Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
So far we’ve only tried the very latest E Class Estate in E300d guise, an engine not available in the UK. The good news is that it’s effectively the same 2.0-litre diesel engine you’ll find in the E220d that we do get, just with a little more power and the same nine-speed automatic gearbox
Our experience of the 191bhp E220d, which was unchanged in the 2020 update, is that it gives the E Class brisk performance (0-62mph takes 7.7sec) with plenty of punch above 1500rpm. That means lugging heavy loads won't be too taxing and it’s quick enough to whisk you to 70mph as effortlessly as a BMW 520d Touring or Volvo V90, before settling into a long-legged cruise.
That said, it is the smoothest engine of its type – for that, you’d need the 2.0 TDI 190 in the Audi A6 Avant. If you want a more demure diesel, you’ll have to look at the 2.9-litre, six-cylinder E400d, which offers a rapid 0-62mph time of just 5.1sec. Alternatively, there’s a diesel hybrid called the E300de that’ll take you from 0-62mph in just 5.9sec and has a 34 mile electric-only range. The final ‘normal’ engine is a modest 2.0-litre petrol that isn’t as strong as the E220d, yet costs a similar amount.
If pace and power are your main concerns, you need to look at the AMG range, starting with the E53 4Matic. Unsurprisingly, with a 429bhp 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six petrol engine, it’ll fling you down the road mightily briskly; 0-62mph takes just 4.5sec. There will be a crazy few, though, who believe the E53 isn't quite quick enough. It isn't a full-blooded V8 AMG engine, after all. If that sounds like you, check out our dedicated review of the full-fat AMG E63 S model.
As standard, regular E Class Estate models have self-levelling air springs at the rear and conventional springs and adjustable dampers at the front, however we’ve only sampled a refreshed car with full air suspension, which is no longer available in the UK. We’ll let you know what the standard suspension is like when we can, although we’d certainly recommend shying away from 19in and especially 20in wheels if you enjoy a cushy ride. AMG models get firmer air suspension as standard, which can be stiffened to improve cornering.
Its handling is less laudable but still tidy. The Volvo V90 in sporty R-Design trim is more stable and remains flatter through bends than even the E Class, which rolls about more and feels less stable during high-speed direction changes. On the plus side, nicely weighted and precise steering makes the Mercedes easy to place the nose exactly where you intend. Four-wheel drive is available, but only as standard equipment with the E400d and AMG models – it’s isn’t optional on any other engine.
Where the E Class Estate really scores is its high-speed refinement. That ninth gear – most of its rivals have ‘only’ eight – allows the engine to tick away barely audibly at low revs on the motorway, and wind noise is well suppressed. Only a more pronounced rumble from the tyres prevents it from beating the 5 Series Touring for peace and quiet at cruising speeds.
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