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What Car? says

5 out of 5 stars

For Loads of room; prestige image; fine turbodiesels

Against Smaller petrol engines struggle

Verdict Looks the part whether at the tip or the local gymkhana

Go for… E320 CDi Avantgarde

Avoid… E200 Classic

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate
  • 1. The E-Class Estate is a great long-distance cruiser, but it doesn't handle as sharply as a BMW 5-Series
  • 2. Listen out for squeaky brakes, especially on cars that have been used for towing
  • 3. Make sure the suspension has been serviced according to the schedule. The front suspension needs new bushes every 60,000 miles
  • 4. The 300 TD diesel is good, but the 320 CDi is even better - and our choice
  • 5. The E-Class estate is simply one of the most practical estates money can buy
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Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate full review with expert trade views

Lift up the rear hatch and there’s an auditorium-sized load bay, which can be expanded to full concert mode by folding down the easily tipped rear seats. With them up, there’s generous space for three in the back, while those in the front are treated to firmly padded but comfortable seats.

The smallest petrol is the 163bhp 2.0-litre but you’re more likely to find an E240, E280 or E320 with 2.6, 2.8 and 3.2-litre V6 petrol engines respectively. Most of these have auto ’boxes, as do the superb E320 CDi models with a strong six-cylinder diesel. The E220 CDi uses an economical four-cylinder 2.2 turbodiesel. Topping the range are muscular V8 petrols.

The E-Class Estate majors on comfort and is a great long-distance machine thanks to its excellent refinement and smooth ride. And, while it's certainly a good drive, if you expect the kind of handling or steering responses that will match a BMW 5-Series’, you'll be disappointed.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Reliable all-purpose car in demand. 320 CDI is well suited to chassis. Excellent value

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

The E320 CDi turbodiesel is easily the pick of the bunch, thanks to its brawny 3.2-litre engine. At its best when coupled to a five-speed automatic, it will return 36.0mpg.

The E220 CDi diesel is also a sound choice if you don’t mind trading some performance for greater economy. It’ll return up to 46.0mpg.

The smallest petrol engine struggles with the sheer size of the car, so we prefer the petrol V6s for their refinement, performance and decent economy. If you’re in more of a hurry, the E430 V8 is silky smooth and quiet while delivering strong acceleration, or there’s the high-performance (and very thirsty) E55 AMG with its 349bhp 5.4 V8.

The most basic trim, Classic, comes with air-con, a CD player, front and side airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control, which should be enough for most people, especially if you can find a car with some choice options fitted.

Alternatively, hunt out an Elegance model, which adds alloy wheels and wood trim, or an Avantarde with sports suspension. Both gained leather seats as standard from mid-2001.

Trade view

John Owen

Vast load-lugger - 300 TD/320 CDI are the engines of choice

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

The E-Class Estate needs a service every 9000 miles, which can rack up the bills in labour charges alone if you cover a lot of miles, especially as franchised dealers’ service rates are some of the highest of any manufacturer and genuine Mercedes parts are not cheap, but essential. The best bet is to use a Merc specialist where the labour rates will be more affordable, but they still know their way around the car.

Depending on what you’re willing to spend on fuel, the E-Class offers anything from 46.0mpg with the E220 CDi all the way down to 22.0mpg for the E55 AMG performance version. We reckon the E320 CDi is the best balance, turning in 36.0mpg.

Insurance is reasonable for this size and type of car, although if you want a V8 petrol you will have to be prepared to fork out considerably more for cover.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Reliable all-purpose car in demand. 320 CDI is well suited to chassis. Excellent value

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

These Mercs wear their miles very easily, so look for a full service history to back up the mileage.

Warranty Direct reports very few problems with E-Class Estates of this vintage, but it’s worth making sure the suspension has been serviced according to the schedule. The front suspension needs new bushes every 60,000 miles to maintain the ride quality.

Also listen for squeaky brakes. The E-Class is a big car and often used for towing, which gives the front brakes a lot of work to do. Budget for replacement pads at the next service as a precaution.

Surprisingly, rust can be an issue around the front wheelarch lips. Look carefully for any signs of bubbling, and peer under the plastic wheelarch trim to get a proper view.

Trade view

John Owen

Vast load-lugger - 300 TD/320 CDI are the engines of choice

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford
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