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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Excellent comfort and refinement; wide range of engines

Against Not as sharp to drive as its rivals; conservative styling

Verdict The E-Class is relaxing, discreet and easy to live with, if a little dull compared with some rivals.

Go for… E350 CDI

Avoid… E500

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Saloon
  • 1. The E-Class is roomy, with generous accommodation for four adults.
  • 2. There’s a choice of three suspension set-ups: the SE’s is too soft, while the Sport’s is too hard, whereas the Avantgarde strikes a good balance between the two.
  • 3. The boot is usefully square and large at 532 litres, but folding rear seats are available only as an optional extra.
  • 4. Diesel models are by far the most popular and account for the majority of cars on the used market.
  • 5. Fuel-injection problems on diesel models are the most serious fault, with remedial work being expensive if not carried out under warranty.
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Mercedes-Benz E-Class Saloon full review with expert trade views

The E-Class is roomy, with generous accommodation for four adults. The transmission tunnel limits legroom for the middle rear passenger, though.

Fit and finish is first rate, although the use of some cheaper plastics detracts from the overall ambience. Occupants are well isolated from wind noise, but road noise becomes noticeable at speed and the smaller diesel engines sound gruff when revved hard.

There’s a choice of three suspension set-ups: the SE’s is too soft, while the Sport’s is too hard, whereas the Avantgarde strikes a good balance between the two. Even then, the car is no match for the class-leading BMW 5 Series (’03-’09).

The boot is usefully square and large at 532 litres, but folding rear seats are available only as an optional extra.

Trade view

The E-Class is disappointing to drive compared with some rivals.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Diesel models are by far the most popular and account for the majority of cars on the used market.

The 136bhp E200 CDI is the cheapest diesel, but it feels underpowered; the 168bhp E220 CDI is an improvement, while there's also the 204bhp E250 CDI. Our pick, however, is the 228bhp V6 E350 CDI because it’s smooth and refined, and combines strong performance with impressive fuel economy.

Of the four petrol engines, the E200 CGI is the least powerful, developing 184bhp. The E250 CGI has 201bhp, while the 288bhp E350 CGI V6 and 382bhp E500 V8 give serious straight-line performance.

There are three trims to choose from: SE-spec cars come with climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, rain-sensing wipers and heated front seats, while Avantgarde adds 17-inch alloys, full leather interior and bi-xenon headlights. Sport models come with racier exterior and interior styling, 18-inch alloys and stiffer suspension.

Automatic gearboxes are desirable, but are available as standard only with the larger engines.

Trade view

The Avantgarde engine strikes the best compromise between sporty handing and ride comfort.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The most efficient engine is the E200 CDI, which manages an average of 54.3mpg, while the E220 CDI does 53.3mpg. Even the V6 E350 CDI averages 45.6mpg.

The E200 CGI and E250 CGI are closely matched at 38.7 and 37.2mpg respectively, while the E350 CGI returns a respectable 32.8mpg. The E500 is less impressive, managing an average of 26.2mpg – although this is to be expected from a 5.5-litre V8.

Insurance rates for the E-Class are high, with the V6 and V8 models in groups 40 and 42. The E200 CDI is in group 29, with the rest of the range in groups 32 and 33.

Mercedes' labour rates are among the highest around, so servicing can be expensive. Sticking to independent specialists is one way of saving on post-warranty maintenance costs.

Trade view

The E-Class is disappointing to drive compared with some rivals.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The E-Class has proved reliable, and reports of problems are rare.

That’s not to say it’s completely fault free: fuel-injection problems on diesel models are the most serious fault, with remedial work being expensive if not carried out under warranty.

Some owners have reported a knocking noise from the suspension when going over bumps, as well as an intermittent loss of GPS signal, rendering the satellite navigation system inoperable.

The E-Class has been subject to two factory recalls. The first concerns the power steering system, while the other fixed a fault that could lead to a fuel leak.

Trade view

The Avantgarde engine strikes the best compromise between sporty handing and ride comfort.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
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