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LEAD: Motoring: INTELLIGENT EXPEDITIONS

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Mercedes E200

The long-anticipated all-new Mercedes-Benz was launched earlier this year in South Africa. At first sight, the new E-Class is easily mistaken for the current C-Class. That is until you realise that it is actually a fair bit bigger than the C-Class. The new look is in keeping with the new design that Mercedes has started since the launch of the new S-Class a few years ago.

To start, the front end has been totally revised. The headlights are now one big light that looks like it has been split internally. They each have two separate LED lights that look like eyebrows. Each section also has a full globe that looks amazing with the optional LED lights. If you really have extra funds to spec the vehicle, you can opt for colour-changing LED surround lights so your vehicle can express your mood. The side view looks smooth and the waistline crease dissipates as it gets to the rear. The lower crease rises as it stretches towards the rear and continues into the rear bumper. This gives the vehicle a sort of distinguished, sporty look. The rear end looks almost identical to the C-Class, just larger. Smooth sculptured rear lights fit snugly into the rear end. The section between the rear lights are finished with chrome trimming; so, too, are the lower section of the bumper and exhaust surrounds.

Like other Mercedes-Benz, you can spec the outside to either look sportier or more elegant.

Open the door and you are welcomed by plush leather seats and an open plan cockpit. There is no gearshift in the centre console but rather a raised section that houses the armrest and Mercedes Command controller. This new controller has a touchpad that doubles as a hand rest below which the usual dial controller is placed. The biggest challenge to any of its competitors is the huge infotainment screen. The screen is so big that in split mode, each section is larger than any of its competitors’ 100% screen. If that’s not enough, you can order the vehicle with a full screen, which means the semi-digital dash display is replaced by a screen that will effectively stretch almost 60% the length of the dashboard.

The section just below the screen houses four circular air vents that are reminiscent of the original E-Class. In the drop-down middle section of the dashboard are the ventilation controls and in keeping with the classy look, there is a classic clock as well.

The seats are comfy and have sufficient support for any driving condition. You find the perfect seating position easily. The rear seats have ample leg room and comfort for three adults. The interior ambient lighting can also be customised to almost any colour you prefer. If not available on the standard menu, you can actually create the colour by mixing the shades yourself – from red to yellow to blue and anything in-between are at your fingertips.

On the road, the vehicle drives well and absorbs almost all the irregularities with ease. The vehicle has the typical Mercedes drive but does not feel as big and bulk as the previous generation E-Class to drive. The only time you realise how big the car actually is, is when you’re parking. The road holding has improved dramatically; unfortunately the same cannot be said about the steering wheel feedback, which remains dull. Its true size also comes out when loading, as the boot just swallows almost any luggage you throw at it.

The two-litre turbo-charged motor purred instead of growled but seemed to manage to pull the vehicle at a decent pace. It may not be earth shattering but it will cater adequately for the traditional executive who is not looking for thrills on the road.

On the whole, the new E-Class is a big improvement over its predecessor. Not only does it look and drive better, but it also features some great a new technology. The elegant lines and abundance of space will ensure that the executive looking for a medium-sized saloon will definitely add this to the list of potential buys. That is, if not to the top of the list.

Mercedes E200 – Specifications

Engine:2,0 ℓ  4-cylinder Turbo
Power:135 kW
Torque:300 Nm
0–100 km/h:7,7 Seconds
Fuel:Average 6,3 ℓ /100 km
CO2:142 g/km
Price:From R707 100

AUTHOR | Torque Talk is a member of SAGMJ