New Mercedes E-Class Estate review

Category: Estate car

The E-Class Estate is a refined and classy luxury estate car available as a PHEV

Mercedes E-Class Estate front cornering
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate front cornering
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate rear cornering
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate interior dashboard
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate boot open
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate interior infotainment
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate left driving
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate front left driving
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate rear cornering
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate rear right driving
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate front detail
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate interior front seats
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate interior back seats
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate interior dashboard
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate front cornering
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate rear cornering
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate interior dashboard
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate boot open
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate interior infotainment
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate left driving
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate front left driving
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate rear cornering
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate rear right driving
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate front detail
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate interior front seats
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate interior back seats
  • Mercedes E-Class Estate interior dashboard
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Back in the Seventies, if you wanted a big upmarket car to carry your family around in, you bought a Mercedes E-Class Estate (although it wasn’t officially called that until 1993). Merc’s wagon had no direct rivals so it was either that or "slum it" in a Ford Granada.

The E-Class Estate had to wait a few years before it had any real competitors, but these days it's up against the Audi A6 Avant and the BMW 5 Series Touring. And of course there are now countless posh SUVs to pick from too.

While many buyers end up going down the SUV route, there are many benefits to choosing an estate car over a higher-riding model, so we’re rather glad the E-Class Estate has returned for a sixth generation (alongside the new Mercedes E-Class).

As always, it promises plenty of space for passengers and their luggage, a luxurious, tech-laden interior and, if you pick the right engine, reasonable running costs (the range includes a potentially very frugal plug-in hybrid).

So, is the Mercedes E-Class Estate the best estate car you can buy, and which engine and trim combination makes the most sense? Read on to find out...

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

The latest Mercedes E-Class Estate will be one of the last dedicated internal combustion-engined Mercedes models before the brand goes electric-only.

Petrol plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and mild-hybrid petrol and diesel engines are available from launch. A nine-speed automatic gearbox comes as standard.

The mild-hybrids start with the 201bhp E200, which uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that’s boosted by a 23bhp electric motor. We’ve only sampled that engine in the Mercedes E-Class saloon but you have to work it quite hard to get from 0-62mph in its official 7.8 seconds sprint time.

Then there's the E220d, which has a 2.0-litre diesel engine producing 195bhp. Although it has 6bhp less than the petrol, its extra pull at low revs means it manages to get from 0-62mph in a similar time.

We reckon the E220d will be the sweet spot in the range, but if you crave even more performance, the six-cylinder E450d, with its official five-second 0-62mph time, has you covered.

However, the version we've driven so far – the E300e – is a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol PHEV producing a combined 328bhp, making it the most powerful E-Class Estate on sale (Mercedes has not yet confirmed whether there'll be an AMG version). Performance is sprightly, with 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds officially – but more impressive is its electric range.

Mercedes E-Class image
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With a 25.4kWh battery sitting under the boot, the E300e has an official electric-only range of range of 69 miles – twice the distance the 530e version of the BMW 5 Series Touring can manage. In real-world driving, 40 to 45 miles is more realistic, but that's plenty from many commutes.

In pure electric mode, you’ll find that acceleration is smooth, and you can get up to motorway speeds briskly using electricity alone. If you do floor the accelerator pedal, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine fires up almost immediately. It’s easier on the ear than the engine in the 530e, and acceleration feels just as nippy as in that car.

Perhaps the best thing about the E300e is its pillowy ride. Like all versions of the E-Class Estate, it comes with self-levelling air suspension on the rear axle, helping keep the back end tied down and controlled – even when you’re carting around heavy loads.

Ride comfort is best at high speeds, where the big Mercedes wafts along as smoothly (and quietly) as some luxury limos. It also deals with broken up urban roads well – better than the 5 Series Touring and the Audi A6 Avant.

The way it goes around corners is less impressive, and here the 5 Series Touring has the edge. The E-Class Estate feels a little softer, more ponderous and has less feelsome steering, although there's a respectable amount of grip and it generally feels more wieldy than its predecessor – or almost any similarly priced SUV you might be considering, for that matter.

In fact, our only major criticism of the E300e's driving manners concerns the brakes. Not because they don’t stop you well enough (they do) but because squeezing the pedal doesn’t always give a consistent amount of braking force.

That's because the car’s regenerative braking system is not very well tuned. It isn't a deal-breaker – it just means you have to concentrate to avoid being jerky when slowing down.

Driving overview

Strengths PHEV has a class-leading electric-only range; plush ride; quiet cruising manners

Weaknesses Brakes on the PHEV are inconsistent; the BMW 5 Series Touring is sharper in the bends

Mercedes E-Class Estate rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

No matter which engine you choose, the Mercedes E-Class Estate has a really eye-catching interior with screens dotted across the dashboard.

There’s a 12.3in one behind the steering wheel for the digital instruments, a 14.4in touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard for the infotainment system and, if you go for AMG Line Premium trim or above, another 12.3in touchscreen on the right side for the passenger.

The passenger screen can be used to run social media apps and take photos, and has a special filter to make sure it's not visible from the driver’s seat.

The E-Class Estate's infotainment operating system is not as slick and intuitive as the iDrive system in a BMW 5 Series Touring, but it’s easy enough to get to grips with. Just don’t try to control it using the touch-sensitive pads on the steering wheel – they're fiddly and infuriating. You’re far better off prodding the screen or using the surprisingly competent voice control.

Ambient lighting snakes across the dashboard to add even more drama to the interior, making it easier the forgive the fact that some of the materials don’t feel quite as dense and substantial as those in the main rivals. You can also choose from various shades of leather upholstery if you think the standard black seats are a little too restrained. 

Visibility is similar to an equivalent 5 Series Touring and better than an Audi A6 Avant thanks to tall side windows, a square rear window and modestly sized pillars. All models come with front and rear parking sensors, and a reversing camera. Stepping up to AMG Line Advanced introduces a 360-degree camera.

Interior storage is impressive, with lots of places to put everyday items, including two large storage cubbies in the centre console and big door bins.

Interior overview

Strengths Eye-catching interior; decent infotainment system; comfortable seats; good storage

Weaknesses Interior isn’t quite as solidly constructed as in an Audi A6 Avant or BMW 5 Series Touring

Mercedes E-Class Estate interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Open the Mercedes E-Class Estate's powered tailgate and wow: the boot offers a vast 615 litres of space with the seats up and a cavernous 1,830 litre with them folded down. This Audi A6 Avant is some way behind with its 565 litres of capacity, as is the BMW 5 Series Touring with its 560 litres. 

That said, the E300e PHEV has one rather big flaw for an estate car. You see, the placing of the battery means the boot floor is higher than on non-PHEV versions, cutting capacity to 460 litres (not much more than a Ford Puma boot has). PHEV versions of the rival models are similarly affected.

If you need more space for clobber, you can always fold down the E-Class Estate's 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatbacks. However, in the PHEV, the seatbacks lie flat at a lower level than the main portion of the boot, meaning there’s an annoying hump in the floor of the extended load bay.

With the seatbacks returned to their upright position, your passengers will find there's plenty of space in the back. Two tall adults will fit in easily, although just as in the main rivals, a middle rear passenger will have to splay their feet either side of a big hump in the floor.

Practicality overview

Strengths Plenty of head and leg room in the rear; the standard car has a huge boot

Weaknesses Boot space in PHEV is compromised by the battery

Mercedes E-Class Estate boot open

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

The Mercedes E-Class Estate is not exactly cheap. Even the entry-level E200 commands a good chunk more money than the current Audi A6 Avant and the BMW 5 Series Touring – although the BMW is about to be replaced with an eighth-generation model that's likely to cost more than the current model.

The price of the E300e PHEV – the only version we’ve driven so far – might raise even more of an eyebrow, because it costs significantly more than its non-PHEV equivalents. However, in this case, the list price is almost a moot point because it’s aimed squarely at company car drivers paying benefit in kind (BIK) tax. 

Indeed, far more relevant are the E300e’s CO2 emissions (as low as 14g/km) and the fact that it can officially do 69 miles on battery power. It's in the 8% BIK tax bracket, meaning a 40% taxpayer will have to sacrifice hundreds of pounds less of their salary every month to drive the cheapest AMG Line Advanced model compared to PHEV versions of the main rivals. 

​​It’s a pity that 50kW CCS fast charging isn’t available on UK models (it’s standard across the rest of Europe), so you’ll be waiting at least two hours for a 10 to 100% charge.

Every E-Class Estate comes brimming with kit, starting with the entry-level AMG Line – our recommended trim for E200 and E220d models – which has 18in alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, electrically adjustable heated front seats and two-zone climate control.

If you value small luxuries, we’d recommend stepping up to AMG Premium –our favoured trim for the E300e – because you benefit from active ambient lighting, a Burmester 4D sound system and the 12.3in passenger infotainment screen.

The new E-Class Estate is too new to have been tested for safety by Euro NCAP but it does come with automatic emergency braking (AEB) and blind-spot assist as standard.

If you’d like more assistance, the reasonably priced Driving Assistance Plus package is worth considering as it introduces adaptive cruise control, traffic sign identification, lane-keeping assistance an exit warning function to ensure you don’t open your door on an unseen cyclist.

It's far too early to tell you how reliable the new E-Class will be but Mercedes didn't do particularly well in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey. It came in 24th place out of 32 car makers. Audi came 26th, while BMW finished in a more respectable 12th.

Costs overview

Strengths Not exactly cheap; fast charging not available on PHEV

Weaknesses PHEV in low BIK bracket; all models are well equipped; plenty of safety kit

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Mercedes E-Class Estate interior infotainment

FAQs

  • The Mercedes C-Class Estate is much smaller than the E-Class Estate. The upside is that it's cheaper to buy, more nimble and arguably easier to park, but the downside is that it features a much smaller boot, a less luxurious interior and less capacious rear seats.

  • Whichever E-Class Estate you choose to buy, it will most likely be priced above an equivalent Audi A6 Avant or BMW 5 Series Touring. However, even the base E-Class Estate is well-equipped which eases the financial blow somewhat.

  • No. While Volvo has stopped building estate cars Mercedes has just introduced its sixth generation of E-Class Estate. 

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £185
Target Price from £57,780
Save up to £185
or from £715pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £42,990
RRP price range £57,780 - £118,110
Number of trims (see all)6
Number of engines (see all)6
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)diesel, diesel parallel phev, petrol parallel phev, petrol
MPG range across all versions 282.5 - 565
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / No mileage cap
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £935 / £6,498
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £1,871 / £12,995
Available colours