All change as Mercedes sets sights on new buyers
By now you probably know that the "new" Mercedes E-Class, which gets here towards the end of next month, has undergone the most far-reaching revision for any model in the history of the marque.
Encapsulating just how sweeping a change this is – though it is not, strictly, a new car – it is the end of the road for the signature two-piece headlamps. They are now replaced by a curvy one-piece unit.
Also much changed are the front bumper and bonnet, as well as the three-pointed star, which now resides either on the bonnet (Elegance trim) or in the middle of the grille (Avantgarde).
In its way, the famous star shows the way Mercedes is thinking about this mid-size prestige saloon (and estate). The Elegance version holds the line and appeal for its more traditional, mature buyers. But the marque needs newer, younger purchasers. So we have the more dynamic look of the star in the Avantgarde grille. This trim costs about €1,000 more, by the way. Prices generally are up just 1.5pc on the outgoing model, so you are looking at a start of around €44,000.
Under the skin, Mercedes has been busy with the suspension settings – and the car felt the better for this.
It has also increased equipment levels and put in revised engines under the bonnet.
We know these lumps well from so many models now, so there's no massive change there. This "new" E-Class is all about design, looks and safety technology.
Several elements of the latter come from the new S-Class, which has yet to be launched, so E-Class drivers are getting a first in this respect.
The marque expects to sell 900 this year, despite the late start. Underlining its importance is the fact that the E-Class accounts for 50pc of all Merc sales in Ireland.
Cabin changes include a redesigned centre console, new instrument cluster, multifunction steering wheel and higher-quality materials. You can configure it in myriad ways to suit your tastes.
The big-selling engine will be the E200CDI (136bhp), followed by the E220CDI (170bhp) and E250CDI (204bhp) diesels – all with four cylinders.
There's a choice of 6-speed manual and 7-speed automatic transmissions. The saloon gets here first, with the estate (5pc of sales) in April and coupe and cabriolet versions on the way.