Mercedes E-Class review
The Mercedes E-Class is a comfortable and refined rival to the BMW 5 Series – but it's expensive
The Mercedes E-Class aims to rival the BMW 5 Series, Jaguar XF and Audi A6 with sleek looks, premium quality and great handling. It recently had a bit of an update which brought in a new look, upgraded interior and tweaked engines.
The E-Class is available as a saloon, an estate, a three-door coupe and a convertible. There are three main specifications, entry-level SE, mid-spec AMG Sport and top-of-the-range E63 AMG.
There's an extensive range of engines on offer with the Mercedes E-Class, the cheapest being the E200 CDI turbodiesel. Meanwhile, the E300 Bluetec Hybrid diesel also offers great fuel economy. The top-spec E63 AMG, as you'd expect, is seriously fast and boasts a 5.5-litre V8 with 549bhp.
Our choice: Mercedes E220 CDI SE
Despite the recent facelift, the Mercedes E-Class still isn't as stylish as rivals such as the BMW 5 Series or Jaguar XF. The E-Class now sports more flowing curves and a nose that mirrors that of the recently launched Mercedes S-Class. Meanwhile, LED front and rear lights help the Mercedes to stand out at night.
The interior is packed with upmarket materials and there's plenty of equipment as standard, including leather seats, climate control and Mercedes' COMAND infotainment system.
It's available in three main specifications: entry-level SE, mid-range AMG Sport and range-topping E63 AMG. We'd opt for the mid-range AMG Sport as you get deeper front bumpers and distinctive 18-inch rims.
As there wasn’t a lot wrong with the E-Class’ driving dynamics, engineers have instead concentrated on boosting efficiency as part of this facelift. As a result, the entry-level six-speed manual E220 CDI diesel emits 125g/km of CO2 – that’s 9g/km less than before – while our seven-speed auto puts out just 128g/km.
Happily, these eco-friendly tweaks don’t come at the expense of performance, with the Mercedes covering 0-60mph a tenth faster than either rival, in 8.7 seconds. And with the muscular 400Nm of torque available from just 1,400rpm, the E220 provides brisk real-world acceleration. However, this assured display at the track is undermined by the engine’s gruff soundtrack – it clatters noisily at idle and is coarse when extended. The 168bhp 2.1-litre settles down to a background hum once you’re up to speed, but you never forget there’s a diesel under the bonnet. 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, helping the car soak up bumps that send a shudder through the Jaguar XF’s cabin.
As you’d expect, this relaxed character extends to the E220’s handling. And while it’s not as sharp or engaging as the BMW 5 Series, 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 – our test car’s slick seven-speed automatic is well worth the £1,520 extra.
The Mercedes E-Class finished 10th out of 100 in our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, and even the previous model finished in 38th place - not too bad at all.
The list of safety equipment 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. It's no surprise that the Mercedes E-Class received the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests.
Mercedes also did well in our 2013 Manufacturer ratings survey, finishing fifth place, beating Mazda, Jaguar, Skoda, Lexus and main market rival, BMW.
There's plenty of leg- and headroom on offer and five adults can easily sit comfortably inside the Mercedes E-Class. Middle passengers have to contend with a large transmission tunnel but that's the same with the E-Class' rivals. There's plenty of storage cubbies and decent sized door bins too.
The Mercedes E-Class range is now joined by the highly efficient E300 BlueTEC Diesel hybrid, which emits just 109g/km of CO2 and still manages 67.3mpg.
It does cost a bit more than the E200, E220 and E250 CDI, though, and all of these still manage over 53mpg and emit just under 142g/km of CO2.
Unsurprisingly, the V6 turbodiesel petrol engines and top-spec V8s available in the E500 and E63 come with much higher running costs, which is the price for increased performance.