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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Masses of interior space, comfortable and safe

Against Hasn't got the sporty drive of a BMW 5 Series

Verdict A lot of car for the money

Go for… E320 CDi Avantgarde

Avoid… E200 Classic

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Saloon
  • 1. The E-Class is a great long-distance cruiser, but it doesn't handle as sharply as a BMW 5-Series
  • 2. Make sure the suspension has been serviced according to the schedule. The front suspension needs new bushes every 60,000 miles
  • 3. A few electrical problems have been reported, but most are easily fixed
  • 4. Diesels are the best engines, with the E320CDi our favourite
  • 5. As on any Mercedes, manual gearboxes aren't great, so stick with the automatics
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Mercedes-Benz E-Class Saloon full review with expert trade views

While drivers after something a bit more sporty went off in the BMW 5 Series, this generation of Mercedes E-Class simply got on with providing executive buyers with what they wanted. That was a cabin with huge amounts of space in the front and rear, superb build quality and a range of engines that catered for all needs.

The clean-cut exterior styling is suitably restrained and elegant, and this is matched inside, although some think the centre console looks too slab-like. Regardless of that, the interior is well appointed with luxury and safety equipment, the boot is enormous and comfort is top-notch.

Helping the comfort side of things is the E-Class’ well-judged ride quality. The Merc may not be as agile through the bends as a BMW, but it could make any road surface seem perfectly flat, which also underpins the E’s credentials as a fine long-distance motorway cruiser.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Avantgarde spec needed, E230 petrol and E220 CDI easiest to sell

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The diesels were the most popular models when the car was new and they remain so with used buyers, thanks to their ability to cover huge distances with reasonable economy and good refinement. Our choice is the E320 CDi, with its 3.2-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel that's capable of 36.0mpg.

The smaller E220 CDi turbodiesel is the best bet for anyone who wants good economy because it can manage up to 46.0mpg with a manual gearbox.

We'd avoid the smallest petrol engine, the 2.0-litre, as it just isn't strong enough. Much better are the 2.6, 2.8 and 3.2-litre V6 petrols, with the 3.2 the pick of the bunch and handily the most common of this trio. The petrol V8s are slick and silky in their delivery, but too thirsty to be recommended.

Classic trim comes with all of the luxury and safety kit you’d expect, so it should satisfy most buyers. But, if yuo want more, Elegance throws in alloy wheels and Avantgarde adds sportier suspension.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

A reliable used car, but watch for electrical and suspension problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

Visit a franchised dealer for regular servicing and you’ll be looking at some very big bills. It’s not because the E-Class is especially tricky to work on or that it’s unreliable, it’s just that Mercedes dealers charge more than most to lift a spanner. If you don’t want such big bills at the 9000-mile service intervals, an independent specialist will help reduce maintenance costs.

Insurance is affordable for most E-Class models, with the exception of the V8 petrol models and, especially, the E55 AMG. These two are also the worst for fuel economy.

The petrol V6s offer a good balance between economy, refinement and performance. But, don't think you need to sacrifice a V6 for financial reasons, as the 2.0-litre petrol offers little extra economy.

Come to that, if fuel economy is your ultimate priority, you should be going for a diesel. The 2.2 turbodiesel is easy on fuel, while the 3.2 turbodiesel is also reasonable given its strong performance and refinement.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Avantgarde spec needed, E230 petrol and E220 CDI easiest to sell

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Unlikely as it sounds, this vintage of E-Class can suffer from rust around the front wheelarches. It doesn’t affect every car, but it’s a common enough problem for it to be worth your while having a good look and peering underneath the plastic wheelarch trim.

The engines are rugged units and will cover incredible mileages if they're serviced on the button, so the most important thing to look for is a full service history at either a Merc dealer or recognised specialist.

And, while you're about it, look at the service file to see if the front suspension bushes have been changed, as they need replacing every 60,000 miles. Also look at the front tyres to make sure they are wearing evenly.

Finally, there have also been a few minor electrical niggles reported, but nothing that is not easily fixed.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

A reliable used car, but watch for electrical and suspension problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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