Once considered a laughable notion, the downsizing of V8 engines to potent, turbocharged six-cylinder powerplants really has become synonymous with efficiency and fun over the past few years. Originally reserved for the likes of Japanese sports cars like the Toyota Supra, Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4, and Nissan 300ZX, this move toward boosted technology has been well received by Americans, with Ford and its EcoBoost engines leading the way here in the states. So when Mercedes-Benz announced that it was doing away with the torque-rich V8 found in its midsize E-Class line in favor of a dual spool 3.0-liter V6, no one seemed to flip out, and many Euro enthusiasts merely remarked that it was about time they caught up with the likes of BMW’s twin-turbo offerings.
Last year, the E-Class sedan received very high marks by landing a pair of Edmunds “A” ratings and sweeping Car and Driver critics off their feet. With its new turbocharged engine option ready to blast pass everyone else, this next level of German engineering is slated to give drivers the power numbers they crave, all with the efficiency numbers that today’s modern age demands. Toss in a healthy slathering of safety stolen from the latest and greatest S-Class, and it’s time to say goodbye to bland as this middle-of-the-road Mercedes gives us more bang for the buck than ever before. Oh, and did we mention that the turbocharged E400 produces 329 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, all while showing-up less powerful models by getting around 23 miles per gallon?
But the competition is fierce, as the 2015 Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, and 2015 Lexus GS all sharpen their claws in preparation for a luxury showdown of Herculean proportions. Your wallet is the grand prize, yet none of these competitors have been able to offer as many body styles, driver packages, and engines as the E-Class, which leads us back to why critics are raving about this automobile.
Whether you want a midsize sedan, coupe, convertible, or wagon, the perfect engine/package combination can be found in the E-Class, and while each chassis style offers trim levels to complement different powerplants, it is the the turbocharged V6 variant that continuously attracts our eye. Sure, one could go off the deep end and opt for the turbocharged V8 E63 AMG, but that would require coughing up quite a lot of coin, and then you would likely be getting the fuel efficiency of a full-size RV. So to keep things practical (and still quite powerful), today’s focus will be pointed toward the twin-turbo V6 version exclusively, as it offers luxury buyers a stately Euro machine that can aggressively best its predecessor in the mile-per-gallon department, while throwing a lot of power to the pavement in the process.
All four-door, twin-turbo versions of the E-Class have been split into “Luxury” and “Sport” brackets in order to eliminate any buyer confusion because with this many options things can get convoluted pretty quick. While Luxury models roll with smaller, 17-inch alloy wheels, cushier tires, a traditional grille, and minimal aero upgrades, the Sport model gives us the goods via 18-inch wheels, a two-bar grille, sport-tuned suspension, and white gauges that compliment a three-spoke, race-inspired steering wheel.
Regardless of what direction you decide to follow, buyers of Luxury and Sport models of the sedan will receive standard LED headlights and taillight accents, adaptive dampers, a large sunroof, dual-zone climate control, 14-way power front seats with memory functions, MB-Tex simulated leather upholstery, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, auto-dimming mirrors, Mercedes’ COMAND electronics interface, Bluetooth connectivity, an eight-speaker sound system with six disc changer, and iPod/USB audio interface. Opt for the pricier but far more impressive E400 coupe or convertible, and you will receive many of the standard features found on the E350 Sport sedan. This adds 18-inch alloy wheels and heated leather sport seats, which are now a thing, and opting for a convertible version warrants a power-folding soft top, a rear center pass-through for skis, and a pop-up air deflector to keep turbulence to a minimum once those turbos build up enough boost.
If you are going to spend this much money on a car, you might as well customize it a bit. The Premium 1 package is a great place to begin; it adds a rearview camera, power-folding mirrors, split-folding rear seats, MB’s COMAND with navigation, satellite radio, a 14-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system, and a power rear window sunshade. For anyone who chooses the top-tier E550 in sedan trim, this package will also yield actively ventilated front seats, where regular heated front seats are typically found in all other models.
A lighting package is another option, featuring adaptive LED headlights, along with automatic high-beam headlight controls, while the Parking Assist package adds a surround-view camera system, and front and rear parking sensors to match Mercedes’ automated parallel-parking set-up. Another interesting consideration is the Keyless Go package, which has a keyless entry and ignition, a power trunk lid, and a function where drivers can open or close the trunk or liftgate by waving their foot beneath the rear bumper. Safety is a straightforward affair across the board, with every imaginable warning system coming into play, as the Driver Assistance package gives drivers extras like adaptive cruise control, active lane tracking/blind spot/rear cross-traffic assist, and collision warning/mitigation that ties into automatic braking.
But you’re not buying this car for safety. This is a high-revving, turbocharged performance sedan, and opting for a sport package is what we recommend. This way drivers can get 18-inch AMG wheels, painted brake calipers, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and multicontour front seats. If that’s not enough, the Redline Package can give you black AMG wheels that run all the way up to 19 inches, an AMG aero kit, gloss black body accents, sharper brakes and suspension, AMG edition multi-contour seats, and that D-cut steering wheel. Most versions of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz E-Class lineup are available with either rear or all-wheel drive (4Matic) powertrains, and while a manual gearbox would be nice, having a seven-speed automatic transmission mated to paddle shifters is good enough for most.
So what do we love most about the new E-Class besides its ability to be a bruiser? We love the amazing amount of standard equipment on this thing. Nowhere else can you get a driver drowsiness monitor, front pelvic airbags, driver knee airbag, telematics systems, automatically deploying rollover hoops in a convertible, and three available wood trim finishes free of charge. We also like that the E-Class was praised by the IIHS for having a “Superior” grade for front-crash prevention once the car was equipped with Pre-Safe and Driver Assistance packages, which is not something you see very often. Couple that with a roomy backseat that competes with a BMW 5 Series, and you’ve got a powerful Mercedes that doesn’t mind snuggling after a spirited romp between the sheets.
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