2021 Mercedes E450 4Matic Sedan Test Review: Don’t Push It

The 2021 Mercedes E450 4Matic’s engineering excellence begins with what it doesn’t do. There’s no barking, crackling, or wake-the-neighborhood roaring upon start-up; leave that to the AMG models. Instead, you’re left with a hushed and refined cabin, appropriate for a good luxury sedan. And just like that, this six-cylinder mild hybrid impresses before you’ve even left the driveway. With 362 hp and AWD, however, our one-year luxury sedan test car has another unexpected side to it.

Once our 2021 Mercedes E450 test vehicle had enough break-in miles, we took it to the track for, well, some testing. Already we’ve fallen in love with its generally superb all-around performance on the street, but track testing is a great way to learn about a car’s true limits, its personality, and, of course, to get acceleration and braking stats. Here’s how it performed.

E450 vs. 540i, G80 3.5T, and A6 3.0T on the Track

The 2021 Jaguar XF is more stylish than the 2021 Mercedes E-Class (pictured), but the Jag lets much more engine vibration into the cabin than our E450 does. [/caption]

The E450 functions as the Goldilocks model in the E-Class’ U.S. lineup. It’s a costly upgrade above the base four-cylinder E350 but still emphasizes luxury more than the E53 and E63 AMG variants. On the track, the E450 turned in a remarkably consistent performance, with acceleration identical to our E450 Car of the Year test vehicle through 60 mph (4.6 seconds), and only one tenth of a second quicker at 70 mph. That time also makes the E450 quicker in our testing than everything else in its class except a 2021 BMW 540i xDrive, an AWD rival that ties the Benz to 60. On the street, the E450’s powertrain is always ready to serve. There’s no need to jam the throttle at every stoplight; instead, appreciate the engine’s quietness and know that passing safely won’t ever be an issue. That’s luxury.

Where things fall apart is in 60-0-mph braking. The best panic-braking performance our one-year E450 test car could manage was 135 feet. Not only is that 8 feet beyond our Car of the Year E450 test car, it underperforms against the G80 3.5T (124 feet), 540i (110 feet), A6 3.0T (109 feet), and a few other competitors. Although the E450’s stopping distance is a letdown, associate road test editor Erick Ayapana commented that the brake pedal felt fine, and he complimented the car’s body control.

A similar story emerged in our figure-eight testing, as well. That MotorTrend-exclusive test evaluates acceleration, braking, handling, and the transitions in between. The actual time of 26.3 seconds at 0.68 g (average) just about matches everything else in the class except the better-performing A6 3.0T, but there’s more to it than that.

“[The E450] started out fun and engaging, but as the tires fell off, it just becomes nearly undrivable,” road test editor Chris Walton said about this at-the-limit evaluation. “Initially the balance was very nice on the skidpad with a very mild oversteer facilitated by the all-wheel drive system’s ability to distribute power to various corners.”

Although we drive cars harder on a closed course than most do on the street, we’ve experienced this sensation in the real world, too. If you hustle the car too hard, too quickly, the tires won’t always grip as much as you’d like. Better to take it easy with this E-Class.

About Those Tires…

No matter how you drive it, though, we can appreciate the steering. “Slightly numb but precise,” as Walton described it, maybe not such a bad thing for a luxury sedan that’s supposed to isolate you from the outside world. What’s interesting is that we commented on a lack of grip from our Car of the Year test car, too. That sedan had 245/45R18 Pirelli Cinturato P7 all-seasons, whereas our one-year car rides on 245/40R19 Goodyear Eagle Sport RSC all-seasons.

Considering the somewhat loud, thrumming noise we hear at highway speeds, we may experiment with tires before our year is up. Until then, we’ll focus more on the E450’s engine that’s equal parts quiet and powerful.

Read More About Our Long-Term 2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 4Matic:

  • Arrival: 2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 4Matic One-Year Review: Hello to a Family Friend

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