David's test must have been done in his proving grounds' wind tunnel, for the good ol' fashioned diesel noise is noticeable. Not loud, mind you, but your cochleae do detect that something different lurks under the E320's hood.
That's not to say this car has the NVH characteristics of a 1975 300D, for it doesn't. Years of engine development have yielded Mercedes-Benz a diesel V-6 that's not only clean and efficient, but also surprisingly smooth and muted.
Perhaps the biggest indication of how far diesel engines have come in the past few decades is the E320's prowess in winter climates. No, I'm not talking about the car's ability to traverse through powdery snow (thanks in no small part to Mercedes-Benz's excellent traction control), but simply the engine's performance in sub-zero temperatures. I awoke one morning to a thermometer reading of negative-eleven degrees Fahrenheit, and though my initial reaction was to curse my lack of a block heater, the Benz had no difficulty firing up. It did, however, take some time to warm its interior.
Speaking of the cabin, I'm rather impressed. Though it isn't one of the most exorbitant interiors ever produced by Mercedes-Benz (you'll need to look toward the AMG models for those), the E's trimmings are stylish, solidly built, and surprisingly comfortable. Though I can't attest to the comfort of the rear bench, the front buckets-what with their plush headrests-feel like luxurious Barcaloungers. The only digression (and my only complaint) lies with the center console design, which provides no padded armrest and looks cheaper than the one in the C-class.
Still, I'm impressed by this package, and I'd absolutely love it if MBUSA brought over an all-wheel-drive E320 Bluetec wagon. They won't listen to me, though they'll be more than happy to sell you an R320 diesel...
Evan McCausland, Web Producer