As you all know by now, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia has introduced not one, not two but three new E-Class variants during the recent lockdown.

There’s the E 200 Avantgarde, the E 300 AMG Line, and the E 300 Coupe AMG Line. There’s also the GLE 450 AMG Line but we’ll save that for another day.

As soon as the showrooms were allowed to opened, I was contacted by Cycle & Carriage who invited to spend a day with the E 200 Avantgarde. Frankly, I would’ve preferred an AMG E 63 S 4MATIC+ *wink* but after nearly three months of driving no further than five kilometres, you can imagine the excitement when Mercedes offered the keys to a Benz and said “Enjoy the car”.

So what do you do when you get such a car for a day? You call your friend and show off the car; and go for a joy ride. So we went to lunch at Damansara Perdana and boy was I glad to be in the E 200 Avantgarde instead of the AMG E 63 S.

If you have been to the DP (for Damansara Perdana) area, you’d know what a mess it is over there with the ongoing DASH Highway construction. The roads conditions are poor and half of the main road is poorly lit as a result of the overhead highway.

If I was in the E 63 S, I’d be cursing and swearing harder than someone who has cryptocurrency in a pen drive he/she can’t unlock. But no, I was in the E 200 so it was calm and serene in the cabin. The noise from the surrounding construction was mostly drowned out as well.

The first thing James pointed out upon climbing onboard was how cool the dual-screen setup looked – Mercedes-Benz calls it the Widescreen Cockpit. He also singled out the futuristic graphics and how easy it was to use; something I agree with as well.

For someone who uses an iPhone such as myself, how easy a device is to use and how smooth its operation feels really matters. With the MBUX operating system, even your 60 plus-year-old parent who isn’t tech-savvy will be able to adapt to it very quickly.

What may be a slight inconvenience (at first) would be the Type-C (only) charging port that Mercedes_Benz has adopted across its range. Sure, it helps charge your devices quicker but you’d now have to have a whole new set of cables just for the car. Stuck in the ice age, it was a good thing I had a 12V USB charger with me; problem solved.

The roads are pretty narrow in DP so having a smaller turning radius in the E 200 was certainly helpful. After lunch, I was off to bake in the sun at a park in Subang Jaya for some photos of the car and it was only then that I got to take in the (almost) new look.

It’s got a new hexagonal grille with clear references to the Panamericana grille which at first sight looked a little too busy but once you take it in, it actually makes sense. Compared to the previous model, the new one along with its new headlamps no doubt extends the current generation E-Class relevance a few more years.

Those taillights as well. Put the pre-facelift model and the E 200 side by side and they’ll look worlds apart. If no one told you, the E 200 could’ve easily been passed off as an all-new model.

It was only when I started using the boot, to store my bag, was when I started questioning the car. It costs RM326,943 and I have to manually pull the boot cover down to shut it, instead of hitting a switch? I’m aware it’s just an E 200 but it’s an E-Class nonetheless.

As for the inside, to me at least, nothing about it was jarring to the eye – from the silver door trims to the oak wood centre console but the steering, although looks really sporty, has just a bit too much gloss on it.

It’s about time carmakers, whether it’s Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, or Volkswagen to figure out an alternative to a panel surface that oftentimes looks like a crime scene once it’s in use. Worse, if your hands are sticky or grimey, it makes the controls less responsive. Gloss panels (in any car for that matter) should be buried and never be dug up again.

As usual, I didn’t get to test the rear seat as most of these test drives are unfortunately experienced alone. While taking pictures of the interior, I did get to spend a few minutes in the backseat and with those sunshades (side windows and rear windshield) up, it’s just a pleasant place to be – irrespective of whether it’s an E 200 or E 300.

Under the hood is a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder paired to a 9-speed automatic, with 197 hp and 320 Nm. If sheer power is what you need in your E-Class, the E 200 isn’t the one to look at but if you’re getting the E 200, its unlikely that its performance would disappoint you. 7.9 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h is not slow at all.

When you compare E 200’s price with its BMW equivalent, you’ll be getting a more powerful and sportier-looking 530e M Sport for about RM3,000 less, but what if you wanted something simpler, with extra complications of a plug-in hybrid, something more subdued?

Not everyone who’s looking for an E-Class needs it to look fast, they might prefer something more understated but with no less prestige. If you’re one of those then look no further – you can’t go wrong with one of these.


GALLERY