI, as the opening gambit – the first four-cylinder diesel E-class to be offered in Australia.

The performance flagship E63 AMG sedan followed late in 2009.

Released at the same time as the sedan was the E-class Coupe, replacement for the 12 year-old CLK Coupe series. Despite the many visual similarities and some shared mechanicals, the Coupe was in fact a C-class-based product.

The body was longer (4868mm), wider (1854mm) and lower (1464mm) than before – by 16mm, 10mm and 32mm respectively, underpinned by a wheelbase increased by 20mm to 2874mm.

All W212s were rear-wheel drive, with engine sizes ranging from 1.8 litres to 5.5 litres – 6.2-litre AMG cars notwithstanding. All petrol models included direct injection to help cut fuel use by 20 per cent compared with the previous equivalents.

The base petrol at launch, the E250 CGI, was powered by a 150kW/310Nm 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, using a five-speed automatic gearbox.

Next was the 200kW/350Nm 3.5-litre V6 petrol, using Mercedes’ 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission.

The final launch petrol sedan variant was the 285kW/530Nm 5.5-litre V8 in the E500 – also tied to the 7G-Tronic gearbox.

On the diesel front, a pair of 2143cc four-cylinder twin turbo-diesels – known as CDI in Mercedes-speak – made up the two lower-end models, the 125kW/400Nm 2.2-litre E220 CDI, and the 150kW/500Nm 2.2-litre E250 CDI. Both were mated to a five-speed automatic gearbox.

More performance was available from the 170kW/540Nm 3.0-litre V6 E350 CDI, driving the rear wheels via the 7G-Tronic gearbox.

Mercedes applied its BlueEFFICIENCY measures to the E-class, devised to decrease fuel consumption and maximise efficiency.

This included improved aerodynamics (down 0.1 Cd to a world-leading 0.25 Cd for a sedan), alternator ‘management’, direct fuel injection, turbocharging, smaller engine displacements, an on-demand power steering pump and fuel pump, lower rolling resistance tyres, and an optimised air-conditioning compressor.

Some other innovations included ‘Attention Assist’ driver fatigue detection system, ‘Intelligent Light System’ with five different headlight functions, ‘Adaptive High-beam Assist’ to alter light intensity automatically, ‘Lane Keeping Assist’, ‘Blind Spot Assist’, ‘DISTRONIC Plus’ radar-guided cruise control, ‘PRE-SAFE Brake (autonomous emergency braking if there is an acute risk of an accident), and ‘Speed Limit Assist’, which can ‘read’ road-side speed zone signs (although this function is as yet unavailable to Australian buyers).

In January 2010 the E-class Estate wagon arrived in Australia, with a 695-litre cargo capacity with the seats up, stretching to 1950 litres with them folded flat.

April 2010 saw the arrival of the E-class cabriolet, its first ever diesel-powered soft-top, which also debuted a draft-reducing 'AirCap' feature consisting of two components: a windscreen-mounted wind deflector that could be extended 6cm and a draught-stop between the rear seats.

In July 2011 Mercedes introduced further fuel efficiency measures to its four-cylinder line-up including a transmission upgrade to a smoother seven-speed automatic, idle-stop, self-regulating turbo compressor, optimised oil pressure control and reduced friction in belt-driven components for the E220 CDI and E250 CDI.

The E250 also benefited from the more efficient gearbox. All three variants got new steering column-mounted transmission selectors and paddle-shifters. The improvements were good for up to a 0.7L/100km improvement in fuel efficiency (on the E220 CDI).

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