9. Mercedes-Benz E-Class

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Mercedes-Benz says the new E-Class is greener, safer and more comfortable.

The E-Class has traditionally been Mercedes' biggest-selling model and has been engineered to square up to BMW in the fuel-saving, CO2-cutting battle, with a package to counter the Munich company's Efficient Dynamics measures.

There are three new 2.2-litre turbodiesel engines and two fresh 1.8-litre petrol turbos among the nine power units on offer.

Fuel consumption for the range has been slashed by up to 23% all three new diesels average 53.3mpg with each emitting just 139g/km of CO2 thanks to Mercedes' Blue Efficiency measures.

These measures include: engine stop/start systems, indicators to advise on the most efficient gearshift points, class-leading aerodynamics, energy-saving engine ancillaries and reduced rolling resistance. All Blue Efficiency modifications feature on some or all models and will be standard in the UK.

Every engine now has direct fuel injection and the lowest CO2-emitting petrol unit is the E200 CGI at 159g/km, but Mercedes is hinting there is a sub-150g/km model on the way.

E-Class v BMW 5 Series
In December we revealed the new E-Class's safety advances, including a driver drowsiness detector, progressive automatic switching between low and high headlamp beams and automatic braking when a collision becomes imminent.

It appears Mercedes has given up trying to match the BMW 5 Series for handling prowess and instead concentrated on maximising the E's legendary comfort.

Adaptive damping is standard - firming up the suspension only when necessary for stability. Air suspension is available as an option..

Avantgarde and Sport models sit 15mm lower than entry-level SE versions.

New seats, three-zone climate control and improved audio and communications systems are also available.

On sale this summer
Saloon and coupe versions of the new E will arrive in the UK this summer, with the estate and convertible to follow by the end of the year.

Why we didn't like it Neither the E-Class nor the supposedly sexier E-Class Coupe grab you in a 'Wow, I must try one of them!' type way, good though they may be.