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

Category: Executive car

The Mercedes E-Class is a lot of car for the money

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

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

This generation of Mercedes E-Class simply got on with providing executive buyers with what they wanted. That was a cabin with huge amounts of space in the front and rear, superb build quality and a range of engines that catered for all needs.

The clean-cut exterior styling is suitably restrained and elegant, and this is matched inside, although some think the centre console looks too slab-like. Regardless of that, the interior is well appointed with luxury and safety equipment, the boot is enormous and comfort is top-notch.


The Mercedes E-Class is a lot of car for the money

  • Masses of interior space
  • Comfortable and safe
  • Hasn't got the sporty drive of a BMW 5 Series

Helping the comfort side of things is the E-Class' well-judged ride quality. The Merc may not be as agile through the bends as a BMW, but it could make any road surface seem perfectly flat, which also underpins the E's credentials as a fine long-distance motorway cruiser.

Ownership cost

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

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

Visit a franchised dealer for regular servicing and you'll be looking at some very big bills. It's not because the E-Class is especially tricky to work on or that it's unreliable, it's just that Mercedes dealers charge more than most to lift a spanner. If you don't want such big bills at the 9000-mile service intervals, an independent specialist will help reduce maintenance costs.

Insurance is affordable for most E-Class models, with the exception of the V8 petrol models and, especially, the E55 AMG. These two are also the worst for fuel economy.

The petrol V6s offer a good balance between economy, refinement and performance. But, don't think you need to sacrifice a V6 for financial reasons, as the 2.0-litre petrol offers little extra economy.

Come to that, if fuel economy is your ultimate priority, you should be going for a diesel. The 2.2 turbodiesel is easy on fuel, while the 3.2 turbodiesel is also reasonable given its strong performance and refinement.

Our recommendations

Which used Mercedes E-Class saloon should I buy?

The diesels were the most popular models when the car was new and they remain so with used buyers, thanks to their ability to cover huge distances with reasonable economy and good refinement. Our choice is the E320 CDi, with its 3.2-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel that's capable of 36.0mpg.

The smaller E220 CDi turbodiesel is the best bet for anyone who wants good economy because it can manage up to 46.0mpg with a manual gearbox.

We'd avoid the smallest petrol engine, the 2.0-litre, as it just isn't strong enough. Much better are the 2.6, 2.8 and 3.2-litre V6 petrols, with the 3.2 the pick of the bunch and handily the most common of this trio. The petrol V8s are slick and silky in their delivery, but too thirsty to be recommended.

Classic trim comes with all of the luxury and safety kit you'd expect, so it should satisfy most buyers. But, if you want more, Elegance throws in alloy wheels and Avantgarde adds sportier suspension.

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