New Mercedes E-Class review

Category: Luxury car

The E-Class executive car is elegant, classy, well equipped and good to drive

Mercedes E-Class front right driving
  • Mercedes E-Class front right driving
  • Mercedes E-Class rear left driving
  • Mercedes E-Class interior dashboard
  • Mercedes E-Class boot open
  • Mercedes E-Class interior infotainment
  • Mercedes E-Class right driving
  • Mercedes E-Class front left driving
  • Mercedes E-Class front driving
  • Mercedes E-Class rear driving
  • Mercedes E-Class front right static
  • Mercedes E-Class rear left static
  • Mercedes E-Class left static
  • Mercedes E-Class alloy wheel detail
  • Mercedes E-Class interior ambient lighting
  • Mercedes E-Class interior front seats
  • Mercedes E-Class interior steering wheel
  • Mercedes E-Class interior back seats
  • Mercedes E-Class kickplate detail
  • Mercedes E-Class E300e PHEV charging socket
  • Mercedes E-Class front right driving
  • Mercedes E-Class rear left driving
  • Mercedes E-Class interior dashboard
  • Mercedes E-Class boot open
  • Mercedes E-Class interior infotainment
  • Mercedes E-Class right driving
  • Mercedes E-Class front left driving
  • Mercedes E-Class front driving
  • Mercedes E-Class rear driving
  • Mercedes E-Class front right static
  • Mercedes E-Class rear left static
  • Mercedes E-Class left static
  • Mercedes E-Class alloy wheel detail
  • Mercedes E-Class interior ambient lighting
  • Mercedes E-Class interior front seats
  • Mercedes E-Class interior steering wheel
  • Mercedes E-Class interior back seats
  • Mercedes E-Class kickplate detail
  • Mercedes E-Class E300e PHEV charging socket
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Introduction

What Car? says...

At one time, if you'd told a high-flying executive that their Mercedes E-Class would one day be able to park without a driver and join video meetings with colleagues around the world, they'd have thrown their BlackBerry at you.

Yet this sixth-generation E-Class can do both those and more. We’re talking about autonomous driving functions, a bleeding-edge infotainment system with a separate screen for your passenger, ambient lights that pulse to the beat of the music you’re listening to and a surround-sound system with Dolby Atmos.

What about the actual driving experience, though? Well, we should tell you right now that there’s no electric car version. If you want a fully electrified E-Class-sized Merc, see our Mercedes EQE review.

Mercedes' main rivals are taking the same approach with the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series. Both will sit alongside electric equivalents – the Audi A6 e-tron and the BMW i5 – although the BMWs will be harder to tell apart.

It turns out that executive car buyers like to have a choice over when and how they go electric – and manufacturers are clearly listening.

So, is the new Mercedes E-Class right for you? Read on to find out...

Overview

The Mercedes E-Class is not cheap, but it is well-appointed and impressively refined. It's also spacious, comfortable and easy to drive making it a compelling option in the executive car class. The E300e plug-in hybrid also makes a lot of sense if you’re a company car driver who wants a frugal saloon but isn’t ready to go fully electric.

  • Spacious and sumptuous interior
  • Impressive infotainment system
  • PHEV's class-leading electric range
  • No air suspension or rear-wheel steering in UK
  • E200 is not particularly sprightly
  • Boot space in PHEV is compromised
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Performance & drive

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

The latest E-Class 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, with a nine-speed automatic gearbox 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. Despite the electrical assistance, you have to work the engine quite hard to get it from 0-62mph in its official 7.5-second 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. 

The flexible way it produces its power makes it better suited than the E200 to a relaxing executive car but if you crave even more performance, the six-cylinder E450d diesel, with its official five-second 0-62mph time, should have you covered.

Nevertheless, our preferred model is the E300e PHEV. It has a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol PHEV engine that generates a combined 328bhp, making it the most potent E-Class currently available. It can accelerate from 0 to 62mph in just 6.5 seconds, rivalling the performance levels of a hot hatch.

Mercedes E-Class image
Skip the showroom and find out more online

With a 25.4kWh battery sitting under the boot, the E300e has an official electric-only range of 72 miles – almost twice the distance the 530e version of the 5 Series can manage. In real-world driving, 40 to 45 miles is more realistic, but that's enough for most 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 E-Class, though, is its pillowy ride. Around town, it does a brilliant job of dealing with broken-up surfaces while at motorway speeds it wafts along as smoothly (and quietly) as some luxury cars. If you frequently cover big miles we honestly can’t think of a better long-distance companion.

Just don’t expect it to be as sharp as a BMW 5 Series in the corners. Drive the E-Class hard and you’ll find that it is softer, more ponderous and has less feelsome steering than a 5 Series, and although there's a respectable amount of grip, there’s little joy to be had in hustling it down a country road. This is a car that feels at its best when driven in a relaxed manner.

That's why we were surprised to find that the E300e PHEV’s regenerative braking system isn’t particularly well-tuned. Squeezing the pedal doesn’t always give a consistent amount of braking force so you have to concentrate hard to avoid being jerky when slowing down, which is frustrating.

Driving overview

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

Weaknesses The brakes on the PHEV are inconsistent; the BMW 5 Series is sharper in the bends

Mercedes E-Class rear left driving

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

The E-Class's interior shares a number of its styling cues with the Mercedes EQE and the Mercedes EQS. Ostentatious ambient lighting bathes it with a warm glow and a pair of screens dominate the curvaceous 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’s infotainment operating system is not as slick and intuitive as the iDrive system in a BMW 5 Series, 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.

Aesthetically the interior is more striking than its rivals, but look closer and you’ll find that the materials don’t feel quite as dense and substantial as those in an Audi A6 or a 5 Series. It’s not a deal-breaker though, and we like that you can 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 thanks to relatively slim 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 solid as in an Audi A6 or BMW 5 Series 

Mercedes E-Class interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

The sixth-generation Mercedes E-Class is bigger in every direction than its predecessor, and that's immediately noticeable up front. There's plenty of head and leg room, and the interior is wide enough that you won’t ever end up banging elbows with your passenger.

Passengers in the back get plenty of room in every direction too, but a third rear passenger will have to straddle a big central floor hump. The same is true of the back seats of the BMW 5 Series. 

The E-Class has rear seats that split 40/20/40 and fold down when you pull the handles in the boot. The Audi A6 has folding back seats too, but you have to pay extra for them in the 5 Series.

In terms of boot space, mild-hybrid versions of the E-Class offer a square-shaped loading area with a carrying capacity of 540 litres. The PHEV version loses some space to the battery under the boot floor, reducing the capacity to 370. That’s a touch less than you get in the BMW 530e PHEV.

Practicality overview

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

Weaknesses Boot space in PHEV is compromised by the battery; big central floor hump in rear

Mercedes E-Class boot open

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

The Mercedes E-Class is quite pricey. Even the entry-level E200 commands a good chunk more money than an Audi A6 or the BMW 5 Series – although the 5 Series is about to be replaced with an eighth-generation model that will cost more than the current car.

The list 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, that number is almost a moot point because the E300e is 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 12g/km) and the fact that it can officially do 72 miles on battery power. It's in the 5% BIK tax bracket, meaning a 40% taxpayer will have to sacrifice hundreds of pounds less of their salary 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 comes brimming with kit, starting with the entry-level AMG Line – our recommended trim on 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 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.

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 is not available on the PHEV

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

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Mercedes E-Class interior infotainment

FAQs

  • What counts as a luxury car is subjective, but as executive saloons go the E-Class features a luxurious interior and delivers a relaxing driving experience.

  • No, but it does come with mild-hybrid or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) electrical assistance, and there's also the similar-sized Mercedes EQE which is a full electric car.

  • The "E" stands for Einspritzmotor – German for "fuel-injected engine". Now all cars with an internal combustion engine get fuel injection, but when the first E-Class was launched, it was a big deal.

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £185
Target Price from £55,120
Save up to £185
or from £682pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £42,990
RRP price range £55,120 - £115,860
Number of trims (see all)6
Number of engines (see all)6
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol, diesel, petrol parallel phev, diesel parallel phev
MPG range across all versions 282.5 - 706.3
Available doors options 4
Warranty 3 years / No mileage cap
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £904 / £6,331
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £1,808 / £12,662
Available colours