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For the first time, the E-Class adopts the Sport and Luxury themes the C-Class has had for years--you can opt for the Luxury's three-bar grille, or the Sport's plate-sized star logo embedded in a twin-louver grille, and its AMG-style trim. Bigger air intakes are faired in below on either version, but almost all the worry lines have been abraded from the front end. It's pretty and elegant, the way all E-Class cars used to be, before the detour into goggle-eye lamps.
Further back, the E-Class sedan also unloads its flared, Ponton-like rear fenders, going for a sleeker look with lower side trim that elongates the car--the preferred shortcut to "elegant." The treatment applies nicely to Coupe models, which have a graceful roofline that visually lowers the car, but it doesn't work nearly as well in Cabriolet models, where we tended to think that with the roof up the more pert roofline stretches the proportions oddly upward. Power the top down and the E Cabrio fits gracefully back in, though.
We'll start with the gentler manners of the standard E350. At times, it can feel distantly related to the hot E63 AMG, but it's the E-Class most drivers will order and own. It's powered by a combination of the Mercedes 3.5-liter V-6 and seven-speed automatic with paddle controls. The direct-injected V-6 spins out 302 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, with smooth power delivery and a relatively wide powerband. Zero to 60 mph times are well under 7 seconds, and top speed's 130 mph.
These models come standard with a seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shift controls. They're not the most responsive automatics we've driven, better than some of the six-speeds in the luxury world, but not quite to the smooth par set by the eight-speed automatic in many other luxury models.
All E-Class cars now have electric power steering, too. The "Direct Steer" system adapts both the quickness and the weight of the steering across its dynamic range. In practice, it's given engineers a way to beef up the E-Class, and to make it feel more sporty, by adding some heft to the steering feel. There's more razor-sharp quickness with, say, the Lexus GS F-Sport's available rear-steer system, but the E-Class' system feels better than most.
*This vehicle is Certified Pre-Owned and is eligible for our third party warranty program.