Mercedes E-Class review
The Mercedes E-Class is getting on a bit now, but still offers plenty of refinement and luxury
The Mercedes E-Class has stood alongside the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 at the top of the large executive car class for more than two decades, offering buyers a classy, comfortable and refined saloon that is perfect for long distance driving.
Available as a four-door saloon, estate, three-door coupe and convertible, there should be a model to suit all tastes. The big seller is of course, the saloon, with a strong engine range and decent levels of standard equipment.
Entry-level E220 BlueTEC cars come with a 2.1-litre diesel engine capable of 64mpg, while further up the range you’ll find the E250 CDI and more powerful E350 BlueTEC. There’s also an E300 BlueTEC Hybrid and a standalone E250 petrol, as well as the range-topping E63 AMG and E63 AMG S models with more than 550bhp.
Although the Mercedes has a classy appearance, it's not quite as good looking as the Audi A6 or as good to drive as the BMW 5 Series. If you're after a car that puts comfort above driving dynamics, however, the E-Class is well worth a look. It is relatively expensive, though – with prices starting at more than £34,000.
An all-new E-Class will be launched in 2016, and is set to feature an interior similar to that found in the stylish new C-Class, as well as use the C-Class' lightweight modular MRA platform. Be aware that if you buy an E-Class before then you may get a good deal but will miss out on some of the advanced features fitted to this newer model.
Our choice: Mercedes E220 CDI SE
Engines, performance and drive
The Mercedes is good to drive, although it can't really compete with the BMW 5 Series if you're passionate about handling. Instead, it focuses on comfort and refinement.
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 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.
The Mercedes E-Class feels poised and inspires confidence on the road. 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. It's automatic-only too.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
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 107g/km. The non-hybrid diesels are also good, with the E220 BlueTEC combining 64.2mpg with of 114g/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 47.1mpg, along with 138g/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.
Interior, design and technology
A 2013 facelift added the current Mercedes family face to the E-Class. In particular, front and rear LED lights make it really stand out at night. However, in saloon form, the E-Class doesn't look quite as sharp as the Audi A6. The estate version combines practicality with good looks, though, so it might be the model for you, even if you don't need the extra space.
The interior of the E-Class is a nice place to be and it all feels well screwed together with classy touches such as an analogue clock in the centre of the dashboard. All trim levels from the entry-level SE to the flagship AMG-E63 S models get leather seats, climate control and Mercedes' COMAND infotainment system.
If looks really matter to you, opt for the plush AMG Line as it gets deep front bumpers and distinctive alloy wheels – though the SE is more comfortable due to the smaller alloy wheels.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
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.
Reliability and Safety
Mercedes ranked 11th in our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, meaning it comprehensively beat its fellow Germans, Audi and BMW. However, the E-Class dropped 34 places to rank 61st out of 200 cars. It’s worth bearing in mind that is the pre-facelift car, though, so the new model should see the E-Class jump back up the rankings in 2016.
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-spot 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.