The smaller-engined E-class is equipped with regular steel springs, with the choice of three different driving settings available: Comfort, Comfortable Avantgarde which lowers the ride height by 15mm, and a Sport suspension option which includes further damper options and also lowers the car by 15mm.
Air suspension is available as an option and provides the E-class with a truly superior ride to that of any of its rivals. All models also offer four driving modes adjustable via the Dynamic Select control; you can select Comfort, Eco, Sport or Sport +, or dive deeper into the system and select your desired set-up in Individual mode.
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On the road, and especially so in the UK, an air-suspended E-class is an exceptional car to be in when it comes to ride quality. Occupants are isolated from any imperfections but without a sense of being disconnected from the process of driving. It absorbs poor surfaces, undulations and larger obstacles like few others can, with exceptional body control and refinement levels you would expect in a car from the class above.
When pushed, the E-class will revert to its executive roots, with a soft front end and a pair of front tyres that will break traction way before the rears become unstuck. It’s not a car you’d thread along a favourite stretch of road with a large grin on your face, but you will be impressed at how it flows and absorbs compressions and controls its body. AMG E53 models feel much the same as standard E-class variants, with perhaps a touch more clarity and firmness to the ride.
The E63 S is a completely different animal; its tough, nuggety ride, road roar and the considerable weight to its controls makes it feel like a far more serious animal. The excitement factor begins the moment you press the start button, the engine blaring into life with an aggressive rev flare and bassy idle. Move away on full lock and the 20-inch tyres skip and chatter as the completely revised and aggressively set front suspension makes its presence felt. Part of the tough ride is down to those 20-inch performance-oriented tyres, but it’s the suspension set-up itself that’s also firm, as even when the adaptive dampers are in their softest setting it remains tight and unyielding. We could go on, but we’ll save that for the specific E63 S review.