The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.0
The Mercedes E-Class offers a level of ride comfort few rivals can match. It’s refined, well built and extremely safe.
Reasons to buy
- Premium interior
- Impressive safety kit
- Luxurious ride
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
The Mercedes E-Class saloon is a really sharp-looking car. It's not particularly eye-catching, but it's handsome in a conservative sort of way. The tone is set by that classic chrome grille with the three-pointed star on top, while the long bonnet and three-pointed star remind you this Mercedes is the real deal. It’s more striking than the discreet Audi A6 and has a traditional design compared with the BMW 5 Series.
What's the interior like?
There’s nothing gimmicky about the interior of the E-Class; it’s spacious, comfortable and exudes class without resorting to brash features. The use of dark wood or aluminium trim complements the black plastics and upholstery. The front and rear seats are comfortable over long distances and can be specified with a massaging option and a system to automatically adjust the side bolsters as you corner. Most of the vehicle controls are operated by the central screen and control joystick, leaving the dashboard less cluttered with buttons.
How practical is it?
The E-Class offers excellent space for front and rear occupants, with rear legroom being particularly good. The boot is able to hold 540 litres of luggage (20 more than a
BMW 5 Series). There are plenty of places to store items in the cabin, and steering column gear selectors for cars with automatic gearboxes (which means almost the entire range is) free up space for storage in the central console.
What's it like to drive?
SE and AMG Sport models are fitted with 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels respectively, and even on the UK's scarred tarmac, it rode exceptionally well. Every model makes a fine high-speed cruiser, surefooted and relaxed on the motorway, but high-spec cars come with air suspension, which smooths things out even further. To cap it all, the E requires very little effort to drive thanks to its light steering. Mercedes is carving its own niche with comfort top of the agenda, while BMW and Audi concentrate more on handling and driver involvement.
How powerful is it?
We’ve driven the E250 petrol, E250 CDI and E350 Bluetec diesels, as well as the E300 hybrid, all paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission and each with something different to offer. The E250 petrol is cheaper than the two diesels, and has a very acceptable turn of pace, so it may well appeal to drivers with a low annual mileage. However, the two diesels have some welcome extra pulling power and are less hard work to drive – the petrol engine needs more revs more of the time – as well as having more tax-friendly lower CO2 emissions. The six-cylinder E350 has a lot to recommend it – stronger performance and better refinement, for a start – but we’re sure the four-cylinder E250 will find more buyers. It’s strong and refined enough, but the clincher will be the double whammy of lower prices and lower CO2 emissions. If you’re a performance junkie, you’ll want the E63 AMG with its twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 that drops the 0-62mph time to just 4.2 seconds while being electronically limited to 155mph.
How much will it cost me?
The E-Class is not cheap compared to its rivals, but it is pretty reasonable to run. AMG models aside, only one model has CO2 emissions of more than 150g/km, while most have average economy figures of more than 50mpg. The most economical model is the E300 hybrid, which combines a diesel engine with an electric motor and averages 68.9mpg, while emitting just 109g/km CO2 – better even than the BMW 520d Efficient Dynamics, although the BMW is much cheaper to buy.
How reliable is it?
There were problems with the complicated systems fitted to the last E-Class, which have led to the new model being extensively redesigned and thoroughly tested. After 21 million development miles involving more than 400 test cars, Mercedes is confident the new car will instill confidence in the brand.
How safe is it?
The E-Class performed superbly in crash tests, and the list of standard and optional safety features is extensive. Nine airbags, ABS and stability control are fitted as standard, while we could fill a book just describing the many – and effective – safety features. The bonnet pops up in a pedestrian collision and the car can monitor for potential drowsiness at the wheel.
How much equipment do I get?
There is a huge amount of equipment available in the E-Class, as you would expect. Even the entry-level SE models get 17-inch alloy wheels, leather-style seats, heated front seats, climate control and parking sensors. Moving up to AMG Sport adds 18-inch alloys, sports seats, extra safety kit and interior trim upgrades.
The latest E-Class is a return to form for Mercedes in the class it traditionally excels in. Rather than ape the competition, it’s carving out its own niche as the most comfortable and refined German luxury saloon with an understated and elegant class.