There are few brands which possess the art of combining sportiness with outstanding comfort and present it in a package which is the ultimate in workmanship and quality, and on top of that design a body which evokes the panache and pedigree of the legendary star.
Mercedes has succeeded again to do all this in the latest E 43 AMG, and we spent some very memorable days with it, reaching great heights in automotive experience.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Indeed, this AMG 43 takes you into a different world. The world of perfection and sportiness. Already when you see the car, it impresses with excellent proportions, stylish AMG wheels and grille, just the right amount of ornamentation and chrome accents. Its shape evokes exactly what it wants to be, a powerful, well built quality sedan.
All this is masterfully continued in the interior. Wooden inserts in door panels and dashboard alternate with lacquered surfaces, which are mainly found in the centre console. The familiar Mercedes knobs and handles are found, also honed to perfection in touch and functionality over the years.
Essential information for the sporting driver: oil temperature of both engine and gearbox…
The virtual age of electronics has also entered Mercedes, and of course the dashboard instrumentation is now virtual, with dials and telltale instruments very well styled in character with the car and its engineering excellence. The information is very well laid out, and one sees immediately that test drivers, ergonomic and medical specialists as well as engineers have given it considerable thought when it came to presenting all the important information.
So is the driven speed and the chosen gear for instance immediately into your line of sight, presented with larger digital lettering inside the instrument cluster.
The heart of any car is its engine, and this I of course certainly true for this AMG thoroughbred. Just start it up and the slightly higher idling speed when cold puts you totally in the mood. The delicious six cylinder sound of this three liter V6 transports your mind already before you even started moving. Of course, state of the art technology is humming along here. What to think of two superchargers, now further enlarged, which boosts the power of this unit to 295 kW (401 hp) at beautiful sounding 6100 rpm. Further refined software of course helps also here. Plenty of pulling power from lower revs too: not less than 250 Nm is already available from 2500 rpm, and this over a wide rev range to 5000 rpm.
Does this AMG have supercar performance? It comes very close indeed: 0 to 100 is absolved in 4,6 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited of course, to 250 km/h.
The engine breathes state of the art engineering know how. For instance, NANOSLIDE® coating of the cylinder liners is also used in the Formula 1 V-6 hybrid turbo engines from MERCEDES-AMG PETRONAS. Especially tough and therefore wear-resistant, this coating also reduces friction, thereby contributing to higher efficiency. The same applies to the spray-guided multiple injection with up to 200 bar fuel pressure. To top it all off, the AMG power unit can be identified by the engine cover with red aluminium insert and AMG lettering.
A delightful transmission too…
This marvelous engine I coupled to a nine speed 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission, which the Mercedes-AMG developers have tuned specifically for a more dynamic driving experience. They significantly shortened the shift times of the 9-speed transmission by means of a dedicated software application. By skipping gears during downshifts, the 9G-TRONIC enables fast interim bursts of speed. With a defined ignition intervention, the double-declutching function allows more spirited and faster gear changes in the drive modes “Sport”, “Sport Plus” and “Manual”.
“Manual” mode can be selected using a specific button in the centre console, with the symbol “M” and two gears. Indeed, don’t move your elbows or hands too enthusiastically around in the neighborhood of the centre console, as you may push accidently this button. You find yourselves then suddenly in this manual mode, and you can now only change gears using the standard paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Moreover, the transmission stays in the selected gear and does not automatically shift up when the engine speed reaches the limiter. Be warned! Of course, everything turns back to normal when you push this button again…
AMG Performance 4MATIC for (very) spirited handling
Electronics also have found their way into suspension years ago. In this AMG the engineers have taken this to an art. Because not only the way the gearbox and engine perform is influenced by the drive modes, this goes too for the suspension. But already the basic setting for the standard-specification AMG Performance 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive in the E 43 4MATIC Saloon is well honed and balanced. Indeed, there is a rear-biased torque split of 31 percent on the front axle and 69 percent on the rear axle built in. This configuration provides for enhanced driving dynamics and higher lateral acceleration on the road as well as improved traction when accelerating.
In order to adjust and fine tune the balance of the torque split for each model, the Mercedes engineers have the single-stage transfer case of the four-wheel drive system flange-mounted to the 9G‑TRONIC as a separate system. So it is actually an add-on solution which allows total flexibility. Of course, the new system has reduced friction and also a lower weight. Its compact design additionally means that it does not entail any space restrictions for passengers or luggage.
Not less than five dynamic modes…
Indeed, with the five DYNAMIC SELECT drive modes “Eco”, “Comfort”, “Sport”, “Sport Plus” and “Individual”, the driver can tailor the characteristics of the E 43 4MATIC models to suit personal preferences. The available range extends from efficient and comfortable to very sporty. As we said, this modifies key parameters, such as the response of the engine, transmission, suspension and steering.
The DYNAMIC SELECT “Sport” and “Sport Plus” drive modes trigger for instance a more agile accelerator pedal characteristic curve with direct set-up and gearshifts with shorter shift times and double-declutching function on downshifts. The increased idling speed in “Sport Plus” mode additionally enables the vehicle to move off particularly quickly while ensuring faster acceleration from rest.
But then comes the suspension. The multi-chamber air suspension system with a sporty spring/damper set-up and continuously variable damping gives you excellent vehicle dynamics. A harder spring rate, for example when cornering and braking, effectively reduces body roll. The elastokinematics of both axles have been designed to be more rigid in general. All these measures improve agility, and boost the dynamics.
The damping at each wheel is automatically adjusted to suit the current driving situation and the condition of the road. This is done rapidly and precisely, using two separate valves for the rebound and compression forces in the dampers. The damping characteristics can also be preselected in three modes, “Comfort”, “Sport” and “Sport Plus”, allowing a wider spread between excellent long-distance comfort and sporty driving dynamics. We are more comfort oriented, so we used the “Comfort” setting most of the time, but let it be said, that the suspension adjusts in a split second when you decide to put your foot down or tackle that upcoming corner with verve.
Thanks to pneumatic self-levelling at the front and rear axle, the E 43 4MATIC maintains a constant ride height regardless of the vehicle load. To increase ground clearance, for example to negotiate steep entrances into underground car parks or on ramps, the vehicle level can be raised at the touch of a button when the engine is running, either when stationary or on the move. This is good for your expensive AMG alloy wheels! Of course, the level is lowered automatically when driving at higher speeds…
A speed–sensitive sports steering
The electromechanical speed-sensitive sports steering features – noblesse oblige – a variable ratio on the E 43 4MATIC Saloon (also the Estate version of course). It also has a precise, highly authentic feedback. Steering power assistance is available in a choice of two modes – “Comfort” or “Sport”. The relevant characteristics are automatically activated depending on the selected DYNAMIC SELECT transmission mode or can be personalised in “Individual” mode. Manual torque is increased in “Sport” mode, providing more feedback on driving conditions.
The Burmeister sound system is of course state of the art…
And a compound braking system
The E 43 4MATIC comes with vented compound brake discs. They are also cross-drilled and measure 360 x 36 mm with 4-piston fixed callipers and AMG lettering at the front, while 360 x 26 mm cross-drilled and vented discs with single-piston floating calipers being fitted at the rear.
Needless to say that superb stopping power is the result…
You will always have a good eye in this Mercedes…
A formidable Mercedes E Class, achieving masterfully the absolute heights of automotive pleasure which a saloon car can possibly offer. All presented in a timelessly styled, superbly finished and quality built body, with last but not least a driveline and engine which is honed to absolute perfection. Superlatives are indeed the only way to describe it all. With its five driving modes, this AMG gem will suit and fit you like a glove, and you can of course also choose your very own individual setting. The beauty is also, that it is a six cylinder three liter. It doesn’t take much imagination to hear, when you rev it up, the typical Mercedes six cylinder staccato of the 300 SL, the 300 S Panamericana or Le Mans winner. Only you are catapulted – literally – in the electronic age a good six decades later…
Hans Knol ten Bensel