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Mercedes-Benz E 320CDI Elegance

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      01.06.2006 14:28
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      Pound for pound,the best around.

      Rolling, rolling, rolling, keep those wagons rolling, rawhide!

      Been a while you know, since I typed a review of any motor, more into soap these days my close friends will be pleased to hear. However, my blood is fully synthetic and my super charged ego can not help but to try and release the pent up tension stored since my enthusiasm to scribe a car review faded like Rooney’s Starting chance in the first stage of the world cup.

      Why the E320 CDI Elegance 4dr Saloon I hear you ask, or not as the case may be?

      I have had 4 now, 2 Elegance and 2 Avantgarde and each one I have had for over 10,000 miles and 3-4 months, so I guess that qualifies me in a small way to write about this beauty and the beast automobile.

      Often called the “Taxi” due to the amount of these cars seen on the roads of Germany and other European cities, very distinctive in its long, elegant style and commanding respect from the eye of any motor enthusiast. Her body contours in a cruise ship style rather than sleekness and the word limousine, although a small one, is often used to define the cars appearance. Her twin round headlamps were the first characteristic you would notice when they gave the 210 chassis a facelift to incorporate the ever changing style and modernisation hitting the market at a rate of knots a naval warship would be proud of. The three pronged star dominates the bonnet and two offset sharp lines enhance the shape that stretches to the angled windscreen with the dark tint joust above the eye line. Chrome is in abundance on the exterior of this car, the grille, handles, bumper and body benefit from strips and flashes, catching the light at every angle and ensuring that the passer-by has his head turned away from the usual run of the mill production cars.

      With a boot space that is big enough to accommodate two sets of golf clubs, this is a mans car. Not for the 5ft 3” wannabe aggressive driver, but the man with time to spare, jokes to share and golf balls to hit all day long. The Elegance is a drivers car and built ergonomically to that belief, she lives as a slave to the timeless country drives and purrs in traffic jams as if enjoying the rest. The drivers seat snugs around your physique and gives a little to accommodate for that middle-aged spread, encompassing you like a housewives hug as comfortable as your favourite armchair by the fire, the seat for me is by far the most comfortable of any drivers chair I have placed my bottom on. To the right of you, the memory seats can be altered by depressing the button, 1, 2 or 3 and watching as the seat moves, the steering wheel moves and the mirrors all adjust to your last recognised position. Clicking through the onboard computer and checking your fuel distance, radio station and any faults etc, turn the key, enter your destination on the Cockpit navigation Display system COMAND for short, and buckle up your seat belt, you are off.

      There is ample foot room to play with and the automatic cruise control takes away the need to rest your weight on your heel, which most taxi drivers will tell you can cause an ache after a few hours of stop start driving, so comfort is not an issue. Nor is visibility with its bulbous fisheye like windscreen which is like having a conservatory to look out of. With automatic rain detecting windscreen wipers, you don’t even need to move your hand when the usual British summer kicks in. side, drivers and window airbags ensure that the only thing you will be hitting in an accident is the idiot who hit you. Event the seatbelt has a special function where a gas canister releases a charge to avoid injuries to the ribs in a sudden stop accident.

      The drive of this motor is exceptional. Even though powered by the 3.2 litre V6 diesel engine, this car will leave a 2.5 V6 petrol car screaming tears at you to slow down. Bullet is an understatement to describe the acceleration which can get me from 0-60 in around about 7 seconds which does not really agree with test figures, but then I love to floor the pedal and feel the rush. She makes a mockery of her size when let lose of twisty, winding roads and my constant bombardment of B roads and shortcuts through the rush hour traffic over a 30 mile stretch covering three counties is an absolute dream. The braking system which incorporates ABS, ESP and ASSYST, all advanced computerised braking techniques, means that you can stop before you get there. I am so pleased it is a saloon rather than a hatch as when some idiot goes into the back of me as they can’t stop in half the distance I can, it will serve me well in the protection stakes.

      Road holding, road handling and streetwise, this car excels and shows why Merc are market leaders in their filed. They have pioneered almost all the safety features you see on a car these days and spend a million quid every day ensuring their cars meet and beat every safety record they can find.

      Economy is somewhat surprising with an average 35 MPG based on 38MPH average speed, and that is me basing my mileage over 10,000 miles on 4 different cars so ignore government figures etc, these are true numbers from heavy footed wannabe rally driver.

      Servicing can be as far apart as 20,000 miles and would cost an average £350 less for an A service and more for a B service. Tyres are £120 + each and last the same as normal tyres depending on the driver and the style. Insurance is around £400 for a 36 year old with 5 years no claims and some insurance companies would insist you have a tracker fitted which comes to about £750 including lifetime subscription.

      So what is bad about the car?

      Earlier 211 models had the seat offset slightly to the left and this resulted in back ache for a few people, especially the elderly. They had to recall all the cars for electrical faults and also to refill the door seals and change the rusting wheel bolts made with inferior chrome which oxidised within months of hitting the road. The doors are quite wide and in multi-storey car parks you struggle to not only fit into a space but get in or out easily. Legroom in the back is okay, but not quite enough to accommodate a burly six footer for too long. Avantgarde version is a bit bumpy and loses the glide you get due to the elegance having a softer suspension.

      Not really that many bad points.

      One of these girls will set you back about £40,000 new and a 3 year old one about £27500 assuming average mileage and using a retail price list as a guideline.

      Overall, after over a year of driving the E320 CDI I loved the car and cant fault it as a big old beast, in a beauty stereotype way. I now drive the ML320 CDI which has the same engine and boy is that engine a prize winner! You can feel the build quality when you get in this car and even a day circling the M25 would not dampen your spirits with the comfort and luxury this car affords you. Its 85 litre tank ensures a 600 mile gap between petrol pumps and allowing even the longest trips to be made with ease. I love this car, really, really love it and would own one tomorrow if given the chance.

      The E class is a great car and the 320CDI, her flagship.

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