Sunday, 18 March 2018

Don’t stint on spec and E’s a great buy

E has to stand for elegance where the new Mercedes-Benz E 220 is concerned. Yet you

E has to stand for elegance where the new Mercedes-Benz E 220 is concerned. Yet you could also say that the letter E stands for everyday use, because this car is nothing if not a car of many parts.

There was a deep lustre about the car’s red livery — actually, Hyacinth red metallic paint to give it its full moniker — that would not disgrace the car at the most prestigious of events. Yet its practical application for daily use was apparent from the moment I sat behind the wheel.

Of course this is something that Mercedes-Benz has excelled at over the years. Somehow that Mercedes-Benz magic has enduringly appealed to a wide spectrum of people from sheikhs to superstars to humble taxi drivers on every continent.

The test car, an E 220 BlueTEC AMG Line Saloon, was meticulously turned out — from its well-heeled inside to its smart exterior — and yet this is not the most exciting of Mercedes-Benz cars.

But here we are looking at solid prestige material: comfort, economy, smoothness of ride, and a sophisticated road presence. On all of these fronts, the E-Class scores highly. Although firmly ensconced in the executive class segment, the E-Class has been successful with its broad appeal since it was first produced as far back as 1993 in various engine and body configurations.

Initially, prior to 1993, the E stood for Einspritzmotor — fuel injection engine — but as this type of engine became uniform, the E became the hallmark of this most versatile of Mercedes-Benz models.

The car became a favourite with taxi drivers — indeed, I often recall arriving at Gare du Nord in Paris and gazing fondly at a rankful of similar Mercedes-Benz cabs outside.

Of course the very term “saloon car” has a traditional, even dated sound to it, with the motoring world now overflowing with hybrids, hatchbacks, SUVs (sports utility vehicles) and crossovers.

The jargon will continue as carmakers’ fondness for enticing names will remain undiminished in future. But there will still be fans of the saloon and in this guise — that is, the E-Class — I can see the plush exec saloon surviving well.

Whatever you think about the cost of buying such a car as this — and you may feel that it is out of reach — the money invested gets a lot of car for your bucks.

Depreciation plays a big part in the life of every new car on the forecourt and its instant effect is the historic moan of every new car buyer that ever existed.

However, residual values are what they are, and buying a new Mercedes-Benz might be a way of limiting the effects of depreciation.

This struck me when I looked at the “standard equipment” listed on this E 220. The car cost with standard equipment £36,765. Add on the options — some of which replaced standard stuff — and the price came to £44,650.

I always say when buying a car be sure to get the spec you want, even if it means going over budget.

If you are investing money in this way — a private buy in the region of £45,000 — then you should take your time and consider all the options.

The extras on the test car included a “tow bar, manually folding — includes 13-pin socket” (£695), a Premium Plus Package that includes such goodies as panoramic glass sunroof, reversing camera, rear seats split folding, “keyless” package. and surround sound system (£3,895).Now it may be that you feel you could do without the latter — ie, the Premium Plus Package — but I’m afraid this kind of “extra” is what makes driving this type of prestige car such a pleasure. The sound system alone was a delight.

And then you get further into the comfort zone. Well, in such a car you want to be comfortable, don’t you? I know I would. So, the leather upholstery comes in at £1,075, the lovely outside paint job at £480, and the black ash wood trim at £285.

There might be a temptation to say, go on spoil yourself when buying an executive steed like the E220.

But no one would know you had spoiled yourself because the car is sober and serious. It’s not as if you are splashing out your pension pot on a Lamborghini. And yet the resulting car — this E 220 — would I think prove to be a highly satisfactory buy, extras and all.

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