Test Drive: The New Mercedes E300 Estate
Ian Lamming is more than impressed with the latest E Class Estate
WHAT have we become? Impatient, attention deficit disordered, digitised. I blame technology.
We can’t bare to be unoccupied, even for a second, so when the traffic lights turn red and we must stop, don’t think for a moment we will spend the minutes at rest. Oh know, most of us will fiddle with the controls, the more naughty drivers might reach for their phones, but what is certain is that we will be looking down not through the windscreen when the lights turn to green.
Mercedes knows human nature all too well and to get over this errant driver failing it has introduced augmented reality. So it doesn’t matter that we are not staring reality in the face, eyes looking straight ahead, because the screen on the dash becomes a live camera showing the world in front and alerting you to the traffic when it moves off at the lights. It also continues once under way and points very useful arrows of direction until the next manoeuvre is complete. Clever that but then the E300 de AMG Line Night Edition Estate is a bit of a clever clogs all through.
For one thing it is a first for me. I’ve had plenty of plug-in hybrids but until now they have always melded petrol with hybrid electric. The E300 ‘de’ does this in similar fashion but with a 2.0 litre diesel motor and to brilliant effect.
Like many hybrids the Mercedes tends to pull away and run at low speed in electric, spookily quiet and supremely smooth, turning off the CO2 completely and boosting miles per gallon nicely. After that it will mix and match flicking between combustion and electric at its whim, well when its brain tells it to for maximum efficiency. Then, when you need some wallop, it will combine both in a 300hp+ tyre-shredding blast of power.
You don’t have to think too much about the wheres or the why fors, just wallow in the silky stunning performance and enjoy the tank range that comes with an easy to achieve average fuel consumption well in to the 50s.
I love Mercedes for their unique power delivery which eats miles for breakfast, lunch and tea, offering blistering performance but in a far from frenetic manner. Nothing is quite as relaxed as a Mercedes unless it is another Mercedes.
On this occasion E300 de AMG Line comes in Estate form and it looks fabulous in a smart, classic and understated way. It has always stuck in my mind that several models ago Mercedes boasted that the E Class Estate was one of the few cars you could fit a double wardrobe in the back. Sadly those days have gone with the de as the electric motor gubbins intrudes sticking up prominently from the boot floor. You might still get one in over the top but it would have to be thinner.
Another reason for loving thenew E Class is that it comes with a glorious interior. The switches, dials, controls and generally driver focussed cockpit is utterly endearing. There are pads and buttons, touch screen and even touch buttons on the steering wheel, which intuitively work their way through myriad functions. It sounds a bit overwhelming but isn’t and really works very well indeed.
With many premium brands I find myself asking whether they are worth the premium price tag but with Mercedes it undoubtedly is as you can see what you are getting for your money. It is just plain lovely. Dynamics, specification and quality build combine to make you patient, keep your attention and represent the very best use of the latest digital technology.
E 300 de AMG Line Night Edition Estate
Engine: 2.0 diesel/plug-in electric hybrid
0-62mph: 6.0 secs
Top speed: 155mph
Combined MPG: 54.3
Transmission: nine-speed auto
CO2 g/km: 36