Used Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate 1999 - 2003 review

Category: Estate car

The Mercedes E-Class Estate looks the part whether at the tip or the local gymkhana

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate (99 - 03)
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate (99 - 03)
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate (99 - 03)
Used Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate 1999 - 2003 review
Star rating

What's the used Mercedes E-Class estate like?

Lift up the rear hatch of the Mercedes E-Class Estate 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 Mercedes E-Class Estate looks the part whether at the tip or the local gymkhana

  • Loads of room
  • Prestige image
  • Fine turbodiesels
  • Smaller petrol engines struggle

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.

Ownership cost

What used Mercedes E-Class estate will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Mercedes E-Class estate?

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.

Our recommendations

Which used Mercedes E-Class estate should I buy?

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.

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What alternatives should I consider to a used Mercedes E-Class estate?