MercE40036

With the W212 facelift, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class range has finally gone all turbo. While Mercedes-Benz has embraced the downsized force induction formula with its Kompressor (then CGI) range of engines which represent the lower end of the engine line-up, it’s relatively late to the game with applying the formula to its larger engines.

So while the E 200 K became the E 200 CGI and now just called the E 200 with the new range of 2.0 litre turbo engines, and even the V8s were given the downsize and turbo treatment, the 3.0 litre and 3.5 litre V6 engines soldiered on as normally aspirated units.

The 3.0 litre found in the pre-facelift W212 E300 and its larger sibling the S300L actually isn’t even found in ‘developing’ countries anymore. While sounding pleasant when you gun it versus its four cylinder siblings, the E300 just feels gutless next to rivals like the 535i and A6 3.0 TFSI.

So the phasing out of the E300 to give way for the new E 400 is very welcome. And most interestingly, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia has chosen to locally assemble the car, making it the most affordable in its class at RM493,888 versus the 535i’s RM599k and A6 3.0 TFSI’s RM515k price tags.

Why CKD such a car that will probably be very limited in volume? According to Mercedes-Benz Malaysia, it’s surprisingly easy to add on variants to the W212’s production line once everything is set up. The engine module comes as a whole unit and it’s relatively plug and play. Even diesel or hybrid CKD variant could be added to the production line if they wanted to.

When the W212 facelift was launched the press kit spelled out a whole list of new driver assist and safety features that were making a debut with the car. It was a big deal as it’s pretty rare that Mercedes-Benz introduces new features in a facelift version of the E-Class instead of letting them debut on the new generation S-Class.

The thing is the W222 S-Class was scheduled to be unveiled a few months after the facelift E-Class was to be launched and Mercedes-Benz didn’t want to wait.

The higher price point of the E 400 in Malaysia allows it to be a showcase for these new systems. The surround view camera is particularly useful. There are four cameras around the car – one on each side.

Not only can you switch the video feed between the front, rear and side cameras, but you can also view the objects around your car from a birds eye view. You’d really have no excuse to be parking out of the box with this car, and is seriously impressive to the passengers as well.

Given that in other markets the E 400 is actually treated as a replacement for the normally aspirated V8, it’s nice to have a big engine upgrade to the flagship non-AMG E-Class. I was very curious to find out if it was any good to drive.

You’ve already read Hafriz Shah’s facelift E-Class review based on the E 200 and E250 by now. If you haven’t, please do read it first as it covers more on the changes between the pre-facelift and facelift car in general.

This story will focus on the E 400 variant and my findings are rather much the same, except for a bigger kick in the rear (100km/h in 5.3 seconds) when you put the pedal to the metal. Other than the bigger horses up front, the E 400 doesn’t get any fancy suspension tweaks over the E 200 and E250, despite being kitted out with an AMG Sports exterior and wheels.

Unlike the C-Class which gets an adjustable suspension because Mercedes-Benz used hydraulic suspension technology for the adjustable option, the W212 E-Class facelift calls for the use of AIRMATIC if you want an intelligent suspension, and Mercedes-Benz Malaysia has chosen not to spec this, and understandably so.

Despite its wonder, AIRMATIC can scare a buyer off, with its typically five digit replacement costs if anything goes wrong. An S-Class buyer may be prepared to deal with it because of the different buyer profile but perhaps not an E-Class buyer.

So the E 400 gets the same Avantgarde suspension as the E250, which ends up being a little twitchy during undulations and high speeds. Now because the E 400 reaches those speeds a lot more easily, and with that engine you’ll probably get the urge to do it more often too, you’re reminded of the car’s downside in dynamics more often. There’s also the matter of the engine, while having plenty of output, is rather muted in its delivery.

The E 400 is actually more impressive in town due to its ability to so effortlessly pull away from a stand still rather than on the highway. Overtaking is also made so ridiculously easy that it would probably be dangerous getting into a lower powered car after driving this. But even at medium speeds, the roar from those big and wide sports tyres intruded rather noticeably into the cabin. I’d much rather trade that for some louder V6 rumble please!

I’d also trade that rear entertainment system integrated into the headrests in a heartbeat for an overall upgrade of the speaker system. The rear entertainment system is the same system in the S300L and it cannot do much, other than play DVDs or take a video feed from RCA input.

At this price point, the E 400 buyers may expect something like the Harman Kardon sound that the S300L gets as standard rather than the system that it was specced with, but perhaps that’s what had to give to achieve the ‘most affordable in class’ status.

Overall, a great mid-cycle update to the outgoing E300, and nothing’s been lost in the revision, but instead you get lots of gains. We’re big fans of the new 3.0 litre twin turbo V6 but it deserves a more impressive chassis setup to go with it.

We look forward to it enhancing the drivability of the other Mercedes-Benz models in Malaysia when they get updated – cars like the ML 350, CLS 350 and S 350 come in mind.