Mercedes-Benz currently builds almost as many models off the basic E-class platform as General Mills has flavors of Cheerios. Whole grains processed into toroid toddler kibble can be had in 15 varieties at last count. Count up the sedan, wagon, cabriolet, and coupe bodies; tally engines with four-, six-, and eight cylinders; and then stir in high-performance AMG editions, and we count 14 E-class models for 2015 without even stretching to include the five CLS-badged four-door “coupes” on this chassis.
For this test, we have the newest flavor of Stuttgart’s midrange sedan, the E400 4MATIC. Consider it the Cheerios + Ancient Grains edition. Propelled by a more environmentally friendly twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6, this 329-hp E400 replaces the E550 as the top non-AMG sedan and wagon for 2015. The E550 with its 402-hp V-8 continues in the coupe and cabriolet, where this new turbo six instead replaces last year’s base engine, the naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6 (it continues in E350 sedans and wagons). Performance gluttons can still opt for a stonking E63 AMG sedan with up to 577 horsepower, if they really must have a V-8 in this body style and have lines of credit to match its bulging power curve.
Giving up two pistons and 73 horsepower while the base price swells to $65,775 from the $62,325 2014 E550 4MATIC does not, on its surface, make this look like a change targeted to please the driving enthusiast or the value seeker. It does please regulatory agencies on both sides of the Atlantic, though, and EPA ratings on 4MATIC sedans improve from the E550’s 18/24 mpg city/highway to 20/28 on the new E400. Our observed fuel economy of 22 mpg bested our test of the V-8 version by 2 mpg, or 10 percent.
The predictable degradation in performance showed up at the track with a zero-to-60-mph time of 5.0 seconds, exactly a half-second slower than our E550 test. The quarter-mile in 13.6 at 104 mph is 0.6 second and 7 mph slower than before. The gap is smaller, 0.2 second, in our 30-to-50 and 50-to-70-mph passing tests. Mind you, we called out the accelerative performance of last year’s V-8 model as “more than ample.” Five-flat to 60 mph isn’t slow. But neither does it shine against competitors like the Cadillac CTS Vsport. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by Michael Simari