Road test: Mercedes E-Class
The E Class is quick, comfortable, and extremely roomy.
What is it?
The estate version of Mercedes’ executive saloon. It’s available with a choice of powerful petrol and diesel engines. The E-Class rivals the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series.
How green is it?
The diesels have CO2 emission figures as low as 109g/km. However, it’s a shame the E 350 E hybrid which is part of the saloon range isn’t available as an estate.
Who should buy one?
If you want luxury and luggage space, the E-Class is as good as it gets. The Jaguar XF Sportbrake is more entertaining to drive, but the Merc is more practical.
Road test by Al Suttie, February 2018
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
If you’re keeping faith with diesel, there’s a choice of three engines. The least powerful is the 148bhp E 200 d, then there’s the 191bhp E 220 d and the 254bhp E 350 d.
Rather like Goldilocks’ porridge, the E 220 d is just right. It’s powerful enough for punchy acceleration, even when the car is loaded up with passengers and luggage. Strong performance doesn’t come at the expense of fuel economy, with an official combined figure of 67.3mpg. We didn’t match that, but did regularly see more than 50mpg.
We have also driven the E 350 d, and however accomplished the 191bhp diesel is, it’s hard not to be tempted by the more powerful car’s pace and refinement. While the two less powerful diesels are four-cylinder units, the 350 d is a six-cylinder engine and it sounds much smoother than the others. It’s also blisteringly fast, quick enough to make you wonder why anyone would choose the thirsty and expensive AMG petrol models.
SE versions come with what Mercedes-Benz calls ‘Agility Control’ suspension. It’s mostly very comfortable, if a little firm at low speeds. The E 350 d AMG Line we drove had air suspension which gives a choice of modes (Comfort, Sport, and Sport+), delivering both a supple ride and impressive control on country roads.
On an empty B-road the BMW 5 Series Touring and Jaguar XF Sportbrake are more involving, but the E-Class is a very capable and satisfying car to drive, with or without air springs. It’s quiet at speed, too, with little wind or road noise to disturb the peace. The E-Class is really in its element on a long drive.
Petrol buyers have a choice of two high-performance AMG versions. We haven’t driven either, but on paper they’re as quick as they are expensive. There are also 4×4 versions, and an All Terrain model which combines four-wheel drive with a raised ride height to provide a practical alternative to an upmarket SUV.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Build quality is first rate, and the interior design is striking. However, it takes time to learn how to get the most from the E-Class’s COMAND satnav and infotainment screen. The equivalent Audi system is easier to get to grips with.
There’s lots of legroom in the front of the car, and we finished a long day behind the wheel free of any aches and pains. However, cars with a panoramic sunroof fitted have less headroom, although it’s only really an issue if you are tall and prefer to sit with the seat set high. Rear-seat passengers have enough room to be comfortable for the long haul, too.
What really sets the E-Class Estate apart from its rivals is boot space. Although it doesn’t match the huge capacity of the previous model, with 640 litres it’s significantly bigger than an A6 Avant (565 litres) or a BMW 5 Series Touring (570 litres). Fold the rear seats down and you have a massive 1820 litres to fill.
The E-Class has a five-star rating from Euro NCAP. All the safety features you’d expect are included, as well as some you might not, including a bonnet which lifts up to protect a pedestrian in a collision. Active Steering Assistant, which will steer the car for the driver, is an option, although the driver must continue to hold the wheel and monitor road conditions for this feature to be used safely.
SE spec cars have 17- or 18-inch alloys, a multimedia system, a DAB radio, heated front seats, satnav, 40:20:40 split rear seats, cruise control and a reversing camera. AMG Line models have more aggressive-looking styling, artificial leather on the upper dashboard, privacy glass for the rear side windows and rear windscreen, brushed stainless steel pedals, ash wood trim and more.
The range starts at £37,205 for the E 200d SE, rising to £108,780 for the E 63 AMG S 4Matic+ Edition 1. That compares with a starting price of £34,910 for the Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Choose one of the diesels and running costs should be low. As you’d expect of a Mercedes-Benz, resale values are predicted be strong.
WE SAY The E Class is quick, comfortable, and extremely roomy.
AT A GLANCE:
Performance: 0-62 in 7.7 secs
Economy: 67.3 mpg
Figures for the E 220 d SE Estate