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An E-Class act

In spite of being priced cheaper than the Mercedes E350, the newest E250 manages to flaunt class with great elan.

autos Updated: Apr 14, 2010 16:57 IST
Christopher Chaves

If that popular pastry shop around the corner flashed a reduced price-tag on the hottest selling item on its menu, you’d think that the item would sell like...well, hot cakes. That’s what the bakers at Mercedes-Benz India seem to have had in mind when they came up with the latest E250. On first arrival, many potential buyers considered owning the E350 (that debuted last October), but the car’s price-tag seemed to have numbed the reach-for-the-chequebook impulse of a respectable number of people. Seeing the want for owning and running a more affordable E, Merc came up with the new E250, which is basically the 350 with a heart transplant (the same motor as the C250).

Looks
From the exterior, the new E250 is very much like the E350 — its bold lines tip downward in aggression from the toned rear to the sophisticated headlights up front. The visible differences here are the design of the alloy wheels and the obvious rear badging, which now tells of the smaller 2497 cc V6 under the hood.

Though not as powerful as the E350, the petrol-friendly 250 enjoys being revved. The sprightly engine is complemented by a sporty dual exhaust. Yes, it’s refined at idle with no vibration and noise, but on reaching higher revs the engine begins to sound abrasive.

Engine and performance
Having a smaller heart doesn’t mean that this E-class is an underperformer in any way. From a standstill, the 100 kph mark is breached in a quick 10.72 seconds (2.5 seconds adrift of the E350). As expected, the E250’s 204 bhp engine has a comparatively weak bottom end but the mid- and top-end performance that follows packs a wallop.

Pumping out 24.9 kgm of torque at 5500 rpm, the engine is more than comfortable as it works incessantly at about 80 per cent of its capacity.

Working the gears
Unlike the diesel E250 that uses a five-speed gearbox, the petrol employs a 7G-Tronic gearbox that makes good of the engine. The box is worked by the gear stalk and paddle shifts, both features which are not available with the diesel version. You get two settings — ‘comfort’ and ‘sport’ — with this gearbox. The ‘comfort’ mode will do for most of your day-to-day driving.

When looking to pick up the pace, you can shift through gears in a smooth and linear manner and doesn’t require you to drastically work the paddle shift. But on slowing down, it hesitates before downshifting and finding the gear that gets you back up to speed.

Thankfully, a tap on the left paddle shift allows you to rejuvenate momentum and power your way out of dicey situations. Use the ‘sport’ mode only when you want the gearbox to respond quicker and rev longer. This mode lets you downshift more aggressively too.

Speed sensitive steering
The ‘direct control’ speed- sensitive steering works well and moves in precise directions at all speeds. The steering is light at low speeds, which helps in city traffic. As speed increases it weighs up a bit, but lacks the feedback that you would expect. It doesn’t take much effort to flick the 1735 kg E250 around. This gives you one more reason to drive the car yourself rather than being chauffeured around.

The suspension doesn’t give in to flaws in the tarmac easily and remains very composed when carrying speed through corners. However, the air-con vents at the rear tend to disturb the peace a bit.

But being kitted with safety equipment like six airbags, Anti-lock Braking System and Brake Assist System shows that though this E-class comes with a fair chunk of price missing, key safety features are prevalent.