Large Company Car of the Year 2021: Mercedes E-Class
The Mercedes E-Class is the 2021 Auto Express Large Company Car of the Year, with the BMW X5 and Porsche Taycan commended
First impressions count in business, which is one of the many reasons Mercedes takes top honours here. The three-pointed star has long been a firm favourite of the executive set, and the latest E-Class does nothing to change that. As well as classy yet understated looks on the outside, it also packs an interior that effortlessly combines traditional luxury with bang-up-to-date tech, including the brilliantly intuitive MBUX infotainment system that is loaded with features, offering a pair of crisp and responsive 12.3-inch digital displays.
It’s great from behind the wheel, too. The supple ride and whisper-quiet refinement make light work of the longest motorway haul, while its precise steering, strong grip and balanced handling make it a surprisingly enjoyable drive, allowing you to let your hair down at the end of a long day.
There’s also a wide range of engines on offer, from the frugal E 220 d diesel through to the fire-breathing, tyre-shredding V8 AMG models, and the bodystyles on offer run from saloon through to coupé, convertible and cavernous estate.
For those with one eye on the bottom line, however, it’ll be the recently revised plug-in hybrids that will be most warmly welcomed. Emitting as little as 33g/km of CO2 and capable of travelling 34 miles on electricity alone – plus with fair recharge times thanks to the relatively compact battery – these versions will attract a Benefit-in-Kind bill of as little as £2,000 a year for higher-rate earners. This represents a saving of around £4,000 over the slower and thirstier petrol versions.
Excellent comfort levels in any model are a given, along with genuine practicality and a high-quality cabin that is easily a match for its premium rivals’.
Factor in class-leading safety equipment that includes semi-autonomous driving assistance, plus some of the strongest residual values in the class, and it quickly becomes clear that to get ahead in business you need to get an E-Class.
Mercedes E 300 e AMG Line (£46,230)
While every model throughout the E-Class range is compelling, low Benefit-in-Kind costs make the plug-in hybrid variants the cheapest to run for company car users. Falling into the 11 per cent bracket, the petrol E 300 e AMG Line will cost roughly £2,032 in the first year for a higher-rate income tax-payer.
The introduction of a smooth and efficient plug-in hybrid powertrain helps earn the talented X5 its commendation here. An impressive electric range of 54 miles plus CO2 emissions of just 27g/km give affordable running costs, while the four-wheel-drive model’s soft ride, vast cabin and cutting-edge tech help take the strain out of even the longest trips.
If driving fun is at the top of your checklist, then the quick and agile Taycan should be your first choice. It’s not cheap, but the entry-level version attracts a BiK rating of just one per cent. Factor in the car’s comfort, space and 300-mile range, and it’s easy to see why it’s the ultimate EV all-rounder.
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