Mercedes 'cuts' prices to give E-Class an edge as its new diesel debuts here
Published 13/04/2016 | 02:30
Diesels have taken a hammering these past months but there is life in the old fuel yet.
Mercedes have just gone and spent more than €2bn on a whole new family of 2-litre powerplants.
If that isn't a vote of confidence at a time when all the talk is of fuels for the future I don't know what is.
For some reason they have kept quiet enough about it considering the investment and likely impact and effects on its range of cars generally. I don't know why because in one fell swoop they can bat away legitimate criticisms of the older engines being gruff and unrefined in many of their models.
First to benefit from this new 'family' is the new E-Class saloon, just unveiled here on Monday. First off we get the 2-litre E220 (192hp) - which I drove - and we'll sample the E200 (154hp) version in the autumn.
The E220d manages a (claimed) 3.9l/100km (60mpg) with emissions of 102g/km (€190 road tax). That's 13pc better even though power is up (from 168hp). It is also smaller and lighter (31kg).
The E-Class is first with the engines but this new 'family' will be slotted into the likes of the C-Class, A-Class, S-Class as time rolls by.
As I've said it before: these first all-aluminium 4cyls can be game changers for Mercedes. The E220d version was quiet and nicely sprightly on this Irish drive but more importantly it felt more in tune with the new suspension that conveys much better handling to the car. The E-Class was never what you'd call a driver's car, especially compared with the excellent BMW 5-series. It has made significant strides towards being a decent handler now.
There is nothing like an Irish road to sort out a suspension and we were in general agreement this fared much better than we expected.
This mid-size saloon was always an important 'pillar' on the Merc business plan, if you like, but I'd wager it has never been as central as it is now. Especially as they have set their sights on becoming the biggest-selling luxury car maker in the world by next year (I'm sure BMW will have something to say about that).
Hard to believe but as part of this mega push to be No. 1, Mercedes brought out eight new models and six facelifts in 2015, and are planning six new cars and as many facelifts this year.
Another part of the strategy is to kit out cars with the sort of equipment levels people expect rather than having to pick and choose a whole host of options - and then having to wait for their car. I totally agree with that.
Standard equipment (for the Avantgarde 2-litre diesel 192bhp) now includes full leather, heated front seats, parking pilot (park itself) reverse camera, Brake Assist - and nine-speed automatic 9-G-Tronic.
They reckon that the standard spec on the new car is worth €7,000 over the old one.
But with a start price of €52,859 they claim the cost has come down by €850 on the old one. The same will apply to 200d (€50,550 - down €560) when it gets here for the 171-reg period.
There are also Exclusive (€55,210) and AMG versions (€57,650). And there is a E350d from €66,900.
Other versions to come down the line will be an E350e hybrid and a powerful V6 E350d.
I wonder will they be Number One by the time some of those arrive?