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 cheap benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax, you should seriously consider the E300e and E300de EQ Power plug-in hybrids.
Just bear in mind that the E300e won't deliver great fuel economy if you don't keep its battery charged. A BMW 530e is marginally better here. Charging either hybrid takes about 90 minutes from a 7kW wall box or five hours from a three-pin plug.
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 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.
Mercedes didn't fare that well in the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey, finishing 26th out of the 31 manufacturers included, which was below Audi and Jaguar, and well below BMW.
The E-Class outshone Mercedes as a whole, though, because in the luxury car category it was up at the sharp end, albeit just pipped by the BMW 5 Series, which finished top.
Every new E-Class is sold with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty, which is similar to its rivals'.
Safety and security
You get a lot of safety kit with the E-Class. That includes automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane keeping assist, traffic sign recognition that displays the speed limit, a driver attention alert to warn you when it’s time to take a brake, and a blind-spot warning to let you know when something is sitting next to you on the motorway. That's more than its key rivals come with as standard.
The safety experts at Euro NCAP awarded the E-Class five stars overall. It all but matches the Audi A6 for adult protection and does a better job than the BMW 5 Series at protecting adults from leg injuries in a crash and keeping children safe.
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