Executive Car of the Year 2016: Mercedes E-Class

The Mercedes E-Class is the 2016 Auto Express Executive Car of the Year, with the Jaguar XF and Tesla Model S commended

Mercedes has moved the goalposts in the executive market with its new E-Class, which blends imperious quality and refinement in a stylish and efficient package. And it pushes the boundaries for driving tech, too.

Second-generation autonomous driving, called Drive Pilot, keeps you in your lane at up to 80mph and even changes lanes for you where traffic laws allow. Plus, the cabin is more than a match for the S-Class saloon’s.Twin widescreen displays are available and add a futuristic edge, while the sumptuous seats ensure you’re very comfortable on long journeys.

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The old E-Class wasn’t hugely refined, but by pairing a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel with a nine-speed auto gearbox under the bonnet, the newcomer is much better – it goes to the top of the class for quiet cruising.

It’s also lighter than its predecessor, so with 192bhp and 400Nm of torque, the E 220d is faster than you’d expect, sprinting from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds. Opt for the 254bhp 3.0-litre V6 E 350d diesel, and this drops to 5.9 seconds. And although it’s not quite as dynamic as rivals from Jaguar or BMW, standard air-suspension on the 350d provides a relaxed, flowing ride in Comfort mode and a tauter chassis in the Sport setting that’ll withstand some hard cornering.

But the E-Class mainly focuses on comfort, efficiency and technology, and it excels in these areas. Softer suspension means the car flows nicely with the road, while the new engine sees it undercut its main rivals when it comes to emissions – kicking out as little as 102g/km of CO2 and improving its business credentials.

70 years of Mercedes E-Class - W213 2016

It might be slightly more expensive than rivals, but you get a lot for your cash. The long list of standard kit includes self-parking, adaptive cruise, autonomous braking, LED headlights and sat-nav, among other features.

The E-Class has comfort, quality, tech and efficiency in abundance. It’s a fine executive car, and more appealing than ever.

Our choice

Mercedes E 220d SE (£35,935)

Mercedes’ new 2.0-litre diesel well and truly delivers the goods, with strong performance and much-improved refinement over the old unit. And even in entry-level SE spec, the car has a real feelgood factor, with lots of premium equipment, stylish design and plenty of composure. This base model is also faster and more efficient than ever.

Commended

Jaguar XF

Jaguar XF 2016 - front tracking

If you value the driving experience but still want a smart exec saloon, the Jaguar XF features a beautifully balanced chassis, a great engine range and cutting-edge styling. It doesn’t feel quite as upmarket as the Mercedes, yet for keen drivers, it’s the sharpest-handling car in its class.

Tesla Model S

Tesla’s meteoric rise continues, and with a Model X SUV and Model 3 hatch on the way, it’ll gain an army of admirers. However, it’s the Model S that’s made owning a Tesla viable. The efficiency, hi-tech cabin and stunning, guilt-free performance deserve to be commended, while the car’s first-place finish in our Driver Power 2016 survey shows early Model S adopters are delighted.

Auto Express New Car Awards 2016 

For complete, in-depth coverage of the New Car Awards 2016, buy your collector's edition copy of the Auto Express magazine now or click here to subscribe...  

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