Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
Our recommended E220d in AMG Line Premium trim will set cash buyers back a similar amount to the BMW 520d M Sport, while the Audi A6 40 TDI S line is a bit pricier. However, the 5 Series works out cheaper than both in the long term because it is predicted to hold on to a bigger chunk of its list price and costs less than the E-Class to service. The Mercedes E-Class's weaker resale values are reflected in its PCP finance costs, which tend to be higher than its rivals.
The E220d will average 45mpg without too much trouble in the real world. That's pretty competitive, as are its CO2 emissions. It's also RDE2 compliant, which is good for your company car tax bill, but if you're looking for the cheapest benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax, you should seriously consider the E300e and E300de EQ Power plug-in hybrids. And the big advantage of the E300de is that, unusually for a plug-in, when the battery is dead you still have a frugal diesel engine. We saw it averaging 50mpg-plus when we used it for a prolonged period with both power sources in play.
Equipment, options and extras
Every E-Class comes brimming with kit. The entry-level Sport trim features cruise control, power-folding door mirrors, two-zone climate control, 17in alloy wheels, heated front seats and leather seat trim (plus the safety kit, infotainment features and visibility aids we've already mentioned).
However, if you can stretch to the upper-mid-spec AMG Line Premium trim, we think that's the pick of the range. It's roughly the same price as an M Sport BMW 5 Series and adds extras including keyless entry, 19in alloys and a gesture-controlled powered boot lid.
One problem with the E-Class is that you can't add individual options. If you want a specific item, you have to jump up to the trim that has it.