"All the class of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class saloon, but with the added practicality of a massive estate car boot."
If the Mercedes-Benz E-Class saloon is the archetypal executive saloon, then the E-Class estate is its more practical relative. The estate's styling is arguably neater than its saloon relative, although it is a little bland at the rear, while the interior benefits from all that additional space. An extensive engine range and two specification levels create plentiful choice. Even the entry-level E220 CDI turbodiesel and E250 CGI petrol models deliver good performance, while economy throughout the entire range impresses.
With such an extensive engine range, the E-Class can be anything from easy to drive to hard to control. But it never feels underpowered, with the E220 CDI as the entry point to the diesel range. The E250 CDI is the best all-rounder, though, with 201bhp and lots of acceleration in the low gears, although it can be a bit noisy. Smaller petrol engines need to be worked harder, which does impact on economy, but they are smoother. Diesels best suit the estate, which is more about easy cruising and carrying than rushing around. Its steering is accurate and all but the entry-level model come with a seven-speed automatic gearbox equipped as standard.
The E-Class estate majors on refinement and comfort, and while the E220 CDI and E250 CDI diesels can be noisy on start-up, they’re quiet when on the move. The front seats offer plenty of adjustment, and provide excellent support and comfort. Rear-seat passengers have loads of head and legroom, but the middle occupant has to perch on a raised section of the rear seat. SE models offer the most comfortable suspension, while the slightly firmer AMG Sport adds more control on the road. All estate models feature self-levelling rear air suspension for flat cornering, even when you’re carrying a heavy load.
The previous E-Class didn’t have a perfect reliability record, but the latest car feels solidly built inside, from fine-quality materials. The dashboard just lacks the flair and visual appeal of rivals from Jaguar and BMW. Safety equipment is comprehensive, though: all cars have at least seven airbags, electronic stability control and a clever driver drowsiness detection system, as well as a pop-up bonnet, which helps protect pedestrians in the event of a crash.
The E-Class Estate's boot is massive, with the 695-litre space expanding to a van-rivalling 1,950 litres when the seats are folded. It's accessed via a wide-opening, electrically operated tailgate, with a low loading height and user-friendly automatic luggage cover. Mercedes offers load retention bars and straps, and even an extra pair of rear seats as an option. These are so small, they’re strictly for children, but turn the E-Class Estate into a useful occasional seven-seater. They fold flat into the floor when not in use.
Value for money
The E-Class costs more to buy than rivals, but it's well equipped – all cars have Bluetooth, climate control, alloys, rain-sensing automatic wipers and heated front seats. SE models include part-LED headlights, DAB radio, Collision Prevention Assist and a sport grille with a large Mercedes three-pointed star. The AMG Sport adds AMG styling, the COMAND Online internet infotainment system and a more sporty interior design.
Mercedes has developed BlueEFFICIENCY technology to maximise economy and reduce emissions across the range. The E220 CDI is the only model available with a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes, and returns 55.4mpg or 52.3mpg, respectively. The E 250 CGI petrol engine is only available in AMG Sport spec and can’t match the diesels for day-to-day running costs, but still returns 45.6mpg and emits 144g/km of CO2. The quiet, refined V6 turbodiesel is the best match for the E-Class estate, although it costs more to buy and run.