Mercedes E Class Review: AMG Line Edition 220d
- Model spec: E Class 220d AMG Line Edition
- Price: £40045
- Engine: 2.0-L, 4-cylinder turbo-diesel
- Max Speed: 149
- 0-60: 7.3 seconds
- BHP/Torque: 194 / 400
- Economy: 35mpg combined
- C02: g/km
- Tax: /year
The Mercedes E Class name as we now know wasn’t introduced until 1993. But the E Class has 20th Century ancestry stretching back to its roots, way back to 1953. That’s the history lesson over with. I once owned a W124 a few years back, they were built like tanks inside and out although by today’s standards the W124 is considered basic. The W124 was a great car… but only in the wet. I can only assume that rear-wheel-drive technology was bare-knuckle primitive in the 1980s, so you could get the W124 sideways with ease and dance that donkey around UK roundabouts like a superstar rally driver. That was the only time the W124 was of any substance in terms of enjoyment for it was an out-and-out cruiser. Primitive by today’s standards.
The E Class of today, in 2020 is light years ahead in every single department, the W213 – introduced in 2017 – is far more luxurious, and far more technologically advanced than the last generation W212 which felt, at times, more like a posh Ford Mondeo. So then, the Mercedes E Class saloon (sedan), prices start from £38k and you get the usual array of petrol and diesel engines. Although personally speaking the hybrids are questionable, to say the least, and are seen more as tax breaks for company car users.
The E Class 220d AMG Line Edition on test looks great on the outside with its AMG Line body kit and 19-inch alloys. For the first time in a long time, the E Class looks… classy. And on the inside, the design language is borrowed from the S class and exudes flair which is very rare for a German carmaker. But as with all modern Mercedes, it looks expensive but doesn’t feel it. They call it perceived quality. Simply put the fit and finish isn’t up to Audi or BMW standards. For example, take the ash-tray cover, it opens and closes with soft-touch finesse but it feels cheap and nasty. And that really irritated me in a first-world-problem kind of way.
And some of the material trim isn’t great either, the rear-passenger heating unit feels as though it belongs in a Dacia. Again, these small details are admittedly first-world problems. But why go to all that trouble hiding behind the marketing placards and then scrimp and scrape? Doesn’t make any sense. And then there is the build quality, an area the E Class can no longer match BMW or Audi. Looks nice though. Sure the E Class interior has got that massive dual digital display, it’s got the best ambient lighting in its class. The seats are comfortable, but the interior just doesn’t feel as luxurious as the marketing would make you believe.
When you own one of these premium-luxury cars very obviously you spend most of your time entombed within and not sat on the roof. So it makes sense to get the interior right, that’s why I feel so embittered towards the E Class… in a real-first-world-problem kind of way. Besides, you are paying for the badge and the badge comes with a lot of expectations. I can forgive certain foibles with a cheap-ass Dacia but not with a Mercedes and especially not with an E Class.
But anyway, the Mercedes E Class AMG Line 220d even without options is all the car you could ever want. Avoid the entry-level SE, do you really want to be seen driving around on 17-inch alloy wheels in 2020? This isn’t a Kia. But if you are a tight-wad, SE models come as standard with Garmin Map Pilot navigation system; LED headlights; Agility Control suspension… and… Easy-Pack automatic tailgate; Parking Pilot including Parktronic and reversing camera; chrome roof rails… and… 64-colour selectable LED interior lighting; Keyless-Go starting function; heated front seats; DAB radio… and 17-inch alloys with a five-spoke design AMG Line adds AMG exterior styling with 19-inch alloy wheels.
AMG Line Edition trim, now we’re talking, proper looking 19-inch-ers and the AMG body kit which makes the E Class look more assertive and classy. And dare I say it, more expensive looking.
The 220d AMG Line Edition affords you a lot of equipment, the main ones I am interested in is leather interior, heated front seats, and that fully digital instrument and infotainment system, two 12.3-inch screens, one for the highly configurable digital instrument panel, the other for the infotainment system.
The MBUX infotainment system is OK to use, as with all infotainment systems the software has specific quirks and usability features that are not too difficult to overcome. The biggest issue I had was the so-called Command System which comprises a rotating dial and track mouse. It doesn’t work as intended and makes interacting with the infotainment screen awkward and cumbersome. The trackpad mounted on the multi-function steering wheel works much better, negating the use of the rotating command system, almost entirely.
Interior space is good, certainly for front passengers. Rear passengers will also benefit from generous and equally comfortable accommodation. The boot space is the biggest in its class offering up over 540-litres. If you want rear foldable seats… that’s an optional extra.
Road manners are where the E Class really excels, although it prioritises comfort over handling which is fine with me. The standard suspension is supple enough to cope with the most demanding pot-holes. But with the optional air-suspension, you get an elevated sense of serenity. It isn’t too cumbersome across country B-roads, but as a motorway cruiser, few in its class get close. Compared to the previous generation E Class (W212) the E Class is better balanced and feels much lighter. That said, the steering feel is numb, but light, that’s how I personally prefer this type of car to behave.
The 220d turbo-diesel, 4-cylinder engine offers 194bhp, 400Nm torque and propels the E Class with more than enough clout. It doesn’t sound so good at idle and is noticeably more audible when compared to the Audi A6 or BMW 5 Series. On the move, the 220d diesel engine is drowned out by a well-insulated interior. Nevertheless, the engine offers up plenty of torque as and when you require, you never feel short on power. And the 9-speed automatic changes gears seamlessly affording a combined economy of 55mpg.
Overall the Mercedes E Class is typical Mercedes, where comfort is prioritised over head-banging handling. In addition, there are many safety gizmos thrown in that I have yet to discuss, but it’s safe to say if you decided to drive off a cliff the E Class’s built-in safety systems would probably talk you out of doing so.
So is the Mercedes E Class, still classy? It is a significant step up from the last generation which felt a bit posh Ford Mondeo. However the latest generation E Class ventures into S Class territory. the interior and exterior look fantastic, the ride comfort is like walking on pillows, but it is not a secret hardcore sports sedan. It’s got the tech-nerd advanced technology in terms of the infotainment system and safety assists. However, Mercedes needs to work on bringing back their build quality and that’s one reason why I can definitively say the E Class is not at the top of my list of premium luxury sedans… because I don’t have a list just yet.