Mercedes E250 CDI SE

The Mercedes E-Class has been given a mid-life facelift, so we drive the best seller on UK roads

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

The E-Class’ facelifted looks have brought it right up to date, helped by new LED technology and cleaner interior styling. The revamp has also brought lots more standard kit to go with the impressive engine line-up. However, the Mercedes is still not as good-looking, efficient or fun to drive as its main rival, the BMW 5 Series.

The Mercedes E250 CDI is the best-selling E-Class in the range, and this is the first chance we’ve had to test the facelifted version in the UK.

It uses the same 2.1-litre four-cylinder engine as the old model, producing 201bhp and plenty of torque for overtaking.

For such a comfortable and luxurious car, though, the engine is still too rattly and rough under light throttle. We also found the auto box sometimes stumbled in between shifts when accelerating hard. CO2 emissions of 131g/km are higher than the BMW 525d’s 126g/km, which puts the Merc in slightly higher road tax and company car tax bands.

Through corners, the E-Class feels heavy and there’s a slight reluctance to respond to steering inputs. The damping is quite firm and fidgety around town, but the ride becomes floaty and comfortable on the motorway.

Air suspension improves the ride at low speed, but at £1,455, it’s quite an expensive option.

SE models come with standard 17-inch alloys, which seem to transmit more road noise to the cabin than the larger alloys fitted to other models in the range.

The new E-Class looks much slicker than before, ditching the quad headlights, retro Bentley-style creases in the flanks and fussy interior detailing for a more modern finish. All cars get high-tech partial LED headlights – but our example had the optional full LEDs, which cost £1,280 extra.

Inside, moving the gearshifter to the steering column has freed up room in the centre console, adding to the spacious feel of the cabin. Visibility is good, and so is the driving position, while our car featured all the equipment you need, including user-friendly sat-nav and a DAB radio as standard.

Most Popular

'The death of cheap cars will be a travesty for personal mobility'
Opinion cheap cars
Opinion

'The death of cheap cars will be a travesty for personal mobility'

Our appetite for small, cheap cars is as strong as ever - although Mike Rutherford warns they may no longer be profitable
12 Sep 2021
New Toyota RAV4 Adventure heads up 2022 model refresh
Toyota RAV4 Adventure
News

New Toyota RAV4 Adventure heads up 2022 model refresh

The rugged Toyota RAV4 Adventure targets lifestyle buyers with a tough-looking new front bumper and interior tweaks
14 Sep 2021
E10 petrol explained: UK prices, checker tool and is it OK for your car?
Petrol pump
News

E10 petrol explained: UK prices, checker tool and is it OK for your car?

E10 petrol is up to 10 per cent ethanol and is available at UK fuel stations now as part of the bid to cut CO2 emissions
1 Sep 2021