Mercedes-Benz is introducing an extensively equipped and competitively priced special edition of the E-Class Saloon exclusively for the corporate sector.
The E-Class Executive ensures time spent on the road is relaxing, productive and above all safe and offers exceptional value at £28,384 on-the-road. That's £677 less than the E220 CDI Classic on which it is based, yet its enhanced equipment specification is worth an additional £2,543 – representing a saving of £3,220 including VAT over the standard car.
What's more, the particularly strong residual values of the E-Class and low service and maintenance figures mean that the Executive's overall monthly costs over three years/20,000 miles per annum are less than those of both the BMW 520d SE and the Audi A6 TDI TDV SE.* Its specially tailored package has been selected, after careful consultation with corporate customers, to support a busy professional life without raising benefit-in-kind tax liability.
Building on the already impressive foundations of the standard E-Class saloon, it adds telephone pre-wiring which means that with the addition of a suitable cradle, a mobile can be controlled using the ergonomic multi-function steering wheel. There's also a six-disc CD changer with MP3 compatibility which should prove invaluable on long motorway journeys.
The exquisite, understated styling of the E-Class is set off by a choice of three metallic colours – Iridium silver, Obsidian black, or the limited edition Palladium silver – as well as a style of 16 inch seven-spoke alloy wheels unique to this car, ensuring an air of exclusivity in the office car park.
Moving inside, chrome door sills with Mercedes-Benz lettering provide an added touch of style to an interior whose finish and quality of materials is designed to cosset and create a strong sense of well-being. The effect is enhanced by seats trimmed in black Artico – the leather-like material you would be hard pushed to distinguish from the real thing – and floor mats.
Business users are also bound to appreciate the comfort enhancing driver's lumbar support, two zone climate control and front seats electronically adjustable for height and backrest angle. The multi-function steering wheel means the driver's focus can remain firmly on the road.
The E-Class Executive is powered by an advanced 2.2-litre four cylinder turbocharged diesel engine developing 170 hp at 3,800 rpm and a useful 400 Nm of torque at just 2000 rpm. It's characterised by a strong blend of good performance and economy, with 62 mph coming up in 8.4 sec, a top speed of 141 mph and a combined 44.8 mpg (42.2 in optional automatic guise) fuel consumption.
Key features of the engine include balancer shafts for added refinement, improved piston and cylinder head cooling for a reduced compression ratio and improved turbocharger responsiveness at low engine speeds. It is mated to a six-speed manual transmission, while a five-speed automatic transmission with Tipfunction and Speedtronic cruise control is available as an option (£1480).
The E-Class is an eminently safe place in which to be and no other model in this segment can match its range of safety innovations. As well as dual stage front airbags and belt force limiters, there are front sidebags and windowbags and outer rear seat pre-tensioners. Neck-Pro head restraints help to reduce whiplash injuries.
PRE-SAFE®, first pioneered in the S-Class, recognises potentially dangerous situations, its ‘reflexes' preparing occupants and the car for a potential accident as a precaution, thus gaining vital seconds. So if braking reaches a critical level, or a skid appears to be imminent based on signals from the standard Electronic Stability Program (ESP®), the system will automatically tension the front seatbelts and start to close the windows.
Adaptive Brakes encompass a number of safety and convenience features in addition to Brake Assist and a Hill Holder function. If you were to suddenly lift your foot from the accelerator, for example, brake line pressure is automatically increased to bring the brake pads into light contact with the discs so they are ready to bite immediately. The system also recognises wet conditions through prolonged use of wipers and automatically applies the brakes very gently at regular intervals to clear moisture from the discs.
There's also the luxury of a Hold feature which comes into its own in slow moving queues of traffic. If you briefly press the brake pedal a little further once the car has been brought to a halt, the brakes then hold the car in place irrespective of whether you lift your foot off the pedal.
And finally, severe braking will bring flashing brake lights into operation which have been demonstrated to elicit faster reactions in drivers following behind.
An agile, more satisfying driving experience is provided by the E-Class's Direct Control package. This encompasses a number of chassis enhancements and includes a 10 per cent more direct steering ratio for instance, which means the car responds more readily while retaining the assured handling and ride stability that contributes to relaxed long distance cruising. More rigid spring link bearings in the four link front suspension more than double lateral rigidity, enhancing the E-Class's neutral cornering characteristics. And the gearshift linkage is designed for a faster, more positive shift action.
As well as an automatic gearbox, other options include an automatically dimming rear view and driver's mirror (£225); electrically adjustable folding and heated door mirrors (£230); heated front seats (£320); the Parktronic audible/visual front and rear parking system to avoid bumps and scrapes (£605); and 1/3:2/3 folding rear seats for greater loading flexibility (£340).