DRIVEN: W212 Mercedes-Benz E 400 Avantgarde


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.

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Paul Tan

After dabbling for years in the IT industry, Paul Tan initially began this site as a general blog covering various topics of personal interest. With an increasing number of readers paying rapt attention to the motoring stories, one thing led to another and the rest, as they say, is history.



  • seancorr on Feb 18, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    This will be a very low volume seller. Nothing really exciting except for the surround view camera and a powerful engine. I still think the 528i M-Sport is a better choice for driving dynamics and it has a Harman Kardon sound system and HUD as standard.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 6
    • Malaysian Being Cheated Again! on Feb 18, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      How this car can become about Rm500k? Tak ada logic. In the US, the E350 (302bhp) which is pure CBU Made in Germany cost USD$51,800. Bear in mind this is 100% Made in Germany. So roughly, this is Rm150,000.

      In Malaysia, the CKD E400 car cost RM500,000. Nearly 70% of the car must have Malaysian parts to comply with the CKD regulations. So, even with Malaysian parts, the car can cost RM500,000? About 3.5X the price the E350 is sold in the US?

      Somemore, the US price is for CBU Germany. Also, the US government already collected its taxes and the US MB dealership already collected their margin and profit on this car. So, how come in Malaysia it is RM500,000?

      To make matters worse, MB Malaysia will get it far cheaper from MB Germany AG direct. So, maybe the car is even bought at USD$30,000. CKD somemore, it will be cheaper.

      So how much is MB Malaysia really making? If taxes and duties max out at 130%, how much is really MBM really making?

      If E350 is not good enough for you, we can compare with the very advanced E400 Hybrid. That is sold for USD$56,700 for CBU German. It produces 329hp and has the economy of a Civic Hybrid.

      Are Malaysians being cheated?

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 84 Thumb down 12
      • why Piss Off on Feb 18, 2014 at 10:05 pm

        Why do you need to compare here and compare there ? If you want to go US, pergilah US, buy a car there.

        Some of you are just trying to be smart, please do take note that most of readers here know car price oversea.

        So what do you want to tell here, ask us to boycott and not to but car in Malaysia? Don’t shout shout syok sendiri, tell us what action you want to take?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 120
      • Obviously on Feb 18, 2014 at 10:34 pm

        Always being cheated. But what will it matter? You still see these sorts of cars on the road and it will only encourage the companies to do this more and more. These cars are like status cars. Having one, especially at this price, will say something about your abilities so they don’t mind the price tag. When you’re shopping for luxury, you don’t say “wah, this doodad is so expensive!” The salesman might just tell you to leave. So Malaysians getting cheated might be their own fault.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1
      • Bobby on Feb 19, 2014 at 1:39 pm

        Based is $56,000 USD for E400. Specced up like this should be around $60,000 USD.

        60k x 3.3 = RM198,000
        RM198,000 + 10% import tax for CKD = 218k
        218k + 105% excise for 2.5 liter above = 447k
        447k + 10% = RM491,590

        Yes, you’re right, perhaps MB gets it a little bit cheaper to earn more than RM7,000 per car.

        As far as we know, car makers don’t MAKE A LOT selling cars here. Especially when Malaysians wanted everything except paying.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 3
    • maseratti on Feb 18, 2014 at 7:14 pm

      This car has no RV. After 5 years my boss Sam came is more expensive than this car.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 14
      • SamShowedMeTheHilux on Feb 19, 2014 at 8:12 am

        Actually you are right. This car, after one year, can buy it for RM$250,000. The RV on this car is crazy. Just like now, you can buy a 2012 528i for RM$230,000. Brand new, BMW Malaysia last time sell for RM$420,000.

        I cut and paste a comment in the last Mercedes post from a commentator Buyer Beware! – Advice on RV on Feb 17, 2014 at 11:04 am

        Buy an E class or a BMW F10 if you are very rich and don’t care about RV. Most E class buyers are not really very rich as they are normal people just achieving their dreams to own a Mercedes. This is because the E class or the BMW F10 drops more than RM150,000 in value in just the first year alone.

        Last year, in October 2013, I was looking to buy an E250. I got a shock to see 2013 models, just a few months old going for less Rm250,000.

        Then I found out, MBM themselves were clearing brand new E250 with zero milegae for RM270,000. Mind you, brand new, it is RM420,000.

        So, moral of the story is this. Don’t buy a brand new E class. If MBM themselves can throw prices and reduce existing year made stock in the same year for more than RM150,000 less, you can imagine how the second hand value of your E class would be. In this case, MBM was selling their E250 for RM150,000 less, brand new car (420,000 – 270,000).

        So collapse lah the 2nd hand market for E class. That is why you can get a good near brand new 2012 CBU E250 in December 2013 for RM180,000.

        The same with BMW. Buyer beware. BMW also loves to throw prices. Last year in 2013, they were selling their 2013 pre reg 520i cars for RM250,000. Cars that are just few months old. Brand new is RM368,888. So you can imagine how the 2nd hand market took to it because BMW themselves threw prices.

        So to all those buyers who work hard to buy their dream car, please be aware of depreciation and RV. In your first year alone, your car drops RM150,000!. Later when you sell your car, you got to top up your loan by more than RM150,000!

        It is better you just go and buy a second hand BMW or Mercedes because the depreciation of the 2nd year onwards is very minimal. It is the first year that most BM and Mercedes owners get a shock of their lives. What to do? If principal themselves throw prices like that, the 2nd hand market also will have to follow accordingly.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 9
        • SamsakitTeruk on Feb 19, 2014 at 1:40 pm

          Pakcik, you masih sakit atau belum makan ubat ? Janganlah cakap bohong, tolong pergi makan ubat dan tidur diam diam dengan katil.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4
        • stfusam on Feb 19, 2014 at 8:05 pm

          ughh… this delusional twat is still here?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1
        • Hellhole on Feb 20, 2014 at 6:27 am

          Please show me a 2013 pre-reg f10 520i for 250k. I will give you cash + 10k. If you cant just continue driving your Vios and keep quite. Lies are not welcomed in this forum

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1
    • After own 5 year of E class, it gives us alot problem, and big problem is the brake failure. Now ordered 528I M-sport and hope that is has less problem.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 4
      • What brake failure? ahpek drive very slow and seldom use brake, in fact mercedes can build their car without brake also no problem.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4
        • It displayed “brake not functioning”, during that time I pressed the brake and it not stopping at all, I just let it roll to roadside. Luckily it is not fast and I still able to type comment here. After that the computer locked the whole car, not even let you to start the car. Repair caused rm4k and this situation occured twice !!

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2
          • Samliar on Feb 21, 2014 at 2:01 pm

            If you use Mercedes brake to your proton car, it give you this problem.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  • AMG_kang on Feb 18, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    Well write-up Paul! We love to read more from you. Or at least, other writers in could try to be close to your class of review.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 18
    • Man, a tad insulting don’t you think!?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2
      • i agree with amg kang to some extent. love reading straight forward review. but i guess its different strokes for different folks. hope other writers will not take his comment too seriously

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1
  • holofanboi on Feb 18, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    OMG~ :3

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • merc may have better interiors, but come one, even kia has more expensive looking rear lights than this. whats with the little2 stripes all along the red strips? facepalm

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2
  • jinggo on Feb 18, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Jual la murah sikit, ini mahal sangat mcm harga rumah teres 2 tingkat je.. RM200k sudah la..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3
    • 200k takleh lah.Tapi mmg kalau jualdi sini pun kira2 RM280K kalo takde tax setinggi nie. Tapi, KERAjaan kito nie mmg tak muak nak makan banyak lagi. kasi kencing kita rakyat. udah lah.kalo mampu, kito beli, tak mampu. tengok je.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • jskf01 on Feb 18, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Can you give a comparison between both E250 and E400 in terms of their differences in features bar the engine? From what I can see the E400 scores the new camera system and the AMG package. Are there any other differences

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • heybadigol on Feb 18, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    If you really are into good stock sound system, then Mark Levinson in the higher spec Lexus GS should be the best choice. The Harman Kardon can’t compare to it. Not even Audi’s Bang & Olufsen comes close. Acura’s ELS is as good as the Mark Levinsons, but Acuras are not sold here. But of course, nothing beats home hifi in a proper room :)

    Paul has forgotten another luxury car which is even cheaper, the Lexus GS350 F Sport. That one goes for RM478k (and if you look at recond units, you can get even cheaper). The GS350 F Sport has the Mark Levinson hifi, and is a more capable handler than the E400 (the GS almost matches the BMW 535i in the handling dept), yet it is as comfortable as the E400, and in my eyes more luxurious (along with the Audi A6 3.0 TFSI). Its downside is the expensive road tax & thirsty engine, but the car itself does come with a lower price tag. In my opinion, the GS350 should be high up in the list for anyone looking for a higher end luxury executive car. And eventually, all these cars will be joined by the sexy Maserati Ghibli, and a longer list of cars to pick from :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4
    • shhhh jangan bising on Feb 18, 2014 at 10:23 pm

      dont compare with cheap B&O basic (A4… A5…) which costs rm5@6K..

      compare the B&O advance which costs rm30K (in Audi A6… A7..A8)..
      then u can see not even GS mark levinson is match…


      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0
  • Malaysian_auto on Feb 18, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    In overseas markets, one can choose to spec up your own car as u want by ticking in the option boxes. In Bolehland, it is really unfair that we have to pay more but get less choices with car features pre determined by the distributor.

    For example, in the UK you can even spec up an E200 or E250 with an AMG body kit. But in Malaysia, you have to keep the existing kit and purchase a separate set of AMG kit if you choose to go the AMG route, which basically means you need to have a store room large enough to keep the initial set which came with he car.

    It’s really silly isn’t it?!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 2
    • shhhh jangan bising on Feb 18, 2014 at 10:24 pm

      actually can..
      u got money and just request them to order u the higher spec…
      just pay and drive :)

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
    • paucharsiew on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:04 am

      for all the money we pay…we should be getting a Designo version of the E200

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  • mirror-mirror on Feb 19, 2014 at 2:22 am

    The E class has a wind noise problem, alot noisier than the BMW 5 and Audi A6.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3
    • bullshxt on Feb 24, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      Liar being liar, it is so much more quiet than BMW and Audi. Jangan cakap bohong

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1
  • auto cravings on Feb 19, 2014 at 11:18 am

    i am satisfied with my e200. pickup was excellent as i managed to tailgate a ferrari. damn i am flattered that a 400k car can beat 2 million car. but later on the driver floor the pedal i was left eating smoke as the ferrari rocketed from 110 to 250(maybe) in no time. i guess this is a valid excuse to buy e400. haha

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4
  • if i am a singaporean, sure can buy this car like buying shoes at yebeng.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • Saw this car while crusing bak from Johor to KL. Too bad that E400 is goin Johor direction. Would like to test ryn with my 528i msport if it were in the same driving course. Missed the chance. Usually oni seen E250 and its easy to smoke them. No offence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

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