Mercedes-Benz E-class review – executive tour-de-force still one to be reckoned with - Engine and gearbox
The E-class is more diverse, multi-talented and capable than ever, but still retains those key Mercedes attributes
The 220d’s four-cylinder twin-turbo engine produces 191bhp at 3800rpm and 295lb ft of torque between 1600 and 2800rpm. It’s only available with Mercedes’ 9G-Tronic Plus nine-speed automatic gearbox and it’s a gem of a transmission.
Considering its cylinder count, the 220d’s engine is remarkably refined both in terms of engine noise and power delivery. There’s the slightest hint of a diesel motor on cold start-up, but from then on it’s only the tacho redlining at 4500rpm and the diesel badge on the back that gives the game away.
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The engine’s delivery is strong across the range and it doesn’t run out of puff as quickly as many modern turbo diesel engines do. As a result the gearbox isn’t hunting for another gear the moment it changes up, adding to the relaxed nature of the E-class.
With nine gears to work with the four-cylinder is never stressed or caught out, with the gearbox changing intuitively and with the speed of the latest double-clutch units. In normal, everyday driving you’ll be hard-pressed to tell it’s even changing gear.
The E400d is the highlight of the non-AMG range though, as it’s all-new 3-litre in-line six diesel is frugal, yet incredibly rapid and refined. As noted above, the E400d will reach 62mph in under five seconds, but more impressive than the numbers is the engine’s incredible urge at any speed, at any revs, and in any gear. A full 516lb ft of torque is available at between 1200 and 3200rpm, and it only vaguely tapers from there, revving right to the 5000rpm red line with incredible clarity and urge. It even makes a cultured noise, and perfectly suits the E400d’s GT credentials.
The new E53 has even more urge, is just as charismatic, and feels even punchier on the road, even if its torque isn’t quite as prodigious throughout the rev range. Finally we come to the ubiquitous 4-litre AMG twin-turbo V8 engine featured in the E63 S, a favourite in almost all its applications. Rated at 603bhp it may have been usurped by the BMW M5 Competition’s 616bhp, yet in reality no one will feel shortchanged, feeling other-worldly fast on the road thanks to that power figure, not to mention its 627lb ft of torque.
All powertrains are connected to a nine-speed automatic transmission, although the E63 S does away with the torque converter in favour of a wet clutch to sharpen up change times and response. Full-house AMG 63 S models are only available in saloon and estate forms, while the Coupe and Cabriolet are both also available with larger non-AMG petrol six-cylinder engine options such as the E350 and E450.