Mercedes-Benz will jack up the price of its E-Class mid-size sedan when the W213 model arrives later this year, adding more than $10,000 to the cost of entry and making its rivals from BMW and Audi look more affordable.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class will start from $89,990 for the base E200 with a 135kW/300Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, $92,900 for the E220d with a 143kW/400Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, and jumps to $134,900 for the E350d with a 190kW/600Nm 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo diesel.
Benz says a higher level of standard equipment is responsible for the increases. By contrast, prices of the current C-Class range went down compared to the car it replaced, even though formerly optional extras were added as standard.
“Basically we’ve put in a whole lot of kit,” said Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman David McCarthy. “We decided to make the things customers want standard, along with the nine-speed [gearbox], because that’s what people order.”
The new E-Class is more feature-heavy than the flagship S-Class. McCarthy says the E-Class is not only the most advanced car in the Benz fleet, it is the market-leader for technology.
Standard gear in E-Class includes extensive safety equipment, widescreen digital instruments, 360-degree cameras, wireless device charging, steering wheel touch controls, electric seats with memory, and LED lighting. It is also lighter and more fuel efficient than the last E-Class, and more spacious inside.
The start price of E-Class is now well above the BMW 520i at $82,300 and Audi A6 1.8 TFSI at $79,900.
“I don’t think price will be as much of an inhibitor as you might think,” responded McCarthy. “I don’t think there’ll be any resistance to the price when people see the spec.”
At the car’s unveiling in Detroit, Wheels was told to expect only modest price increases, however McCarthy insists the final pricing is not unexpected.
“It’s all in how we’ve specified the car. Cars we spec in Australia are the highest spec of anywhere in the world, and that’s because our market is so competitive.”
“Yes, there’s a new 5 Series coming – the pack of cards is always being shuffled.”
McCarthy says a price-leading model with minimal standard kit was possible, but adds complication because they gather dust on showroom floors.
“Basic models don’t sell. If we had left the equipment out and let buyers put it in later, it’s most likely it would be more expensive in the end.”
“The equipment that we put in is what customers have told us that they want. It makes things easier for us and for the customer and the dealer. Experience has shown us that they option it in anyway, and the price now is a reflection of the transaction prices people are paying.”
“E-Class has lead the segment for a couple of generations in Australia. It’s not our intention to surrender that.”
Mercedes-Benz will flesh out the E-Class range with five more sedans on the way. Two additional petrol models, E300 and E400, and the new E43 AMG performance model likely to land before the end of 2016.
The E350e plug-in hybrid, and range-topping E63 AMG model are slated for 2017, all with similar price hikes expected. Estate variants are also on the horizon, arriving in 2017.