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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For This refined, classy estate drives as well as the saloon and takes huge loads

Against Very little, but the manual gearbox doesn't suit the car, so stick to automatics

Verdict Upmarket, comfortable executive car that's also very practical

Go for… E280 CDI Avantgarde

Avoid… 200K

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate
  • 1. The loadbay is huge - far bigger than that of an Audi A6 Avant or BMW 5 Series Touring
  • 2. The cabin is solidly screwed together and should stay rattle-free
  • 3. If you want a diesel, avoid the E320 CDI (which can occasionally suffer starting problems) in favour of the E270CDi
  • 4. The basic Classic trim has enough toys for most, so there's no need to buy anything dearer
  • 5. There are some electrical problems with the automatic gearbox, so make sure it works smoothly before you buy
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Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate full review with expert trade views

Behind those swish, upmarket looks is a practical, working estate. The loadbay is huge - far bigger than that of an Audi A6 Avant or BMW 5 Series Touring. You're unlikely to need more than its 690 litres in everyday use, but when you do, the rear seats fold flat to free up a gargantuan 1950 litres.

The quality of the roomy cabin shines through, and most drivers should find it easy to make themselves comfortable behind the wheel. All the controls are well sited and operate with a satisfying action.

Ultimately, it's handling isn't a match for the 5 Series, but it's surefooted and tidy nonetheless. In town, too, it's surprisingly practical for such a big car, with a lovely tight turning circle. However, the E-Class wagon really excels on motorways, where it chomps through the miles in complete, refined hush.

It's almost completely silent, except for the E320 CDI engine, which is noisier than you'd like if you rev it hard.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Rounder, heavier, with good space for passengers and boot. Still pricey to buy

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

The E280 (from '05 onwards) gets our vote. It's smooth, quiet, economical and has just the sort of strong mid-range response you need for serious load-lugging.

On that score, the E200K supercharged petrol and E220 CDI diesel lose out. Besides, there's no great penalty going for the E280 diesel, as it isn't that much heavier on fuel than the E220 diesel. For pre-'05 cars look for the 270CDI.

The E320 CDI diesel looks promising on paper, but it's a little thirstier and doesn't give that great a boost in performance. More to the point, it isn't as quiet as it should be.

Among the petrol engines, the 3.2 V6 and 5.0 V8 are genuinely rapid and very tempting if you can stomach the higher running costs. The E55 AMG is insanely fast: 0-60mph in less than five seconds; flush to skint takes only slightly longer.

Trim levels kick off with Classic and spiral up through Elegance and Avantgarde to range-topping Sport. Avantgarde gives all you need, in our view.

Trade view

John Owen

Great car spoilt by electrical reliability concerns

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

It is expensive to buy - but second-hand prices are high because it's an excellent car and there's plenty of demand for it.

That will work in your favour when you resell, because the E-Class estate holds its value very well, and you shouldn't underestimate the importance of its sluggish depreciation. When you flog it on, it will repay the initial premium it commanded - and probably more besides - compared with less prized estates.

The fuel bill on diesels (35-38mpg) and smaller petrols (30mpg) is reasonable, while insurance costs will be lower than for a BMW 5 Series, similar to an Audi A6 Avant's and higher than a Volvo V70's.

However, service costs are less competitive - the BMW will be slightly cheaper, the V70 and A6 noticeably less.

However, you can hack the labour bill by as much as half by going to a specialist independent instead of a Mercedes dealer, according to Warranty Direct.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Rounder, heavier, with good space for passengers and boot. Still pricey to buy

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

The E-Class signals Mercedes' determination to rid itself of the reputation that 'it doesn't make 'em like it used to'. The cabin is solidly screwed together and should be rattle-free.

There are few reported mechanical faults so far, but the E320 CDI can very occasionally suffer starting problems. Instead, owners generally suffer from small and niggling - but wide-ranging - electrical glitches.

Often, they are faults with the software, with the automatic gearbox being a particular case in point. So, if you're consdering a car with an automatic gearbox, ensure that it shifts smoothly.

Also, check that the engine has a constant idle and picks up power willingly. If not, the ECU (the engine's electronic brain) may need attention.

Such gremlins should be covered under Mercedes' three-year unlimited-mileage warranty, and many cars will have had them ironed out. Either way, a full service history is absolutely vital - and ensure that the very precautionary brake-related recall checks have been carried out.

Trade view

John Owen

Great car spoilt by electrical reliability concerns

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford
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