Mercedes E-Class review
The Mercedes E-Class is a high class executive saloon let down slightly by big asking prices.
The Mercedes E-Class is the three-pointed star's answer to the Jaguar XF, BMW 5 Series and Audi A6. Despite the fact the current generation was introduced in 2009, a 2012 S-Class-style facelift ensured it looks as fresh as ever.
Mercedes E-Class buyers can choose between four body styles - saloon, estate, three-door coupe and convertible. What's more, Mercedes offers three trim-levels across the E-Class line-up: the entry level SE, mid-range AMG Sport, and finally, two full-bore AMG models – the 557bhp E63 AMG and the 577bhp E63 AMG S.
Thankfully, there are other more sensible engines in the Mercedes E-Class range, the cheapest of which is the 168bhp E220 CDI that costs about £33,000, when specced with the entry-level SE model. Mercedes has also hit the sweet-spot with its E300 BlueTEC Hybrid, which returns an excellent 68.9mpg.
One criticism that could be leveled at the E-Class is that it's not quite as good to look at as a BMW 5 Series or Audi A6 but that’s in the eye of the beholder. Less disputable is that the entry level E-Class SE is around £1,000 cheaper than the equivalent BMW but the excellent entry-level Audi A6 Ultra is cheaper than both.
Mercedes has confirmed it will introduce an all-new E-Class in 2016 that is set to feature an interior similar to that found in the stylish new C-Class, as well as the C-Class' lightweight modular MRA platform.
Our choice: Mercedes E220 CDI SE
As a result of its fluid curves and new S-Class style nose, the current Mercedes E-Class is certainly very far removed from the slab-sided, four-eyed version of the 1990s. The E-Class' also features front and rear LED lights, which make it really stand out at night.
In saloon guise, the E-Class doesn't look quite as sharp as the Audi A6. The estate version though, combines practicality with good looks.
The interior of the new E-Class is a nice place to be and it all feels well screwed together with nice touches such as an analogue clock in the centre of the dashboard. All trim levels from the entry-level SE to the flagship E63 AMG models get leather seats, climate control and Mercedes' COMAND infotainment system.
In terms of looks, we'd opt for the mid-range AMG Sport as it gets deep front bumpers and distinctive 18-inch alloy wheels.
Given the E-Class was already pretty decent to drive, Mercedes' engineers geared the 2012 facelift toward efficiency, rather than driving dynamics.
The E220 CDI is a bit rattly on start-up, but once up to speed, it quietens down. With 400Nm of torque available from just 1,400rpm, the E220 provides brisk real-world acceleration. However, this assured display at is undermined by the engine’s gruff soundtrack – it clatters noisily at idle and is coarse when extended.
This is a shame, as the E-Class is otherwise exceptionally refined. There’s almost no wind noise and tyre roar is well suppressed, Better still, the standard adaptive dampers serve up a supple ride, which help the car soak up bumps that would send a shudder through the Jaguar XF’s cabin.
Generally speaking, the Mercedes E-Class isn't as sharp or engaging as the BMW 5 Series, but it still feels poised and inspires confidence. The steering is direct and naturally weighted, body control is good and there’s decent grip. Strong and progressive brakes, a great driving position and good visibility all add to the E-Class’ appeal behind the wheel.
We’d just steer clear of the standard six-speed manual box, as it suffers from a springy and imprecise shift action. The optional slick seven-speed automatic is well worth its price tag of around £1,500.
Mercedes ranked ninth in our 2014 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, meaning it comprehensively beat its fellow Germans, Audi and BMW. However, the E-Class dropped 17 places to rank 27th out of 150 cars.
The list of safety equipment on the Mercedes E-Class is very impressive and all models get at least seven airbags, electronic stability control and driver drowsiness detection as standard. Extra options include night vision, blind-sport monitoring and adaptive cruise control.
Given its impressive raft of safety equipment that the Mercedes E-Class received the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests.
The Mercedes E-Class has 540-litres of boot space, meaning it's more practical than both the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series. Strangely, though, 60:40 split-folding rear seats are only available as an option.
Step inside the E-Class, and five adults can easily sit comfortably thanks to the generous amounts of leg and headroom on offer. One criticism could be that middle passengers have to contend with a large transmission tunnel, but that's the same with the E-Class' rivals.
Look around the cabin and you'll also see Mercedes has given the E-Class plenty of storage space and cubby holes, plus some decent sized door bins.
It's no surprise that the most powerful models in the Mercedes E-Class range, the E63 AMG and E63 AMG S, are really thirsty. The standard E63 AMG emits 230g/km with a claimed fuel economy of 28.8mpg, while the S puts out 232g/km and returns 28.5mpg.
The E300 hybrid BlueTEC diesel is seriously impressive, as it returns 68.9mpg and emits 109g/km. The non-hybrid diesels are also good, with the E220 CDI combining 61.4mpg with of 120g/km.
The 211bhp 2.0-litre E250 petrol offers good performance, and despite its 151mph top speed, its emissions aren't as bad as they could be - Mercedes quotes an official fuel consumption of 47.9mpg, along with 142g/km of CO2.
Sadly for the Mercedes E-Class, our experts predict appalling residuals and expect it to retain around 40 per cent of its original value after three years - both the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 manage to beat this.