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Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2009 review: snapshot

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Elegance has evolved into elan in the E-Class range. The conservative creases on the outgoing model have been resculpted into contemporary curves that make Mercedes-Benz midrange models genuinely sexy.

The E has always enjoyed the moral high ground; brilliantly built, prestige transporters with a focus on safety and occupant comfort. The staid styling, though, has seen younger professionals head to BMW and Audi. That should stop with this model, particularly when the adrenaline-added AMG models arrive later this year.

Drivetrains

For now the E500 sedan and coupe share top billing. The 5.5-litre V8 engines are carried over, but there's nothing wrong with sticking to 285kW and 530Nm.

Mate that performance to a seven-speed auto and you have awesome midrange acceleration and a top end best tested on a track. Bury the right foot and the V8 emits enough of a growl to intrude into the cabin. With less urgency the Merc is virtually silent ... all the better to hear the startled inhalations from first-time passengers as the coupe hooks in to a hairpin.

Handling

The E-Class is built on the C-Class platform, so it's not surprising the Merc handles like a more compact car. What is surprising is how tenaciously it hangs on with the suspension set to Sport, giving just a touch of understeer to warn when momentum is close to overtaking mechanical grip.

Press on from there and the software safety suite kicks in with a flicker of amber lights on the dash, as the inside wheels are automatically slowed to get you around the corner.

The Merc points where you want it to, but doesn't offer the same feel through the wheel of its German rivals — it's more insulated, but no more insecure.

Take-off is the only time you'll find the classy coupe lagging. There's relatively little go until the engine has wound up so you won't be winning the launch off the lights. It does, however, make dawdling in traffic and car parks a much easier proposition, so I suspect it's an engineered effect.

Equipment and fit-out

The interior has all the fruit you'd expect for $175,000, packaged in a layout that is as practical as it is polished. Every control is logical; most are intuitive. Press the buttons on the radio, for example, and the station change is instant; twist the dial and it scrolls through the frequencies. Nice.

Boot space is cavernous and access to the rear seats is pretty straightforward. Lift a lever on the side of the seats and the motors roll it forward, so 180cm passengers can enter and exit without being gymnasts. They may, however, be a bit cramped once they're in: the sloping coupe roof on the coupe does limit headroom.

If you're a genuinely enthusiastic driver, hold fire until the AMG arrives here early next year with the promise of a truly dynamic drive. Most people, however, will find the E500 more than a match for their driving, with luxury that you'd expect from a top-of-the-range S-Class.

 

Pricing guides

$21,990
Based on 47 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$14,990
Highest Price
$43,989

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
E500 Avantgarde 5.5L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $28,990 – 36,990 2009 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2009 E500 Avantgarde Pricing and Specs
E250 CDI Avantgarde 2.1L, Diesel, 5 SP AUTO $14,999 – 21,990 2009 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2009 E250 CDI Avantgarde Pricing and Specs
E250 CDI Elegance 2.1L, Diesel, 5 SP AUTO $20,900 – 26,400 2009 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2009 E250 CDI Elegance Pricing and Specs
E250 CGI Avantgarde 1.8L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $14,990 – 24,950 2009 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2009 E250 CGI Avantgarde Pricing and Specs