Headline / March 2019

Mercedes E300 AMG

First, I have two small gripes to share. The E300 AMG Line comes with a keyless starting system. I only needed to pocket the key, be in the car and press the start button to start the engine. It would be more convenient however, Mercedes, if I did not have to touch the key at all to unlock the car. As it is, I needed to press the unlock button no the transmitter key before I can open the door. Same with opening the trunk. I had to unlock the car first before I could open it. Secondly, while the saloon comes with steel suspension with Agility Control selective damping as standard, I did feel some nervousness at very high speeds. It felt like the springing or shocks are too soft and the steering too nervous, even in Sport or Sport+ Dynamic Select drive programs. Keep in mind that this is only felt at very high speeds (that the E300 AMG Line is very capable of), but not when driven at low to medium speeds.

There is nothing to complain when it comes to the exterior design. I love the fact that Mercedes decided to give the new E-class a more sporting proportion with the longer bonnet and coupe like silhouette from the side. Coupled with 19 inches wheels filling the wheel wells just right, there is no doubt the E300 AMG Line looks muscular. The broad rear shoulders above the rear wheel arches also emphasize this look as well the more aggressive opening at the front bumper. Thankfully the longer bonnet does not come at the expense of cabin and boot space, because the wheel base is also increased by 65mm. I just wished the twin tail pipes under the saloon’s rear bumper were quad exhaust instead, as it should on anything carrying the AMG badge.

Sit behind the wheel and the first thing that caught my eyes were the two 12.3 inch wide-screen displays replacing the traditional instrument panel. At the start, I did not think I would like to have any digital screen telling me the status of my engine or travel speed. But after a while, I can honestly say that this is the way of the future. With digital there is just so much flexibility. I can imagine that Mercedes would sell optional themes that can be programmed in later. Star Wars themed instrument panel anyone? As it came from Mercedes, this wide screen instrument cluster offers three themes: Sport, Classic and Progressive. Another thing of interest when you are behind the wheel is the steering wheel itself. The steering wheel controls are touch sensitive that one could simply swipe up down left or right, then press to make selection. Very similar to the navigation button on Blackberry phones of the past. Super intuitive to use and makes me wonder why other car manufacturers never thought of this before. To match the taste preference, or in-the-moment mood of the driver, the ambient lighting could be selected from 64 choices.

The front seats in the AMG Line has excellent lateral support from the thick side bolsters and wide shoulder section while being very comfortable to sit in. Leather surfaces on the sides and alcantara in the middle keeps the front seat occupants securely in place during spirited driving. The rear seat is very important in any E-Class. This new saloon is equipped with a comfortable rear seat with 40% - 20% - 40% split back rest, making it exceptionally versatile. Integral features of the centre armrest include a stowage box and two pop-out drinks holders. Should the rear occupants need more privacy from the outside, there are screens that could be rolled up manually on each rear side windows and an electrically controlled rear window screen. I love the panoramic roof that is available starting this year in the E300 AMG Line is the panoramic roof. Makes the cabin airy but never too hot even when it was sunny and hot outside.

This new E-Class does not disappoint when it comes to entertaining its occupants. An all-new infotainment generation is making its debut in the E-Class equipped with Comand Online. Its highlights, alongside the double display, include the touch-sensitive Touch Controls on the steering wheel and the new, intelligent graphic design of the Multifunction Telephony. It allows mobile phones to be charged and, at the same time, connected to the vehicle‘s exterior aerial – with absolutely no need for cables or a telephone holder. The wireless, inductive charging system works with all mobile devices that either support the Qi standard or can be upgraded to this standard. It is also possible to use Apple‘s smartphone-based infotainment system CarPlay® as well as Google’s Android Auto™. In addition, the Burmester® surround sound system truly provides superior listening pleasure. It drives 14 speakers with a 9channel DSP amplifier and a total system power of 590 watts. Clear and crisp treble and deep bass coming from the front are due to the speakers being optimised for performance with the premium sound system. 

The highlight of my drive with the E300 AMG Line is the Parktronic Parking Assist that lets the saloon park itself and wowed my daughter at the same time. All I needed to do was press the Parktronicc button to activate and drive slowly at a parking lot. The car will look for a suitable parking spot, whether a normal parking spot, parallel, or even at an angle. When found, the center display then prompts the driver to decide parking with the in reverse or not. Once selected, say in reverse, the driver needs to put the transmission in R, release the brake and watch the magic happen. The vehicle drove itself automatically into the selected parking space, steering and braking completely on its own. I found the car was only able to find a parking spot when it was tight enough. I guess one would only need this assistance in tight parking areas. The assistance also works for pulling out of parking spots. At first, I thought this is a gimmicky assist, but after a while I realized that it would be a useful feature for people who are intimated by parking in tight spaces. 

The E300 AMG Line is powered by a 1991cc 4-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 245 horsepower and 370 Nm of torque. 0 to 100 kilometre per hour is done in a very respectable 6.1 seconds. No doubt the nine speed 9G-Tronic automatic transmission has a major role in aiding swift acceleration – in low to medium speed, around 160 kilometre per hour. However, the 245 horsepower is proven to be just enough to power this executive saloon – albeit 70 kilograms lighter now, since acceleration rate above those speeds did not feel that impressive. At these speeds it is all about weight plus wind resistance versus power. As usual, Mercedes equipped this new E-Class with 5 modes of Dynamic Select drive programs: Comfort, ECO, Sport, Sport Plus, Individual. This controls the engine response, transmission response, firmness of the shock absorbers. 

Not that the E-Class has poor aerodynamic. On the contrary, the E300 AMG Line raises the benchmark with a record-breaking drag coefficient (Cd value) of 0.23. While it helped little in high speed acceleration, it helps a lot in efficiency during normal driving. Over the course of 4 days and about 300 kilometres driven, at 22 kilometres per hour average speed this premium sedan only consumed 14.1 litre of premium gasoline per 100 kilometres travelled. This translates to an excellent 7.0 kilometres per litre.

When it comes to the quintessential executive car, I would bet people’s minds would not stray far from the Mercedes’ offering, the E-class. The E-class is synonymous with dependability, comfort and prestige. Choose the AMG models, then add brutal power, aggressive styling and expensive to above statement. All good if you were in the mood. But the Rp 1.329.000.000 (off-the-road) E300 AMG Line offers a good compromise for an everyday drive. As for me, this new E-Class checked many of the right boxes, but to make me feel special, it needs fifty more horses.