- Winner of the prestigious “Red Dot” design prize
- Excellent drag coefficient of 0.271
- First diesel engine to feature direct injection
- Special protection versions in the mid-size model series
When the new E-Class of the 210 series made its debut in June 1995, the saloon saw the world through very different eyes: for the first time a Mercedes-Benz E-Class had a striking front end featuring four elliptical headlamps. The coupe-like design of the rear end also caused quite a stir. These two design elements, a distinct contrast to the relatively stringent lines of the 124 series, were very well received by experts and public alike. Straightaway the W 210 was awarded the renowned “Red Dot” design prize. But it was not only its distinctive shape that set the new E-Class apart. It incorporated more than 30 technical innovations. Another remarkable feature was its sensationally low drag coefficient of 0.27.
The organisation of the appointments was also entirely new: from the 202 series C-Class the planners adopted the concept of different design and equipment lines. There were three variants to chose from: CLASSIC, ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE. Compared with the basic version, CLASSIC, distinguished by its deliberately low-key appearance, the ELEGANCE variant offered a number of additional items for the interior and exterior. Ten-hole light-alloy wheels and chrome trim on the door handles, bumpers and the side rub strips.The AVANTGARDE line was the technically advanced model variant, noticeably different from the other two versions in its looks. The distinctive radiator grille, showing five chrome bars and louvres painted in high-gloss black, stood out the sharpest. Another difference concerned the B-pillar trim, which featured a honeycomb foil in the colour of the vehicle. The chrome trim of the door handles, bumpers and rub strips corresponded to the ELEGANCE variant.
But AVANTGARDE vehicles were also equipped with some additional technical equipment: they were lower-slung as standard and came with a sports suspension and wide-base tyres on 16-inch five-hole light-alloy wheels. The standard equipment also included new xenon headlamps featuring gas-discharge lamps and dynamic headlamp range control, available as an optional extra for the other variants. For customers who set store by a highly dynamic appearance, an AMG version was offered in addition to the three design and equipment lines.
All variants shared a very ample range of standard equipment, including two dozen extras not available, or available only as optional extras, in the previous E-Class. This included the Electronic Traction System (ETS), an electronic drive authorisation system, front and rear power windows, outside temperature display, dust filter, and a third brake light on the parcel shelf. In the area of vehicle safety, too, the new E-Class was state-of-the-art. Owing to an optimised body structure with large deformation zones and even more effective restraint systems in the interior, the 210 series saloons were the safest automobiles in their class in terms of overall design.
Mercedes-Benz was the first car manufacturer worldwide to fit belt force limiters as standard in the E-Class. The side impact protection was further improved through the inclusion of a newly developed sidebag. The many other innovative systems premiered in the E-Class included a rain sensor for the windscreen wipers, an air quality sensor for the automatic climate control, and the ultrasonic parking aid Parktronic (PTS).
The model range of the E-Class comprised eight initial models. Three of them had diesel engines: the E 220 Diesel (70 KW/95 hp), E 290 Turbodiesel (95 kW/129 hp) and E 300 Diesel (100 kW/136 hp). Equipped with petrol engines were the E 200 (100 kW/136 hp), E 230 (110 kW/150 hp), E 280 (142 kW/193 hp), E 320 (162 kW/220 hp) and E 420 (205 kW/279 hp). A fourth compression-ignition variant, the E 250 Diesel, was produced solely for export to Italy. It was powered by the proven five-cylinder engine with four-valve-per-cylinder technology. The engine range – in-line engines with four, five and six cylinders and a V8 – was essentially made up of familiar power plants which had already proved themselves in the 124 and 202 series and were now used in more or less modified versions in the W 210.
Among the diesel engines, the 2.9-litre in-line five-cylinder OM 602 DE 29 LA was a genuinely new development: a direct-injection diesel engine, equipped also with turbocharger and intercooler – a first for a Mercedes-Benz car. Compared with the 3-litre naturally aspirated engine, which had almost the same displacement but featured prechamber injection, the newly developed engine with conventional two-valve-per-cylinder technology was distinguished by distinctly higher torque and lower fuel consumption. The exhaust gas turbocharger combined with intercooler delivered exceptionally high torque, available already at an engine speed of 2000 rpm, dispensing with a high rated output. The new engine was the first step taken by Mercedes-Benz to introduce direction-injection passenger car diesel engines for comfort-minded customers.Higher torque was also the objective of the modifications made to the petrol engines for use in series 210. These included changes to combustion chamber geometry (E 200), increases in displacement (E 230) and modifications to the injection system (E 200 and E 420). The injection system of the 4.2-litre V8 was changed to HFM engine management, in which the actual volume of fresh air was very precisely determined with the aid of hot-film air flow measurement. In addition, the control functions for the injection, ignition and the electronic accelerator were now combined in a Bosch Motronic 1.0 control unit. This also permitted electronic control of the new automatic transmission, with which the E 420 had been equipped since the start of series production, to be integrated into the engine management system.
Six months after the market launch of the E-Class a particularly sporty version was added to the sales range. The E 50 AMG had a 255 kW (347 hp) 5-litre V8 engine developed by AMG from the tried-and-tested 4.2-litre power plant. The car had comprehensive sports features including sports suspension, light-alloy wheels with wide-base tyres, and AMG bodystyling. The E 50 AMG, a legitimate successor to the E 500 of the 124 series, was fitted from the start of series production, just like the E 420, exclusively with the new electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission that was used simultaneously in the eight- and twelve-cylinder models of the S-Class and SL series.
In June 1996 the new electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission also replaced the older hydraulically controlled five-speed automatic transmission of the four- and five-cylinder models. The new transmission generation cut fuel consumption, enhanced comfort, further improved reliability and longevity and, finally, reduced maintenance costs. At the same time, the 2-litre four-cylinder engine was made smoother by the introduction of an intake camshaft that could be adjusted during operation.