The iconic Mercedes-Benz (W210) E-Class is one for the record books. Why?

Sanjay · Aug 22, 2020 11:00 AM

The iconic Mercedes-Benz (W210) E-Class is one for the record books. Why? 01

Think quintessential German sedans and your minds will most probably conjure images of big and roomy cars like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class (W210).

The iconic Mercedes-Benz (W210) E-Class is one for the record books. Why? 02

A fair few of you will recall one exactly like this. Probably your rich uncle had one. In my case, the dentist always had a silver example outside his clinic. 

The iconic Mercedes-Benz (W210) E-Class is one for the record books. Why? 01

Sorry Takumi, it just wasn't meant to be...

Anime aficionados will also recall a certain Papa driving one...

Rose-tinted glasses aside, the W210 really did push the carmaker's envelope in terms luxury, looks and comfort. 

A short history lesson

The iconic Mercedes-Benz (W210) E-Class is one for the record books. Why? 02

Introduced in June 1995, the W210 came in three flavours: the base Classic, mid-range Elegance and top-spec Avantgarde. The Elegance got alloy wheels, wooden interior trim for that '90s chic and air-conditioning vents for rear passengers. 

The iconic Mercedes-Benz (W210) E-Class is one for the record books. Why? 03

The Avantgarde trim added on to that with a unique, five-slat grille design and xenon headlights. It had a more imposing stance too, thanks to its lowered ride height, retuned chassis and wide tyres hugging 16-inch five-spoke wheels.

The iconic Mercedes-Benz (W210) E-Class is one for the record books. Why? 04

Then, having acquired AMG a few years prior (who were busy tuning Galants at one time), Mercedes allowed the boys and girls at Affalterbach to fettle with the sedan.

Thanks to that, we got the E50 AMG in 1997 which came equipped with a stonkin' 347 PS V8, among other necessary improvements.

The iconic Mercedes-Benz (W210) E-Class is one for the record books. Why? 05

That model effectively cemented Der Katherdral (a nickname given to this series due to its enormous size) as one of the most iconic Mercedes' ever.

A thoroughbred German icon

The iconic Mercedes-Benz (W210) E-Class is one for the record books. Why? 06

When the W210 burst into the scene, the term 'daring design' was undoubtedly bandied around. Out went rectangular headlights and rounded curves took the place of squared arches.

The iconic Mercedes-Benz (W210) E-Class is one for the record books. Why? 07

The design update was generally well-received among experts and the public - as its Red Dot Design award shows for the former and massive sales numbers for the latter.

The iconic Mercedes-Benz (W210) E-Class is one for the record books. Why? 08

The W210 was a trailblazer in its own right, with over 30 novel design touches and technical innovations. Among them were the traction control system, outside temperature monitor and bi-xenon headlights that followed steering input.

The iconic Mercedes-Benz (W210) E-Class is one for the record books. Why? 09

Wind tunnel test excludes boats

Its award-winning design also had a low drag coefficient of 0.27, which makes it one of the earliest cars to note the importance of design in helping fuel economy.

The iconic Mercedes-Benz (W210) E-Class is one for the record books. Why? 10

As people couldn't get enough of it, Mercedes later developed a wagon version for the North American and European markets.

Continuous improvements

The iconic Mercedes-Benz (W210) E-Class is one for the record books. Why? 11

Subsequent improvements in the W210's lifecycle include a multi-info display and updated infotainment system - now with steering wheel controls!

The iconic Mercedes-Benz (W210) E-Class is one for the record books. Why? 12

In addition, 'Touch Shift' was introduced in 2000, making semi-manual mode possible on its five-speed automatic. This system introduced +/- gate positions, replacing the previous gated shifter.

The iconic Mercedes-Benz (W210) E-Class is one for the record books. Why? 13

The updated W210 also came with seatbelt pretensioners, automatic wipers and Parktronic (PTS) parking assistant - definitely bragging rights in its time.

The culmination of the W210

The iconic Mercedes-Benz (W210) E-Class is one for the record books. Why? 14

The W210 was launched with no less than eight engines - five petrol and three diesel options. Besides the usual four- and six-cylinder units, hot AMG versions also got V8s.

Then there was the legendary OM 602 2.9-liter, five-cylinder turbodiesel that was employed in the E290 too.

The iconic Mercedes-Benz (W210) E-Class is one for the record books. Why? 15

Very tasty.

The pinnacle of the W210 however is the E55 AMG. Launched in 1998 to go toe-to-toe against the BMW M5, it made 354 PS from its 5.5-litre V8, good enough for a century sprint time of just five seconds.

Not a bad way to cap off an iconic model.

What's next after 25 years?

The iconic Mercedes-Benz (W210) E-Class is one for the record books. Why? 16

By the time the W211 dawned upon us, 1,374,199 sedans and 279,238 wagons had found new homes. 

Monumental numbers that certainly befits the three-pointed star's innovative spirit - time will tell if the newer breed can live up to what the E-Class once was.

Sanjay

Senior Writer

With humble beginnings collecting diecast models and spending hours virtually tuning dream cars on the computer, his love of cars has delightfully transformed into a career. Sanjay enjoys how the same passion for cars transcends boundaries and brings people together.

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