Available as a four-door sedan, estate wagon, convertible or two-door coupe, Mercedes-Benz’s E-class was well into its fourth generation by 2011 and still represented the heart of the company’s lineup.
Not as pricey or exclusive as the S-class, it was a cut above the C-class stable.
It was also one of the prettiest cars on the road and emulated by other manufacturers, such as Hyundai and Volkswagen.
Arguably the most visually appealing model was the new coupe, which replaced the CLK 350 in 2010. From its arrowhead front end to a back deck evocative of some of Mercedes’ models of the 1950s, this one was a knockout.
That said, most buyers opted for a four-door sedan when it came to their primary form of transport. By Mercedes’ admission, coupe aficionados have traditionally been completely different creatures from sedan buyers, so even a stunning piece of eye candy like the E-class two-door didn’t sell in huge numbers.
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Sharing platforms and many components, the 2010 E-Class sedan and coupe were offered in Canada in two variants: E350 and E550. A formidable AMG E63 was also available. The former featured a 3.5-litre V6 engine, while the latter was handily propelled by a lusty 380-horsepower V8. Needless to say, both models were chock-a-block with mechanical and engineering features that covered everything from front-end accident avoidance to high-speed cornering stability.
One of the more intriguing features was Mercedes’ Attention Assist system, which monitored the driver, taking note of driving habits and evaluating them, with a view to providing a warning at the onset of fatigue or drowsiness. A cute little coffee cup graphic on the instrument cluster lit up to let the driver know they were being observed.
This was one of a myriad of high-tech features on the E-Class coupe. A few other noteworthy goodies included a dynamic handling package that, at the press of a dash-mounted button, allowed the driver to choose from comfort or sport setting; an adaptive cruise control that maintained a certain distance from the vehicle in front of you; and adaptive high-beam headlights that automatically adjusted according to the prevailing driving conditions.
The AMG version included 18-inch alloy wheels, bigger tires, upgraded brakes, different seats, and various interior bits and pieces. There was also an optional navigation package, upgraded leather and a 450-watt sound system. Not to mention a considerably higher price tag.
There’s one safety recall to report from Transport Canada, and it concerned the power steering system. The high-pressure line could leak, cause the pump to run dry and result in loss of steering. This glitch also applied to the Mercedes C-class of the same year.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had 17 technical service bulletins on file. These ranged from recalcitrant front seatbelts to issues with the vehicles’ “limp home” mode to problems opening and closing the rear doors in cold weather.
Although the 2011 E-class did have its weak points – particularly in the electrical system – Consumer Reports liked it a lot. “The E-class sedan and wagon have been among the best cars CR has tested,” they enthused, giving it top marks in virtually every category, save electrical, which got a failing grade.
Some comments from owners
- “Command Control system controls are archaic and complicated”;
- “super visibility in all directions”;
- “better than expected gas mileage”;
- “love the legroom.”
No ambiguity here from marketing researcher J.D. Power. Aside from some issues with the car’s performance level, it received top marks in every department from J.D. Power and an “among the best” rating for overall performance and design.
Expect to pay from the low to mid-$20,000 range for an E350 sedan, right up to the mid-$30,000s for a loaded E550. The coupe seems to be valued at less than the sedan.
2011 Mercedes E-Class
Original base price: $58,600 to $73,200
Engine: 3.5-litre V6 and 5.5-litre V8
Horsepower: 268 and 382
Torque: 258 and 391 foot pounds
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic with manual shift mode
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 11.9 city and 7.6 highway (V6), with premium gas
Some alternatives: Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Infiniti M45, Lexus GS, Jaguar XF, Porsche Panamera
Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He was named Canadian Automobile Journalist of the Year twice and is past president of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). For interview requests, click here.
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