The E-Class is available with three diesel engines. We’ve yet to try the entry-level 200d, which has a 2.0-litre unit with 150 horsepower, but we have tried the most popular engine, the 220d, which has a 194 horsepower version of the same engine. To be honest, it’s all most buyers will ever need. There’s loads of pull delivered from low down in the rev range, meaning your progress is always easy, and a fair turn of pace is available when you need it. Importantly, the new engine also stays impressively quiet and smooth most of the time, an area in which Merc’s four-cylinder diesels have really struggled in recent years. The engine also works really well with the nine-speed automatic gearbox you get as standard. The smoothness of the shifts really contributes to the car’s easy-going nature, and when you put your foot down, it always kicks down to the right gear at the first time of asking. It could react a fraction faster, but that’s really splitting hairs.
The 350d has a 3.0-litre V6 diesel with 258 horsepower, and it feels even more muscular, and is even quieter and smoother, too. It’s lovely if you can afford it, but be aware that it costs quite a lot more than the 220d.
The petrol range includes a plug-in hybrid that combines a 2.0-litre engine with an electric motor to give 286 horsepower, but we haven’t tried it yet. The rest of the petrols are the powerful AMG offerings. The E43 has a 3.0-litre V6 with 401 horsepower, and while it’s undoubtedly very fast, the slightly reticent power delivery means it doesn’t feel as frenetic as you might expect. No such problem with the E63, which has a snarling 4.0-litre V8 that delivers a staggering 571 horsepower. It delivers properly explosive pace and an incredible noise, while the 612 horsepower version in the E63 S is even more bonkers.