Sunday, November 14, 2010

Car review: Mercedes Benz E220 CDI W212 Avantgarde


Model (Code / Model Year): Mercedes Benz E220 CDI (W212 / 2009)
Engine: 2.15 liter 4-cylinder bi-turbo diesel engine
Paintwork & Interior + interior trim: Iridium silver metallic & Artico black + Trim elements black ash wood
Optional Equipment: Design line Avantgarde (Cornering light function, Adaptive Main Beam Assist, 5-twin-spoke light-alloy wheel 43.2 cm (17"), Cornering Light System, Intelligent Light System with bi-xenon, LED daytime running lights, Mirrors package, Direct Control suspension, Headlamp wash), Ashtray & cigarette lighter, Audio 50 APS with DVD navigation system, 5-speed automatic with tipfunction & speedtronic cruise control, bluetooth
Performance: 170hp / 400nm
0 to 100km/h: 8,8sec
Top speed: 227km/h (143mp/h)
Fuel consumption in liter / 100km (U.S. miles per gallon): 9,5 liter / 100 kilometer (24,76mpg / US)
Price (Germany): €50.271,55
W212 engines driven: E200 CGI, E350 CGI, E220 CDI and E350 CDI (CGI = petrol, CDI = diesel)

  
1. Exterior


Mercedes Benz is actively trying to convey a more modern and stylish look, competing with Audi and BMW, as Mercedes Benz' traditional target group is growing older and slowly getting extinct. Contrary to the its predecessor (W211), the change of design is resembled by the ninth generation E-class (internally known as the W212 for the sedan, and S212 for the estate), that has more straight and angular lines. Highlighting this change towards modernism is the Avantgarde package, that includes LED daytime running lights among other features. LED-technology is not only limited to the front of the car, it is also utilized at the rear of the car.

For the paintwork a range of colors is available, ranging from several shades of black, grey, blue to silver and white. At the end of this review you will find a series of pictures with the E200 CGI in Obsidian black metallic, the E220 CDI in Iridium silver metallic and the E350 CDI Kombi in Calcite white. Standing out from the normal range of colors is Cuprite brown metallic, which is a dark reddish / brown tone. It seems that brown is succeeding white as a fashionable color, as Audi and BMW also introduced their own brownish colors.




2.Engine, Transmission & handling


Not all the W212 have the same transmission, the 4-cylinder (E200, E220 and E250) have the 5-speed automatic gearbox, while the 6- and 8-cylinder (E300, E350 and E500) are equipped with the 7G-tronic. This has a negative impact on both the performance and driving experience of the 4-cylinder W212s.


Engine and transmission


Mercedes Benz E200 CGI and E220 CDI (4-cylinder, 5-speed automatic gearbox)


In the E200 CGI, a 4-cylinder petrol engine with a turbo delivers an output of 184hp and 230km/h topspeed. When driving, the car always has sufficient power and never feels slowish, while the engine sounds refined and never becomes too audible. However, the main drawback is the 5-speed gearbox. It is slow to respond to the drivers input, and the lack of gears means that it has to rev higher at a certain speed. This results in part of the power of the engine being “sunk” into the gearbox, while the higher revs result in higher noise levels and an increased fuel consumption.

A direct (diesel) counterpart to the E200 CGI is the E220 CDI, roughly delivering the same output (170hp and 227km/h topspeed), but utilizing two turbo's instead of just one. A small turbo is used in the lower part of the revs, and when the revs build, a big turbo kicks in. This results in a reduced turbo lag, and the maximum output of the engine is reached faster. Unfortunately, it is not all gold that glitters. Mated to the same 5-speed automatic gearbox, it means that the E220 CDI suffers the same drawbacks as the E200 CGI. Although feeling a bit more powerful due to the two turbo's, the fuel consumption is around 1 to 1.5 liters higher compared to the BMW 520d E60. When driving, the gearbox is very unruly while shifting up and down trying to find the right gear. By nature, a diesel engine conveys a higher level of noise, but in the E220 CDI it is downright obnoxious. These problems could be overcome if Mercedes Benz would fit its 7G-tronic into the E220 CDI, vastly improving the driving experience due to lower revs, faster gear shifts and a lower fuel consumption. According to unconfirmed sources, Mercedes Benz will introduce the 7G-tronic into the 4-cylinder models somewhere in 2011.

Average fuel consumption, driving on the Autobahn most of the time:

Fuel consumption E200 CGI: 11,0l / 100km (21,38mpg / US)
Fuel consumption E220 CDI: 9,5l / 100km (24,76mpg / US)


Mercedes Benz E350 CGI and E350 CDI (6-cylinder, 7G-tronic)


Turning to the 6-cylinder engines, a completely different driving experience is felt. Part of this is due to the nature of a 6-cylinder engine, that is smoother and more powerful, but also due to the 7G-tronic that is more responsive.

Performance of the E350 CGI is rated at 292hp with a topspeed of 250km/h, produced by a V6 engine a 3.5 liter displacement. It is an extremely smooth, yet powerful engine. To develop the full potential, the car has to build up revs, which the 7G-tronic does very precise and fast. The car pulls right up to 250km/h without problems, always having enough power in reserve. Only the fuel consumption is, when driving at higher speeds, quite high. For a coupe or convertible that is not such a problem, but with a sedan or estate the range is more important.

The E350 CDI engine is a 6-cylinder diesel engine with 231hp (now, 265hp) and a topspeed of 240km/h for the “Kombi”, as the estate is called in Germany. Compared to the E350 CGI, the diesel engine does substantially resemble the experience. Most noticeable is that the engine is almost as quit as its petrol counterpart, at low revs it is almost not audible at all. Performance is always readily available, although at higher speeds (above 180km/h) it seems to get more sluggish.

The 7G-tronic does its job very good, but the main advantage of the diesel is its better fuel consumption. Although it is better then the petrol engine, it still is not as good compared to Audi's 3.0 TDI oder BMW 530d, the average fuel consumption is around one liter higher, something all the W212's seem to suffer from, regardless the engine. Probably the slightly more unfavorable drag coefficient is the cause of this, as the weight of the car is comparable to the competition.

But in all, the E350 CDI probably is the best engine for the W212, combining fuel economy with performance and lots of comfort in terms of engine noise and gearbox changes.

Average fuel consumption, driving on the Autobahn most of the time:

E350 CGI: 13,1l / 100km (17,96mpg / US)
E350 CDI: 10,6l / 100km (22,19mpg / US)


Handling:


An altered Direct Control suspension (stiffer and 15mm lower) is included in the Avantgarde package, resulting in a different handling compared to the standard suspension. In the Avantgarde trim, the cars response is direct and the driver is better connected to the road, reducing the spongy response that Mercedes Benz normally has. Audis and BMWs in this class tend to be more nervous as high speeds, requiring the driver to put effort into the driving. The Avantgarde suspension does an excellent job here, it is not as nervous as the Audi and BMW, while also not as spongy as the standard MBs are, dampening the extreme forces on the car, resulting in a smooth and calm handling, while still providing enough information to the driver to give him the feeling that he is in control. In short, the handling of the W212 Avantgarde is very impressive, especially as it combines “sport” and “comfort” in such a refined way, whereas Audi and BMW are focused more towards “sport”.


3. Interior & Technical Features


With the new design of the W212, Mercedes Benz also has continued its concept of a central controller that steers several functions of the car, but contrary to BMW's iDrive there still remain a substantial amount of buttons in the center console, somewhat distracting the drivers attention from the road. But a large improvement is that the entertainment screen now moved upwards, and the drivers attention is not directed more downwards as in the W211. A difference between the 4- and 6-cylinders is that the first one still have an old-fashioned gear selector in the middle, while the latter ones have a gear selector attached to the steering wheel. Generally, most of the interior looks premium, from switches to the steering wheel, it feels pleasant and solid.

Contrary to this positive perception, some details are very disappointing as they are not in line with the otherwise premium impression the W212 makes. In the center console, the buttons for the seat heating, and the combi instrument for the windscreen wipers and indicators give a flimsy and cheap impression. Also the LED-displays for the Parktronic are not of the premium level that can be expected from a car in this class.

In the E220 CDI, the APS50 navigation system has been built in. It does a good job showing directions, but the additional functions are very limited. Other satnav systems display the traffic messages (TMC) directly into the main screen to draw the drivers attention, but the APS50 requires a manual check of the submenu. Another disadvantage is that near junctions, the satnav does not show a splitscreen with the map and the arrow next to it, but only shows the arrow instead. Apart from that, the central controller and the software itself (for operating the cars entertainment system) is easy to understand and operate.

When driving different brands of cars, one very easily is getting used to the prominent system. The Parktronic of Mercedes Benz is an example of a system that works differently. Normally the intensity of the sound increases while in the center display the distance to an object is shown. The Parktronic system however only shows colors in the LED-display at the front or the back, showing LED-lights when closing in on an object only to start making sounds when the object is in the direct vicinity of the car. When relying on solely the sound as most systems are configured, it takes time to get used to Mercedes Benz' Parktronic.

4.Optional Equipment


This section discusses (part of) the optional equipment available on the W212. Ranking from 1 (definitely a yes), 2 (nice to have, but not a minimum requirement) to 3 (not worth the money).

  • Avantgarde package, includes Bi-xenon headlamps, nice alloy wheels and LED-lighting. Compared to the Elegance- or Standard-package, the Avantgarde Package gives the car a more modern and up-to-date appearance. (ranking: 1)
  • Remote boot closing is a nice feature to keep your hands clean when opening or closing the trunk of a dirty car. (ranking: 2)
  • Multi-contour front seats - driver and passenger, if the standard seats do not match the drivers preference, the multi-contour seats offer a comfort premium (ranking: 2)
  • Electric glass sunroof, allows extra light into the car, and in good weather enables the driver to enjoy the wind / sun a bit more. However, at speeds above 100km/h (60mp/h) it makes too much noise. (ranking: 2)
  • Ashtray & cigarette lighter, allows the connection of the adapter for charging a mobile phone. (ranking: 1)
  • Night view assist plus, the display in the center console is distracting too much from the road, so the system only has limited use, especially for the amount of money charged for it.. (ranking: 3)
  • Reversing camera is useful to see objects behind the car, but the Parktronic will also pick this up. (ranking: 2)
  • TV tuner allows to watch TV in the car, but only at slow speeds. (ranking: 2)
  • Harman Kardon® Logic 7® Surround-sound system is a big upgrade compared to the standard system, but only required is the standard system is not sufficient for the owner. (ranking: 2)
  • Audio 50 APS with DVD navigation system is sufficient for giving directions, but its options are limited. Also it does not have a splitscreen and is not always showing the accurate TMC traffic information. The COMAND system might be a bit more expensive, but also has a larger range of options available. (ranking: 3)
  • COMAND Navigation (integrated 6 disc CD/DVD changer, HDD map navigation, 6GB music register, PCMCIA slot and Linguatronic) is an integrated multimedia system, not only the satellite navigation, but also the telephone and entertainment options are integrated into this system and operated from one central unit. (ranking: 1)
  • 80 litre fuel tank is more convenient as it gives the car a larger range. (ranking: 1) 
  • Active Blind Spot Assist (ranking: 1) 
  • DISTRONIC PLUS incl. PRE-SAFE®-Brake (ranking: 2)
  • Active Lane Keeping Assist. (ranking: 2)
  • Parktronic helps the driver to judge the distance when parking near objects. (ranking: 1)

Final thoughts:


After a total of 9.000 kilometers (5625 miles) in several W212s, it has proven to be a good car but unfortunately it also suffers from several flaws. The first, and most important one, is that the 5-speed automatic transmission is outdated, resulting in a decreased driving experience and increased fuel consumption. The 7G-tronic should solve these issues, and it is expected that it will be introduced in 2011 (in the 4-cylinder models).

Another point of critique is the quality of the interior, in which details are not up to the premium standard. Mercedes Benz could have used better materials here, and dropped the ball by using sub-standard materials.


Apart from these points, the new E-class still remains a good car. In terms of comfort it is the best car in its class, with an excellent handling, very quit E350 CDI diesel engine and a good standard seat. The E-class is also one of the biggest cars in its class, having more then sufficient space in the front and back, while the trunk holds a large volume of cargo.


Only one serious issue is known at the moment, during 2009 and early 2010 the W212 suffered of injector problems. This problem was limited to the E220 and E250 CDI, but seems to be resolved in early 2010. When buying a second hand W212, it is recommended to check if these problems have already been resolved. Apart from that the W212 is a good buy as a second hand car, the engine and transmission are reliable, and time has to show if the biturbo concept on the E220 and E250 also is durable.


If you have any questions left, feel free to contact me through the comments below!

Edit 24-11-2010:

Numerous problems with the electric wiring (wiring harness) of the E200 CDI to E250 CDI have been reported, as of this moment, Mecedes Benz is trying to work out the cause of the problem.


Pictures of the Mercedes Benz E200 CGI, E220 CDI and E350 CDI Kombi (click on the slideshow to view the folder):




In the video section you will find more videos of the Mercedes Benz E220 CDI and E350 CDI Kombi:











Next episode: Audi A6 3.0 TDI Avant 4F



Note, in this review the options and packages in Germany are discussed, so small details might deviate from local standards.

2 comments:

car pictures said...

Nice post. thank you for sharing.

my car pictures

MDCT said...

I LOVE my 2011/Mercedes Benz/E220 CDI(W212) however am horrified that after 3 years and only 40,000 kms some vibrations
sent me to Mercedes workshop to find that the engine mounts had collapsed and all 3 had to replaced. As the car is out of Warranty, Mercedes wanted $1900 to replace despite the fact that the parts cost $625 wholesale. After much discussion, I was asked to pay 25% of the total quote....and they refused to give me the parts.....Having had many cars over 40 years this has been the first time I have had to replace engine mounts.....ANYONE ELSE HAD SIMILAR and has MERCEDES come to the party?

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