The Straits Times Car of the Year 2016

E for elegance

The new Mercedes-Benz E200 measures 5m front to back.
The new Mercedes-Benz E200 measures 5m front to back.PHOTO: ST FILE

If a car is judged by its looks alone, the new Mercedes-Benz E-class is clearly a winner by a long mile.

There is no executive sedan out there that comes close to matching this regal and sporty-looking four- door. From any angle, it is a visual feast, with every nuance in its sheet metal reminiscent of the sinewy curves on a Greek statue.

The new E is an Apollo among its peers, measuring almost 5m front to back. Its sheer size does not diminish its dynamic appearance. Rather, it seems to enhance it.

The sensory treat continues inside. Flowing lines of the cabin are highlighted by an LED glow, bright enough to make a point, but not so much as to appear garish. The Start button resembles a rotary shaver head, encased in enamel and lit like a photon thruster on a starship.

You will find a new instrument display - in the same vein as Audi's "virtual cockpit", but much more modern and stylish. It is exactly like what you have been seeing in wild concept cars. Except that it works.

 
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  • SPECS / MERCEDES-BENZ E200

  • Price: $258, 888 with COE

    Engine: 1,991cc 16-valve inline-4 turbocharged

    Transmission: Nine-speed automatic with paddle shift

    Power: 184bhp at 5,500rpm

    Torque: 300Nm at 1,200-4,000rpm

    0-100kmh: 7.7 seconds

    Top speed: 240kmh

    Fuel consumption: 6.3 litres/100km

    Agent: Cycle & Carriage

The infotainment screen is huge and glorious, with a navigation display unlike any other.

It tells you where nearby amenities are and, when applicable, automatically goes into street-view mode, complete with 3D renditions of buildings and street furniture.

On the go, the new E is on more familiar ground, but still has enough improvements to entice.

Its extended wheelbase of 2,939mm (65mm more than before) translates to more legroom for rear occupants.

It also translates to a limousine-like ride - softer than others in its class, with slight waterbed tendencies. Surprisingly, it holds up well to cornering and braking forces, allowing the driver to take liberties without upsetting passengers.

In fact, the E-class handles more naturally than the more compact and supposedly more dynamic C-class.

Its chassis responds linearly to steering inputs, even if there are moments you forget the car's extraordinary wheelbase and length.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2016, with the headline 'E for elegance'. Print Edition | Subscribe