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Review: Mercedes-Benz E 220d

Driven June 2017

Review: Mercedes-Benz E 220d

While every manufacturer of note went ballistic with a future plan devoid of fossil fuelled-cars, Mercedes-Benz took a bold decision and continued to pump money into making diesel a viable, cleaner option. So many, many hours of R&D and 2.6 billion euros later, the first of the OM654 family has arrived. Even globally, the E-Class is the first car to get this, which is no surprise considering it’s one of Merc's best-sellers and with a heavy bias towards diesel.

Driving around in this smaller diesel, the first thing that will strike you is how refined this unit is. It needs a bigger diesel badge somewhere than that subtle 220d on the boot lid. It’s supremely quiet – from the point of firing up to settling into idle. At regular cruising speeds, you will hardly hear it, and flooring the throttle results in a note similar to that of a high-performance petrol engine – wonderfully sporty, in Sport mode, of course.

In the E-Class, the engine is just under 2 litres. With just four cylinders, it makes 192bhp at the top and 400Nm of torque. Conservative compared to the 350d’s numbers. But then, don’t go by the numbers because there's more to this car. Mated to a quick and intuitive 9-speed gearbox, power goes to the rear wheels and in a manner befitting a limo. Merc claims a 0-100kph time of under 8 seconds, and it feels that quick.


The downsizing of the engine hasn’t affected the way the car drives. It builds speed with ease. The new gearbox has helped add some urgency into the exercise. Still, it feels almost regal. The steering feels meaty and with the right amount of assistance you need at most speeds. It gets heavier as you reach triple-digit speeds. Clicking the Sport option on the COMAND system allows the engine to rev higher and stay there for longer before the gearbox decides it’s time to change and also changes the steering feel. Hard to tell the latter, though. But you do feel more in control and the engine note helps keep the enthusiast in you happier.

For the passengers, the ride remains top notch. Guess Merc has it all sorted out with the E-Class. It can pretty much smother everything in its path and one can hardly feel smaller bumps and road joints. Compared to its competition, the E-Class' interior feels pretty special. The equipment list is pretty much the same as the E200's, so you get 17-inch alloys and LED headlamps and pretty much every other creature comfort. Compared to the 350d what it misses is a 360-degree camera, Burmester sound system and air suspension.

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One of the biggest draws of this engine is its ability to cut emissions. Merc engineers claim a significant 80 per cent drop in NOx emissions apart from a sizeable cut in carbon emerging from the tailpipes. Diesel emissions have been a major bane for Indian authorities and this engine could be a fine example to uphold the practical value of a fine diesel unit without threatening to melt the glaciers.

The E-Class is Merc’s best-seller in India, and makes up a sizeable chunk of its global sales. With the larger 350d engine taking the E's on-road price in Mumbai to as high as Rs 90 lakh+, there was never a better time to have a smaller-engined car with the E badge. This gets the price of the car down to a more acceptable level. It may not be the hairiest E-Class you can buy, but it certainly is the smartest one. At least for now.

The numbers
1950cc, 4-cyl, diesel, RWD, 192bhp, 400Nm, 9A, Fuel efficiency: 15.4kpl (highway), 0-100kph in 7.8s, 240kph vmax (claimed), Rs 73.63 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)

The verdict
Diesel practicality coupled with petrol-like refinement…what else could you want?

Photography: Abhishek Shringare

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Girish Karkera

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