No, the Germans are not bad at spelling. The Kompressor on the Merc alludes to its supercharger, which hauls it to highway speeds quickly
Try keeping up with new E200 With the new, belt-driven supercharger, the E200 is nearly 20 per cent more powerful although its engine remains the same size. It can no longer be accused of being underpowered

FOLLOW the tail of any new E200 closely enough, and you will notice the badge "Kompressor". To the untrained eye, the new tag suggests that the Germans are terrible at spelling.

In reality, however, the Kompressor badge actually alludes to the E200's new, belt-driven supercharger.

A supercharger is a device that compresses air, raising intake pressure and allowing the engine to breathe dense, oxygen-rich air for increased combustion efficiency.

So, even though the E200's engine remains the same size at 1,998cc, it is nearly 20-per cent more powerful, with 163 bhp calling the shots.

There is a hefty increase in torque, too, with 230 Nm of pulling power spread between 2,500 rpm and 4,800 rpm.

What this means is that the E200 will no longer stand accused of being underpowered. Of course, those in search of a sporty drive will continue to choose BMW's 5 Series or the Lexus GS300, but it is nice that E200 drivers will now be able to keep up with other traffic.

Perhaps "keep up" is the wrong phrase, though, because with the supercharger in place, the E200 now packs some serious overtaking grunt.

There is no violent surge or rough shove in the back as the supercharger kicks in, but once revved past 3,000 rpm, the E200's engine really flexes its muscles, hauling the Mercedes to highway speeds in short order.

The Kompressor shaves 2.1 seconds off the E200's 0 to 100 kmh sprint time, making it 10.2 seconds.

While the E200 gets an improved engine, Mercedes has given the E240 a tweak, as well. Its 2.4-litre V6 engine gains 199 cc to become a 2.6-litre, and even though its horsepower output remains the same at 170 bhp, it has slightly more torque, with 240 Nm of pulling power available.

With its enlarged engine, the E240 dashes to 100 kmh in 10 seconds flat. Given that the E200 Kompressor takes just 0.2 seconds longer to do the same, and costs $16,000 less, is there any reason at all to spring for the E240?

In a word, yes. The Kompressor engine is too unrefined to be in a luxury car. When worked hard, it turns raucous and gruff quickly. The noise from its four cylinders is as appealing as the sound of flatulence from the four stomachs of a cow.

It vibrates slightly at certain speeds, and your ears discern the faint whine of the supercharger doing its supercharging.

In contrast, the E240's V6 is silky, cultured and far better suited to the E-class' role as a lavish form of transportation.

Of course, even if the air one breathes is free, the device that compresses it is not. The E200's list price has risen by $5,000 because of the supercharger, bringing it to $228,000 with COE.

However, that translates into a 2.46-per cent price increase in exchange for a 19.86-per cent horsepower increase.

What true-blue bargain-hunting Singaporean can resist?

How they compare

OLD E200

Engine: 1,998 cc 16-valve in-line four cylinder

Power: 136 bhp at 5,500 rpm

Torque: 190 Nm from 3,700 rpm to 4,500 rpm

Top speed: 202 kmh

Fuel consumption: 9.6 L/100km

E200 KOMPRESSOR

Engine: 1,998 cc 16-valve in-line supercharged four cylinder

Power: 163 bhp at 5,300 rpm

Torque: 230 Nm from 2,500 rpm to 4,800 rpm

Top speed: 219 kmh

Fuel consumption: 9.9 L/100km