It takes time for a manufacturer to study the suitability of a car, get a prototype made, test it and roll it off the production line. It was 2014 when Mercedes-Benz, for the first time, showed real intent to bring another long wheelbase sedan to India other than the S-Class. Three years down the line, those ideas have taken shape. Yes, the new E-Class is coming to India, and this time, India's most popular mid-size luxury sedan is going to set exceptional standards for luxury in its segment.
Why a long wheelbase car for India?
It's well-known that the Indian market holds the rear seat comfort of luxury sedans in high regard. From bureaucrats to politicians, entrepreneurs to celebrities, and even MNC high-flyers, the who's who of India prefer to sit at the rear of their cars. That's the reason why a long wheelbase car makes sense for the Indian market. Not only does such a car offer acres of rear legroom, but it also has a larger-than-life aura.
Why the E-Class L?
Besides the S-Class, which sits at the top rung of the Mercedes-Benz sedan ladder, the company has the E-Class L and the C-Class L in its portfolio exclusively for the Chinese market.
Ever since Mercedes-Benz launched the new S-Class in India, the price gap between its flagship sedan and the E-Class has grown. The E-Class L, then, can very well bridge the massive price gap between the two cars. Furthermore, its long wheelbase will add immense value to the package, which, no other car in this segment offers.
How long is the LWB E-Class?
The E-Class L in China measures 5065mm, which is almost 181mm shorter than the S-Class we get in India. However, what makes the E-Class L exceptional is its wheelbase, which is only 86mm shorter in comparison to the flagship! For India, the German luxury carmaker will keep the underpinnings intact, and it'll just be a LHD to RHD swap.Compared to the latest E-Class, which has already grown, the E-Class L’s wheelbase is 140mm longer, which again speaks volumes about the room inside the cabin.
With the new E-Class L in India, Mercedes-Benz will look to offer something out of the ordinary without going overboard on the price chart. At the same time, the S-Class will hold its ground, being the wider, roomier and the more equipped of the two, justifying its higher sticker price and flagship status.
What about the engine options?
A diesel engine would have been the default choice for a car like the E-Class L in India if the launch had happened a couple of years ago. However, considering the current anti-diesel market sentiment, Mercedes-Benz is likely to offer the E-Class L in both petrol and diesel iterations. The current engine line-up consists of a 2.0-litre petrol, a 2.1-litre diesel and a 3.0-litre V6 diesel. Globally, the new E-Class gets an entirely new 2.0-litre turbodiesel that not only tops the 2.1-litre on performance but is also more efficient. However, for the E-Class L, we think the petrol motor and the 3.0-litre diesel could be the ideal choice at launch.
Will it be too costly?
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class range currently starts at Rs 50 lakh in India and goes up to Rs 67 lakh for the top-of-the-line diesel E 350 d. Since Mercedes-Benz is skipping the standard wheelbase E-Class for India, which could have seen the prices head north by a few lakh rupees for each variant, the long wheelbase E-Class will see the sticker value climb up anywhere between Rs 7 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.
What about competition?
As far as cabin space is concerned, the E-Class L will be the flag bearer of the mid-size luxury segment in India, which includes cars like the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and Volvo S90. However, the stretched E-Class will certainly command a premium over regular sedans. While that may affect the model's India sales, it'll also give it an edge over competitors.
On the whole, with its unusually long wheelbase, the E-Class L does have the potential to shake India's mid-size luxury segment like never before. Mercedes-Benz is playing a big gamble with its most loved nameplate and we're glad it's up for the challenge to disrupt the segment. However, only time will tell whether it'll come out with flying colours or will face the music in a segment it reigned over with the bygone E-s.
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