Mercedes-Benz E-Class Saloon full 9 point review
Most E-Class buyers choose diesel power. The four-cylinder E220 CDI delivers good performance given its efficiency, though it’s the only E-class that doesn’t get an automatic gearbox as standard. We prefer the stronger and smoother six-cylinder E350 BlueTec diesel. The diesel-electric E300 hybrid is also worth considering if you’re a company car driver, while petrol fans have four engine options, ranging from the four-cylinder E200 CGI, to the mighty V8-powered E63 AMG.
Ride & Handling
There are different suspension systems for various versions. The softest SE is a good option as it’s pliant but controlled. We haven’t driven the lowered, firmer AMG Sport suspension yet, but the optional air-suspension is certainly effective, if expensive. All E-class models deliver good front-end grip and well-weighted (if slow) steering. This makes the big Merc a suitably chilled companion on b-roads, but thrills are in short supply.
An executive saloon should be a haven of peace, and in six-cylinder diesel form, the E-Class is a very refined car. However, the four-cylinder diesels are way too grumbly and give off too much vibration, while the petrols sound wheezy and breathless too much of the time. All versions suffer from too much road noise, too, so overall, the E-Class is a lot less refined than its best rivals.
Buying & Owning
The Mercedes E-Class is far from cheap, but strong residual values mean it’ll protect your investment well and it’s better equipped as standard than it’s rivals. Company car drivers won’t pay the earth to run one – the E300 diesel hybrid is particularly impressive for this. Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are a bit higher than they are for some rivals on the rest of the range.
Quality & Reliability
At first glance, the E-Class feels like a premium product. The materials in your eyeline are pleasant and there’s a sense of solidity. Look elsewhere, however, and the quality and finish of some panels are disappointing compared with some rivals. The car did well in the 2012 JD Power survey, and scored particularly well for reliability.
Safety & Security
The E-Class comes with all the safety aids you expect – stability control and an impressive nine airbags – plus one or two things you don’t, including a driver-drowsiness detector and an automatic parking system. There are some impressive safety options, too, including a city-braking system that stops the car from low speeds if it senses a collision, and very clever headlights that can be left on main beam permanently without dazzling other drivers. Security kit is also comprehensive.
Behind The Wheel
All versions have electric seat adjustment, which helps you find your favoured driving position easily. Some will find their seat won’t go low enough, though. Many functions are controlled with a central dial, but the on-screen menus can be distracting. The foot-operated parking brake and single stalk for the indicators and wipers take some getting used to as well.
Space & Practicality
There’s plenty of space in the back of the E-Class, with impressive head-, leg- and shoulder-room. That means it makes life comfortable for four people, but a fifth won’t be so well looked after because there’s a bulky transmission tunnel that the middle person will have to straddle. The boot is big with a square floor, but you have to pay extra for folding rear seats.
The Mercedes has class-leading standard equipment, with sat-nav, Bluetooth and USB, DAB radio, heated and electrically adjustable front seats, leather-effect interior, automatic LED lights and wipers all included even on base SE spec. Unless you really value a sportier look, AMG Sport isn’t worth the substantial premium for fancy seat and steering wheel finishes, and aluminium pedals. The options list is also as long as your arm to let you tailor the car to just how you want it.