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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I was looking into prospects for the eventual replacement of our mid-life B 200 today and I decided to check out the new E-Class 4 cylinder diesel in Nanaimo BC Canada. I didn't go into Three Point Motors expecting or even wanting a road test, but that's what I ended up doing.

I didn't like the "thunder thighs" design around the rear wheel arch of the current E Class when it first came out in 2009, but with last year's facelift, that styling faux pas was removed and it's a far better-looking car from the side. The FE ratings are excellent, at 6.1 L/100 km overall; 7.4 urban, with 4.6 on the highway (45 US MPG according to the EPA).

The car is of excellent quality inside as one would expect, and it drives nicely. The steering has a nice feel to it, better than the Nintendo steering of the B Class. The ride is firm but not harsh and its seats are really comfortable. Space-wise, it has as much headroom and nearly as much legroom (5 mm less to be exact) in the rear as the W245 B Class that we own, but it's 5 cm wider, front and rear. This car passes the "me behind me" test beautifully.

The integrated navigation screen next to the instrument cluster is done well (unlike the new B, CLA and forthcoming C-Class, which have an iPad-type thing stuck on top of the dash, with no possibility of folding the screen away). On the E it doesn't fold but it doesn't need to because it's at the same height as the main instruments. The analogue clock in the centre of the dash is a nice touch too. The interior plastics are of excellent quality and are for the most part softly padded.

The dark woodgrain on the doors and dash that comes with the car looks really nice. Despite the fact that the more "woody" looking woods in M-B cars really do have a thin veneer bonded to aluminium, it manages to look fake. But the dark ash doesn't.

The twin turbo 4 cylinder engine is quiet and yet when starting from cold, you can tell it's a diesel…but despite its modest consumption and displacement, it pulls the heavy (1800 kg) car around with authority, and there is zero turbo lag that I could notice at any speed. I can see that it would be a very comfortable cruiser for a road trip to the Rockies, for example. On a short loop around Nanaimo we got about 6.5 L/100 km according to the dashboard gauge.

The starting price is $57,800 CAD but the base price includes 4MATIC 4WD, sunroof, COMAND navigation, electric seats, folding mirrors, a host of cold-weather stuff and metallic paint. Once the C 250 CDI (same engine in the new C-Class) is released in Canada in 2014, I would expect that getting similar equipment on that car will bring it within $5000 of the E Class price. The only things I would need as options would be leather seats, heated rear seats and (probably) active LED headlamps. I don't think the latter are legal in the USA due to DOT requirements, but we get the fully active E-Code versions in Canada.

Nice car!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
After the test drive I became curious about the 45 MPG highway claim (51 US MPG in Canada's standard highway test cycle)....

so I managed to make contact with a Florida owner of one of these cars over the weekend and he had conducted some detailed fuel economy tests over a ten mile stretch of Interstate that was both flat and straight. The car's OBC was used to arrive at the averages and even accounting for the somewhat optimistic readings an OBC can give, it was interesting. Here is what he reported, with windows up, sunroof closed and A/C off:

1400 RPM - 58 MPH: 60.3 MPG
1500 RPM - 64 MPH: 57.4 MPG
1600 RPM - 68 MPH: 53.5 MPG
1700 RPM - 72 MPH: 52.3 MPG
1800 RPM - 77 MPH: 46.1 MPG
1900 RPM - 80 MPH: 42.8 MPG
 
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