Mercedes-Benz E-class,comfort class, launched for the first time in India

Mercedes-Benz E-class,comfort class, launched for the first time in India

New Delhi, Mearch14:The tenth-generation Mercedes-Benz E-class, launched for the first time in India with a long wheelbase, has moved the goalposts to set new standards for comfort and space in its segment. The E-class comes with two engine options – the base E 200 petrol and the top-of-the-line

E 350 diesel. Priced at Rs 56.70 lakh and Rs 70.15 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) respectively, these two variants bookend the E-class range and is essentially aimed at two sets of customers. The E 200 buyer is likely to be almost always chauffeur-driven and hence is mainly interested in rear seat space and comfort, while the E 350d customer wants all the bells and whistles as well as the sublime driving experience only the silky smooth and torquey V6 diesel can offer.

However, that still leaves a massive Rs 13.45 lakh gap in the range which no doubt future E-class variants will eventually plug, but which one will find that sweet spot to form the bulk of E-class sales?

It’s no surprise then that Mercedes-Benz India is readying a base diesel which, like the previous-generation W212 E-class, is likely to be the most popular variant, offering a strong dose of practicality without too much of a compromise on refinement and luxury.

But, unlike the W212, which had the E 250d representing the base diesel in the range, Mercedes-Benz India is offering the lower E 220d as the starting point for the E-class diesel. This suggests that the E 220d will be very attractively priced when it goes on sale around June 2017 and could be priced very close to the E 200.

The E 220’s all-new 2.0 litre, four-cylinder diesel which pumps out 194hp and 400Nm of torque may not have the punch of the outgoing E 250d’s 204hp and 500Nm motor, but again, given the chauffeur-driven focus the new E-class has been conceived for, the new
E 220d’s performance is unlikely to be an issue.

What is a big issue, however, is downgrading the 2.0-litre motor which has been designed for stricter Euro-VI emissions, to run on locally available BS-IV diesel. “It’s such a waste of engineering resource and a step backwards,” said a Mercedes-Benz engineer. The 2,143cc (OM651) diesel engine which powered the previous E-class, was easier to adapt to BS-IV fuel, unlike the spanking new, high-tech 1,995cc (OM654) diesel that’s built to meet the latest global emission standards. In fact, the OM654 made its debut in the latest E-class when it was launched globally in 2016. Its advanced tech includes a unique aluminium engine block with steel pistons, a special low-friction coating for the cylinder walls and a fourth-generation common-rail diesel injection system. At 168kg, it is 31kg lighter than the engine it replaces.

Downgrading a Euro-VI engine to BS-IV standards takes a lot of time and resources but there is no way out until fuel pumps in India get low-sulphur BS-VI fuel which is not expected until 2020. The BS-IV-spec OM654 wasn’t ready in time for the new E-class’ launch and this is one reason why the E 220d is coming a couple of months later. The other reason could be a strategic one. Mercedes-Benz India wants to wait until BMW launches the all-new 5-series expected in June and in a counter move, tweak the E 220d’s mix of specifications, features and price accordingly. A starting price of Rs 57-58 lakh for the E 220d isn’t unlikely, especially since this variant will be Mercedes-Benz India’s trump card in a luxury car segment it seems determined to dominate.