The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.1
The Mercedes E-Class combines load-lugging practicality and premium luxury in one smart-looking package. It’s comfortable, good to drive and well equipped.
Reasons to buy
- Huge luggage capacity
- Well built
- Impressive safety kit
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?
Classy is the word that best describes the exterior of the
Mercedes E-Class. It’s not especially adventurous, but it’s also lacking in styling gimmicks, so there’s an understated elegance. To our eyes at least, it looks all the smarter after its facelift in early 2013. This bought in new one-piece headlights, as well as revisions to the bumpers, bonnet and rear end. The tone is set by that classic chrome grille with the three-pointed star on top – Mercedes could create a car of any shape, but you’d know exactly who made it just by the quickest of glances at that timeless face.
What's the interior like?
There’s no denying the interior is a little sober, with little to excite, but it’s all clearly laid out, everything feels built to last and the materials used in the cabin’s construction inspire confidence. As one of the biggest cars in the Mercedes range, it’ll come as no surprise that there’s no shortage of leg room in the front as well as the rear – while the load bay is of gargantuan proportions, too.
How practical is it?
With the biggest load bay in the business, if you can’t fit it into an E-Class estate, you’ll need a truck. Fold the rear seats and there’s a 1,950-litre boot; that’s 350 litres more than the
Volvo V70 and 290 litres more than an
Audi A6 Avant.
What's it like to drive?
With the right suspension set-up, cars that are big and heavy find it easier to smother bumps, so the E-Class has a head start over some rivals; this is a large car. It also has a long wheelbase, so it’s no wonder the E-Class offers such a comfortable ride; every model makes a fine high-speed cruiser, but high-spec cars even come with air suspension, which smooths things out even further. A car as big and heavy as the E-Class is never going to be especially nimble, but Mercedes’ engineers have done a good job of ensuring it doesn’t feel unwieldy. With rear-wheel drive, the steering has an easier time of things, so it’s decently weighted and offers reasonable feel.
How powerful is it?
The 2013 changes were far more than just a facelift and included some fine new engines as well. 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 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 Estate starts at well over £30,000 for the E200 CDI SE and rises to north of £75,000 for the E63 AMG. That’s not cheap compared to its rivals, but the engines introduced in 2013 bring affordable running costs. AMG models aside, only one model has CO2 emissions of more than 150g/km, while most have average economy figures of more than 50mpg. Most economical model is the E300 hybrid, which combines a diesel engine with an electric motor and averages 62.8mpg, while emitting just 119g/km CO2.
How reliable is it?
When Mercedes launched the previous E-Class in 2002, the model quickly developed a reputation for being less than dependable, with all sorts of glitches cropping up. The company was fast to act, however, with later models unaffected by the issues of earlier cars – so there’s no reason to think that this E-Class should be anything other than completely reliable.
How safe is it?
Over the years, Mercedes has arguably pioneered more safety innovations than anybody else, Volvo included. So unsurprisingly, the new E-Class estate is crammed with safety kit, from airbags galore to a seriously strong bodyshell with side impact protection and a pedestrian-friendly pop-up bonnet. Also fitted to all E-Class estates are anti-whiplash head restraints, Isofix child seat fixings, ESP and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
How much equipment do I get?
In a bid to increase its sales volumes Mercedes now fits more standard equipment to its cars than before. Even entry-level cars (badged SE) get 17-inch alloy wheels, a powered tailgate, climate control, heated front seats, parking sensors all round and automatic wipers. Moving up to AMG Sport adds 18-inch alloys, sports seats, extra safety kit and interior trim upgrades.
Effortless carrying capacity is the E-Class estate’s key strength, whether it’s people or luggage that you need to transport.