The Mercedes-Benz E-Class was well into its fourth generation by 2012 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. Available as a four-door sedan, estate wagon, convertible or two-door coupe, it received a complete makeover in 2011 and was offered with a BlueTEC diesel option.
Arguably the most visually appealing model was the new coupe, which replaced the CLK 350. Fr
om its arrowhead front end to a back deck evocative of some Mercedes models of the 1950s, this one was – and is – a knockout.
That said, the market for upscale two-door coupes in Canada has never been huge. Most buyers opt for a four-door sedan configuration as 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 2012 E-Class sedan and coupe were offered in Canada in two variants, E350 and E550, plus the high-performance AMG E 63 version.
One of the more intriguing features Mercedes offered is the Attention Assist system, which monitors the driver, taking note of driving habits and evaluating them to warn at the onset of fatigue or drowsiness. Unlike Volvo’s system, which used a small camera, Mercedes’ system keeps an eye on the driver via a computer. A cute little coffee cup graphic on the instrument cluster lights up to let the driver know they’re being observed.
This is one of a myriad of high-tech features found on the E-Class.
A few other noteworthy goodies:
- a dynamic handling package that, at the press of a dash-mounted button, allows the driver to access comfort or sport settings
- an adaptive cruise control that maintains a certain distance from the vehicle in front of you, and
- high-beam headlights that automatically adjust according to the prevailing driving conditions.
You can also find an optional navigation package, upgraded leather and a 450-watt sound system. The AMG version includes 18-inch alloy wheels, bigger tires, upgraded brakes, different seats, and various interior bits and pieces. Not to mention a considerably higher price tag.
There’s one safety recall to report from Transport Canada and it concerns the power steering system. Apparently, the high-pressure line can leak, cause the pump to run dry and result in loss of steering and ensuing chaos. This glitch also applied to the Mercedes C-Class of the same year.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the United States, meanwhile, has 17 technical service bulletins on file. These range 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 2012 E-Class has its weak points – particularly in the electrical system – Consumer Reports still 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 to Consumer Reports 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 this organization and an “among the best” rating for overall performance and design.
These days, you can expect to pay from $20,000 for an E350 sedan, around $25,000 to $30,000 for the Cabriolet, and right up to the $40,000 neighbourhood for a loaded E550. The coupe seems to be valued at $1,000 to $2,000 less than the sedan. Good luck finding an AMG model.
2012 Mercedes E-Class
Original base price: $57,900 to $102,100
Engine: 3.5-litre V6, 3.0-litre diesel and 5.5-litre V8
Transmission: seven-speed automatic with manual shift mode
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 7.0 to 14.4 (combined)
Alternatives: Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Infiniti M45, Lexus GS, Jaguar XF, Porsche Panamera, Cadillac CTS
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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