Early last year, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia rolled out three new locally assembled refreshed variants to the E-Class range, namely the E 350 AMG Line (RM399,888); E 300 Exclusive Line (RM379,888) and E 200 Sportstyle Avantgarde (RM329,888).
The refreshed E-Class trio received quite a number of updates in looks, performance and safety features.
Our test drive unit here is the E 300 Exclusive Line which replaces the previous E 250 Exclusive Line, and is only RM20,000 cheaper than the E 350 AMG Line.
Compared with the higher-priced E 350 AMG Line, the E 300 Exclusive Line gets less power (lower by 41hp and 30Nm of torque) from the same turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, mated to a nine-speed torque converter automatic transmission.
You still get plenty of muscle from the E 300 Exclusive Line, which produces 258hp and 370Nm of torque, and very quick acceleration (0 to 100kph sprint in 6.2 seconds).
Looks and features
Unlike the other two refreshed E-Class saloon variants which carry sportier looks with the big central star emblem in the radiator grille, the E 300 Exclusive Line carries a more stately and elegant look with a classic Mercedes radiator grille, and the iconic three-pointed star mounted on the bonnet.
This is known locally as the "uncle" or "towkay (business owner)" look.
In the cabin, the elegant look is emphasised by black Nappa leather upholstery, chromed door handles, and glossy wood trim and stitched leather surfaces.
A classic clock in the centre console lends a charming old school contrast to the dual screen display for the digital cockpit, and modern tech such as COMAND Online infotainment system with touchpad controller.
You also get the convenience of using finger swipes on the touch sensitive steering wheel buttons to scroll through the Navigation, radio, media, telephone, and vehicle settings as well as options for Mercedes-Benz Apps, Link, Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
This E-Class has lots of upscale features including a panoramic powered sliding sunroof, Burmester audio system, wireless charging pad for smartphones, powered tailgate and powered front seats with three memory settings.
For charging mobile devices, we found three USB ports (including two USB ports as well as a SD card slot in the centre storage box between the front seats).
Storage options include front seatback pockets, door pockets and a rear armrest with integrated cup holders and compartment.
Rear air-conditioning vents help to keep passengers cool and there is a huge 540-litre boot for those golf bags.
As expected of an E-Class, there is a barnful of premium safety and driving assistance technology including a 360-degree camera system (very useful during parking in tight spaces), Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus, Active Brake Assist, Active Parking Assist, Pre-Safe protective measures, and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
You also get run-flat tyres and Multibeam LED headlamps.
The E 300 Exclusive Line comes with a Lane Tracking package which includes Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist to ensure the driver does not drift into other traffic.
Running on Pirelli Cinturato P7 high performance runflat tyres sized 245/40 (front) and 275/35 (rear) wrapped around 19-inch wheels, the E 300 Exclusive Line provides a silky-smooth, refined ride quality especially in Comfort setting.
Ride comfort is top-notch, and we loved that discomfort from driving over potholes, bumps and irregularities on bad roads was marvellously cushioned.
The E 300 Exclusive Line is fitted with Agility Control suspension with selective damping system, which is designed to strike a good balance between ride comfort and sporty handling via shock absorbers that vary damping firmness according to driving dynamics - for example, damping is increased with more vehicle body roll.
We also like the convenience of switching drive modes via the steering column-mounted gear shifter stalk.
We enjoyed the muscle and responsiveness of the turbocharged powertrain, and in Sport or Sport+ settings, there is a low, throaty growl (quite muted thanks to the high quality sound insulation) when we stepped harder on the accelerator pedal.
The steering is light, accurate and responsive and we found the E 300 Exclusive Line to be impressively agile and nimble when driven at some speed in the corners.
The front sports seats bolster our bodies well.
The E 300 Exclusive Line delivers what one expects from an E-Class luxury saloon - a beautiful, well-appointed interior loaded with high-tech driving assistance systems, plenty of leg and head room, a big boot as well as a refined, buttery smooth ride.
At the same time, belying its stately and elegant looks, it offers plenty of brawn and a bit of sporty handling when you want some speed in getting to your destination.
Mercedes-Benz E 300 Exclusive Line
Engine: 1,991cc, four-cylinder turbocharged
Maximum power: 258hp at 5,800rpm
Maximum torque: 370Nm at 1,800 to 4,000rpm
Transmission: 9G-Tronic nine-speed torque converter automatic
Features: Agility Control suspension and Dynamic Select (Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport +, Individual), Multibeam LED headlamps, 19-inch 10-spoke light-alloy wheels, Nappa leather upholstery, panoramic sliding sunroof, automatic climate control, sunblind in rear doors, powered adjustable front seats with memory function, 4-way lumbar support, wireless charging pad for smartphones, powered bootlid, Burmester audio system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
Safety features: 360-degree camera system, Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus, Active Brake Assist, Active Parking Assist, Pre-Safe safety systems, Tyre pressure monitoring system, run-flat tyres, Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist,
Price (OTR without insurance): RM379,888