Tuesday 6 December 2016

Industry fears fuel price hike

But the efficient and frugal E-Class Mercedes will help combat any future woes

Martin Brennan

Published 28/08/2016 | 02:30

Mean Machine: The E-Class Mercedes is highly fuel efficient, low on emissions and therefore on road tax, and a real joy to drive.
Mean Machine: The E-Class Mercedes is highly fuel efficient, low on emissions and therefore on road tax, and a real joy to drive.

Worrying talk in recent days speculates that budget cuts in the USC could lead to higher taxes. One option, apparently, is to increase the price of petrol and diesel by 18pc, with a VAT increase of 2pc.

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The motor industry is just recovering from one of the most difficult recessions and any tax hikes in either fuel or goods would be a very damaging blow, which could spin into another cutback in sales.

Hardest hit would be the buyers of the top executive models, which are currently achieving big sales due to PCP arrangements, so the Society of the Irish Motor Industry will have to take a hard stand if these proposals get any traction.

Ciaran Allen and his sales team at Mercedes Benz will be thanking their lucky stars that their new large executive model, the E-Class, now comes with some very soothing statistics on the money front.

A big seller will be the 220d automatic, which, considering it is loaded with driver aids and hi-tech equipment, has a very competitive selling price of €52,850 in the Avantgarde trim.

There is further good news. The two-litre diesel puts out only 112g/kg of C02, which attracts a low €200 in road tax and Mercedes Benz claims that the fuel consumption figures can be as frugal as 3.9L/100km (72mpg) when combined with the nine- speed G-Tronic automatic transmission.

In real-world test-drive figures, this turned out to be 60mpg, which included some enthusiastic driving. But the engine has not been tuned down to get these figures.

It produces 194bhp, with 400Nm of torque on tap, and the 0-100km sprint takes just over seven seconds. It is zippy enough for most drivers, with a top speed of 240kmh which is double the national motorway speed limit.

The slippery lines and a cut in weight of 100kg over the previous model, give record-breaking aerodynamics, which, along with the good performance figures, means that the interior is calm and hushed, even at high speeds. Tyre noise does intrude on high-speed drives.

As a competent performer, the E-Class comes up well against strong competition, such as the BMW 5 Series, the Audi A6, the Jaguar XF and the Volvo S90. It is not surprising that it is doing so well in the sales charts and there are other engines to choose from.

It is longer and lower than the previous model and narrower too, although it does not appear so inside, and there is more cabin and luggage space. Comfortable seats make driving a pleasure.

The test car had the AMG exterior pack, which gives it a more aggressive look with 19ins twin-spoke alloy wheels added, while the interior pack gets more equipment.

Standard items include parking pilot, reversing camera, satnav, keyless start, full leather upholstery, adaptive brake assist, heated seats, Mercedes Me Connect (remote online) and LED high-performance headlights. The AMG kit pushes the price up by a hefty €4,800.

The test car had a full parking pack (€1,107 extra) which includes a 360° camera, a great benefit when parking as it shows distance from kerb and other vehicles. A panoramic roof at €3,266 is unnecessary and OTT pricewise.

A comfortable executive model built for driving in comfort - and a car that will have excellent residual values.

Sunday Independent

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