There’s a lot going for the new Mercedes Benz E-class and time certainly hasn’t managed to take a toll on this classic beauty

Mercedes-Benz has come a long way in India since entering the domestic luxury car market as the first player. It recently entered the budget luxury segment with the A-class hatchback. But what truly defines the brand is the E-class saloon. It was the car that built up the company to what it is today. This midlife update for the current car W212 sees it take a leap forward in the looks department. The nose is all new. The headlamp set-up is now a single-element headlamp cluster. The styling, however, is no longer sharp and edgy. There’s a softer flow to the design of the nose and the chin, with its built-in splitter now looking a bit sportier. The biggest change, of course, is that you can now order your E-class with the sportier-looking Mercedes grille — the one with the two prominent slats and the big star at the centre.

The rear isn’t very different with the only new bit being the tail-lamps with LED inserts. Along the sides, the slightly retro pontoons around the rear wheel arches have been shed, and the car does look a bit younger now. Particularly nice are the really classy five-spoke 18-inch alloys.

The interiors give you an overwhelming feeling of being in a top-grade environment, where craftsmanship and build quality are a priority. The doors ‘thunk’ close solidly and the quality is perfect. The doors are well padded and the chrome bits reflect sheer quality. It is, however, familiar and there aren’t only a few changes. The vents on the central console are new, there is a new analogue clock in the centre and the COMAND screen is now larger and of a much higher resolution. You can integrate your phone via Bluetooth, and the E now gets navigation as well. Other changes include new individually hooded dials and twin sun visors, and there’s a colour screen at the centre of the speedo. Our car came with an AMG steering and a panoramic sunroof as well. The E-class’s front seats provide fantastic support for the shoulders and thighs. Cushioning is not as firm as it used to be, but that doesn’t affect comfort. The rear seat is as comfortable and there’s plenty of space. Getting in and out is easy with the doors opening wide.The driving experience is also comfortable. The new electric steering is light, but quick and accurate — the E feels more agile and willing to turn.

The suspension is more comfort-oriented as well owing to the Direct Control dampers used and the new E absorbs bad roads better. It does get a bit unsettled on really bad roads and there is a bit of movement from the body, but not so much that you’d feel uncomfortable. The E-class has always been unparalleled on refinement, and here again, it feels as silent as a tomb on the inside.

Mercedes will launch the new E-class powered by two engines, the 204bhp 250 CDi and the 184bhp 200 petrol. The 250 diesel we’re driving uses a twin-turbo version of Merc’s 2143cc common-rail engine. It makes 204bhp, which isn’t really a lot, but performance is strong because of the massive 50.9kgm of torque it generates. And this feels effortless owing to the fact that this motor makes its maximum torque from as low as 1600rpm. Merc also seems to have improved the refinement of the motor. It doesn’t sound particularly loud or diesel-like when you set off, and rattle and clatter are well-damped at everyday driving speeds.

Drivers looking for more performance are, however, likely to be slightly disappointed. Spinning the motor harder and holding on to gears does not yield that much more in the way of performance, and the engine does feel a bit strained after 4000rpm. Merc’s seven-speed gearbox isn’t the quickest either, so winding it down a notch or two does pay dividends.

Where the new E shines is when tackling a set of corners. It does feel soft and there is a bit of roll, but it still feels surprisingly well-balanced and relaxed even when loaded up.

So, is the new E-class a step forward? Most certainly. It retains the traditional majestic ride, the hushed cabin and the solid build quality. Performance is adequate as well and it feels effortless to drive. What has improved is the speed and agility. The car’s looks have been stylised to look more modern and the features and options list has been extended substantially as well. There’s a lot going for the new E-class and time certainly hasn’t managed to take a toll on this classic beauty.