Gone are the days where we had to remember each other’s house numbers, adjust our oversized TV’s antenna or even physically head out to buy food. Also gone are the days where a Mercedes-Benz E-Class would announce its own arrival with the unmistakable wail of its radiator fan.
One of Mercedes-Benz Malaysia’s latest introduction, the E350e, in an automotive sense, is another testamant of everything’s that changed in our world. Without lacking any of the presence and panache so typical of an E-Class, it now rolls off from standstill in a manner so discreet that it would appease even the most silence-obssesed librarian.
The E350e is offered in two different trims – the Executive Line that’s priced at RM 392,888 and the AMG Line that retails for RM 395,888. As I assume that an extra RM 3,000 would mean nothing for someone who’s in the market for a sub-400k vehicle, I’ll urge you to pay the difference and indulge in the aggressive and pronounced appearance of the AMG Line E350e.
That’s cause it just looks so darn good. Instead of being hood-mounted, you get the three-point star on a cleaner grille design, a more aggressive front bumper and a set of visually-enticing 19-inch AMG five-twin-spoke light alloy wheels.
Even if you do decide to opt for the more “plain Jane” Executive Line, prepare to still dazzle on-lookers with the MULTIBEAM LED headlamps that greets, often times the driver, with a mildly amusing light show every time its switched on. It’s got 84 individual LEDs which actively adjusts itself to ensure the best possible visibility on the road by lighting up the darkest areas ahead without glaring at on-coming traffic.
On the inside, it’s the complete opposite, for me at least. Having not been a fan of a “wood-trimmed” interior, the new brown open pore wood trims in the Executive Line spectacularly reflects the modern approach to a traditional display.
With a more faded, pastel tone to its presentation, I can see the wooden door and dashboard trims appealing to an even wider (and younger) demographic now rather than it being confined to the taste of an older group of Mercedes-Benz buyers. That said, whether it’s the Executive or AMG Line’s interior, it’s one of the most luxurious, most inviting and most attractive enclosure you can buy for that money.
Every item, every component, every dial, switch and knob oozes refinement with strange satisfaction. Even the speaker covers on the Burmester 13-speaker sound system are a thing of beauty; surrounded by a sense of opulence from high quality soft touch materials and immaculate fit and finish.
By now you’d probably be thinking that I sound like a Mercedes-Benz salesman but if you’ve not sat or spent considerable time in the new E350e like we had during our media drive to Johor Bahru en route to the Tanjung Jara Resort in Terengganu, it really does sound like a hard sell.
There were a few things that caught my attention but not necessary my liking; the speaker covers somewhat felt like cheese graters to the touch, the double 12.3-inch touchscreen’s display is sometimes blinded by reflections and those orange leather trims in the AMG Line’s interior could only appeal to those with a fancy for the tanning bed but are they negligible?
Without a shadow of a doubt. Whether its ergonomics, comfort, convenience or luxury, the sheer quality the E350e’s interior will never fail to distract you from its shortcomings, if any.
The highlight of the interior though – had to be the elongated double 12.3-inch high-resolution touch screen display – stretched from the driver’s line of sight to the centre of the dashboard. Not only was its interface easy to maneuver through, on its own, it was simply a visual amusement – projecting various parameters of the vehicle while offering a range of speed and rpm displays.
Oh, being a PHEV, the E350e’s dual-zone climate control comes equipped with a pre-entry climate control which cools the cabin down by the time you settle in to those Nappa leather seats. The softness of the leather really pampers the touch and honestly, once you’ve gone Nappa, you’d never go back.
I wonder why an S400h is needed when the E-Class alone can offer such level of fanciness and refinement. Sinking yourself into the rear seats, which cups you in such a way that you wish your journey would never end, it’s hard for the mind to dish out a comparison with other vehicles in this segment – especially when you’re so engrossed with indulging the high levels of ride comfort afforded by the Air Body Control air suspension with active damping.
Wind noise? Close as makes no difference – absent. It’s simply in a class of its own.
Further at the back, the batteries positioned beneath the boot hasn’t been detrimental to trunk space at all – which now stands at just 400-litres. The batteries, by the way, can support the E350e’s electric only feature with 33 km of driving range.
The E350e boasts a combined system output, along with the electric motor, of 286 hp and 550 Nm of torque mated to a 9G-TRONIC transmission. While there’s more than an abundance of power at the stretch of your right foot to reach the E350e’s electronically-limited top speed of 250 km/h, its seamless power delivery through its nine gears, is also sadly its drawback – there’s just way too many gears to downshift from when you’re looking to invoke some eagerness from the engine.
Sure you can just leave it in automatic mode, floor the pedal and the E350’s computer wizardy will be at your service to shift straight down to the most appropriate gear but then it would render the pedal shifters rather obsolete – it’s quite the predicament.
That said, this car, as capable as it is for spirited drives, the E350e’s distinction is in the way it sips fuel. While its claimed fuel consumption is rated at 2.1 L/100 km – an impossible figure not even the feet of god can achieve on our roads – I managed a solid 6 L/100 km through a mix of back roads, highways, slow drives and spirited runs; very respectable when you consider how heavy the car is.
To safeguard the car’s fuel economy, the E350e comes with four Hybrid modes – the E-Mode, E-Save, Charge and Hybrid. It even comes with a haptic feature that kicks the throttle back when you’re being too eager with the gas pedal.
Driving dynamics wise, I’m going to risk everything and go on a limb to say that I still prefer BMWs but that’s just being preferential and perhaps borderline mean to the E350e. In Sport + mode, it does project all the sporty credentials that will rile the excitement of the demographic it appeals to. Then again, it’s probably safe to assume that “that particular demographic” will not buy the E350e to misbehave on the road.
It would be to ferry himself, his family and friends in the wealth of luxury, splendour and exclusivity not many can rival when the Mercedes-Benz name is in the mix.