E-classy Way To Travel, Destination Paris
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
The plan was simple. Four journalists, a spacious car and a road trip to the Paris Motor Show. A chance to see the latest offerings, drink a little beer, eat lots of food and stock up on duty free on the way back.
Hotel booked, press accreditation gained, just the car to organise. What could be so hard about that?
One of my travelling companions had recently purchased an elderly, yet stylish saloon car that had covered a mile or two. In fact somewhere north of 720,000 miles to be exact. It would be an adventure and would make an interesting tale for you dear reader...
The best laid plans were thwarted by a flat battery and a snapped bonnet release cable, so back to square one.
Fortunately the good folk at Mercedes-Benz stepped into the breach and offered us the very latest E-Class saloon. An economical diesel engine was icing on the cake and would ensure we could almost do the round trip on one tank of fuel, leaving more money for entertainment.
An early start, morning rush hour shenanigans dispatched and by mid afternoon I had rounded up the troops and we had arrived at the channel tunnel.
The French motorways proved to be traffic free and thankfully it was not my turn behind the wheel when we arrived in Paris and had to do battle with the chaotic Peripherique.
The E-Class had earned its stripes, keeping its occupants relaxed and comfortable as one would expect from a prestige German saloon.
Behind the wheel the drivers had benefitted from the very fine adaptive cruise control and assisted steering. Although not a reason to let one’s concentration wander, these systems do help take the strain out of long distance travel.
In addition and despite our need to cover ground quickly, we had averaged nearly 50mpg – an impressive result.
Car parked up in a dimly lit back street, we retired to our cheap hotel for steak frites and beer.
It was a relief to find the car in one piece the next morning and thanks to another early start we avoided the worst of the morning rush hour. The Merc’s satellite navigation warned us of traffic delays and did its best to reroute us.
An enjoyable day was spent wandering the halls and despite the absence of some manufacturers (Ford, Vauxhall/Opel, Volvo, Fiat Group) there was still plenty to excite.
After another joyous Parisian night, the return journey was equally comfortable and thankfully uneventful.
As a long distance companion, the E-Class takes some beating but the car still had more work to do before it was returned to its maker.
A weekend trip to Northumberland allowed me to exploit the car’s adept handling. With ‘Sport’ mode selected, the throttle response improves, the nine-speed auto box holds onto the gears that little bit longer and the suspension firms up.
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Equipment levels in AMG Line Premium + trim are suitably high, as one would expect when spending around £40,000. I would avoid the glass sunroof option as although it bathes the cabin in light, it does leave the rear seats a tad short of headroom.
Other than that, there is little to fault and much to praise. Frugality we have established and a 0 to 60mph time of around seven seconds is plenty quick enough in everyday driving, especially when the automatic gearbox seamlessly ensures the engine remains in its optimum power band.
I have no doubt the high mileage saloon would have made for a very different story, possibly one of breakdowns and other automotive tantrums.
Instead we enjoyed the delights of one of the most impressive saloon cars on sale today and for that I say thank you to Mercedes-Benz.
My hotel for the Geneva Motor Show next March is booked and I am already thinking of eschewing the miserable Ryanair flight for road travel. Can I find a car better suited than the E-Class for the journey? Well perhaps I could change the E for an S...
Mercedes-Benz E220D AMG Line Premium +
Price from £40,060
190PS 1950cc diesel engine
9-speed automatic gearbox
0 to 62mph in 7.3 seconds
Top speed 149mph
Combined economy 58.9mpg
Emissions 127g/km CO2
E-classy Way To Travel, Destination Paris, 12th October 2018, 18:34 PM