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Mercedes-Benz Canada

Review and photos by Mike Schlee

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2012 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

As I approached the 2012 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan, I couldn’t help but notice how restrained yet elegant this mid-sized Mercedes appeared.  From the simple 17-inch five-split-spoke wheels to the rear LED taillight treatment to the upright three-star hood ornament, this car oozes panache.  But wait, isn’t this the recently introduced, lowly entry level version of the Mercedes E-Class?  Well yes, it is, but lowly is hardly a way to describe it; especially with an as-tested price of $63,790.

2012 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
2012 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan. Click image to enlarge

New for 2012, Mercedes-Benz tweaks their direct injection 3.5L V6 engine in the E-Class lineup, this time detuned to produce 248 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque.  This engine is not to be confused with the also recently introduce 3.5L V6 with direct injection that produces 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque found in the E 350.  No, I am testing the E 300 whose name doesn’t relate to the old engine displacement naming conventions from Mercedes of old, but may have been chosen because “the other E 350” didn’t have a nice ring to it.

As the name 4Matic implies, this Mercedes sedan has power sent to all four wheels via the ubiquitous 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission.  Although the E 300 is no lightweight with a curb weight of 1,815 kg, power is actually quite decent.  There is more get-up-and-go than would be expected for 248 hp burdened with four wheels to spin.  This E-Class hovers down the highway in a way that only German cars seem capable of and can both build and sustain speed quicker than your left brain would think possible given the spec sheet.  Part of the E-Class’s secret lies in a very slippery 0.26 coefficient of drag.  This slipperiness also has a positive effect on fuel economy as the E 300 4Matic is officially rated at 11.1 L/100 km in the city and 7.0 L/100 km on the highway.  We achieved an average of 10.7 L/100 km in our time with the Mercedes.

2012 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
2012 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
2012 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan
2012 Mercedes-Benz E 300 4Matic Sedan. Click image to enlarge

But the real forte of a Mercedes-Benz sedan has always been to coddle its passengers and here the E 300 mostly succeeds.  Case in point, the seat belt gives you a little hug upon start up; what could be more coddling? Overall the interior looks classy if not a bit too conservative.  The car comes very well equipped for a base model, but may be missing a few key options for its list price.

What our test car did include is the upgraded black leather seating surface, brake-pad wear indicators, heated windshield washer system, residual engine heat usage, and active bi-xenon lights.  Being a Mercedes, there is also power everything, including the 14-way driver’s seat, trunk, headrest, rear sunshade, sunroof and tilt/telescopic steering column.

The front seats are supportive and fit many different body types.  The rear seats, however, aren’t quite as accommodating as was expected for a mid-size luxury car and with four full grown men in the car, rear legroom was at a premium.  At 540 L, the trunk is quite generous and maybe a few inches of its space could have been spared to the rear seat passengers.

Back up front, the integration of an analog clock and information computer into the gauge cluster is executed very well and looks the proper luxurious part.  The sound system is clear, loud, and pretty straightforward to use.  Be that as it may, I hated that there is no dedicated audio control button on the steering wheel.  I needed to use the arrow buttons go through the audio section of the gauge-based computer to change channels, which was a distraction when driving if I was on a different menu screen.

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