- Sam Moses
For now, the four-cylinder E300 is the only E-Class sedan. It’s no hot rod, but it is responsive, with its 273 pound-feet of torque coming on down low at 1300 rpm, giving good early acceleration. Its paddle-shifting 9-speed transmission helps keep it in the perfect spot of the powerband.
The 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system splits power front to rear at 45:55.
The standard suspension uses multi-links and adaptive dampers, and comes in base (firm) and sport (firmer) versions. A sport-tune steel suspension has a mildly firm setup, but the air suspension and driving modes give the E-Class breathtaking versatility. It can cruise with lots of suspension travel, slow and smooth shifts and light-touch steering in Comfort mode, or approach AMG levels of heft and stiffness when set in Sport+ mode.
The top suspension is called Air Body Control, and, coupled with the driving modes, gives the E300 vast versatility, so we recommend those options, along with 4MATIC all-wheel drive. They improve the car so much, we think they warrant the cost.
The air suspension system uses springs with two chambers per front strut and two chambers per rear strut; the chambers inflate and deflate at lightning speed based on sensor readings from the road. It lowers the ride height on the freeway for better aerodynamics and fuel mileage, and can raise it when more ground clearance is needed.
The modes are Comfort, Economy, Sport and Sport +. Comfort offers languid steering and shifting, and lengthy suspension travel. We often preferred Sport mode, which brings the best compromise of a good ride and quickness from the throttle, steering and transmission.