The Mercedes-Benz E-Class’ big news for 2005 is the introduction of a new diesel engine, covered in a separate review. Changes to the rest of the line are minor: there’s a new, larger LCD radio display, Flint Grey exterior paint colour replaces Tectite Grey, and the AMG Sport Package receives some exterior styling tweaks.

The E-Class is available in a sedan or wagon, as the 3.2-litre V6 E 320, the 5.0-litre V8 E 500, and the intercooled and supercharged 5.5-litre V8 E 55 AMG. 4Matic, an all-wheel-drive system that maintains a 60 per cent rear bias under normal driving conditions, is standard on the E 320 and E 500 wagons and available on the sedans. It also includes 4-ETS, or four-wheel Electronic Traction System, which can direct traction wherever it’s needed, even if it’s only to one wheel.

The E 320 sedan and wagon include a five-speed Touch Shift automatic transmission, 16-inch dual-spoke alloy wheels, electro-hydraulic brake control, heated ten-way power front seats with premium leather upholstery and memory, burl walnut wood trim, four-zone climate control, CD player with nine speakers, and nine-passenger seating on wagon models.

The E 500 includes a seven-speed automatic transmission in the sedan and five-speed Touch Shift automatic transmission on the wagon, and adds Airmatic dual control semi-active air suspension, 17-inch twin-spoke alloy wheels, premium leather upholstery and four-zone climate control.

The E 55 AMG Sport Sedan features a five-speed automatic transmission with AMG Speedshift and fingertip shift controls, staggered 18-inch wheels, cross-drilled brake discs, AMG-design lower bodywork, AMG-design two-tone Nappa leather with nubuck inserts, black birds-eye maple wood trim, and heated multi-contour sport front seats.

The E-Class, long considered the “typical” Mercedes, accounts for one-quarter of all company sales. Large and luxurious, the model is known for its fine ride, good handling and, in the E 55 AMG’s case, zero to 100 km/h acceleration in 4.7 seconds. The wagon adds a note of practicality and can be a viable alternative to luxury SUVs. The price of entry is steep: the E 320 is $6,500 over the BMW 530i, while the least-expensive E-Class V8 tops the BMW 545i by $6,900. In wagon mode, though, there really isn’t much else out there that can touch this level of refinement.

The E-Class is built in Bremen, Germany.

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