Mercedes E-Class saloon
Price £34,270 - £42,375
- Lots of engine choice
- Very safe and quiet
- High quality interior
- Not as fun to drive as BMW 5 Series
- AMG models are expensive to run
- Interior short on flair
At a glance
“Impressive comfort and quality help make the Mercedes E-Class one of the world's best-selling executive cars.”
The Mercedes E-Class competes with other large executive saloons such as the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6. The car has recently been given an extensive facelift, which has brought with it extra equipment, tweaked engines, and more modern looks.
The E-Class is good to drive – although, it's slanted towards comfort more than the BMW 5 Series – and its suspension is smooth and cosseting on basic and mid-range models, getting stiffer on the more performance-oriented trim levels in the range. Even the entry-level models get decent equipment, while the top of the range models cost a lot more, but get all the latest equipment.
Engines offer everything from impressive economy to supercar-worrying performance, while the more powerful diesels give a decent blend of the two. The car can also be had as the Mercedes E-Class coupe or the Mercedes E-Class estate.
The Mercedes E-Class is expensive to buy but it should be reliable and offer excellent residual values compared to more mainstream manufacturers such as Ford and Volkswagen.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Entry level engines offer tax-friendly CO2 emissions
The most basic 2.1-litre diesel Mercedes E-Class returns decent economy of 58.9mpg and emissions of 125g/km for road tax that costs £110 annually. The E300 BlueTEC model improves on those figures with 68.9mpg possible, and low emissions that drop road tax to just £20 per year. Its hybrid system does mean it's significantly more expensive to buy, though. Top of the range models come in the form of the Mercedes E63 AMG and E63 AMG S, which cost £485 annually to tax, and can only manage up to 28.8mpg.
Interior & comfort
Rear seat passengers have loads of head and legroom
The less powerful diesel Mercedes E-Class models can be a bit noisy on start up or under acceleration, but they quieten down once up to speed. The sporty E63 model is also tuned to sound sporty, but its engine noise is more likely to please than annoy.
Go for SE trim and you’ll get the comfiest suspension of the lot, BlueTEC hybrid models sit lower (for better aerodynamics) to aid economy and they aren’t as comfortable as a result, while the E63 models have stiffer suspension to reduce body lean in the corners.
All passengers, bar the fifth in the middle rear seat, should have plenty of head and legroom, and the driver's seat has plenty of adjustment so getting comfortable should be easy.
Practicality & boot space
Cabin stowage is decent thanks to a good-sized glovebox
The Mercedes is a big car and there's space inside for five people, although the middle seat on the rear bench will feel a little cramped for shoulder room and foot space. Storage areas include a large glovebox, map pockets on the back of the front seats, and decent-sized doorbins.
The car also has a good-sized boot with 540 litres of capacity, as well as having useful load nets and hooks. Many people will be surprised that 60/40 split rear seats are a cost option.
Reliability & safety
The E-Class’ safety equipment list is vast and impressive.
Mercedes cars might be expensive, but they have an excellent reputation for reliability and that's something that appears to be confirmed by the 2013 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, where the firm came fifth out of 32 companies in our manufacturer's rankings. The E-class, meanwhile, came 10th out of 150 cars in our model rankings.
Safety is another Mercedes E-Class strong point and all models get the full complement of air bags, as well as electronic stability control, attention assist (which warns you to take a rest if it detects drowsiness), and bright LED lights. Unsurprisingly, it was awarded five-stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP.
Engines, drive & performance
The driving experience can be anything from mild to wild
Whether you’re looking for a car that is exhilarating to drive or a comfortable motorway cruiser – there’ll be a Mercedes E-Class that suits your needs. The suspension on the basic models is tuned for comfort, while AMG models get sports suspension. Buyers can also choose to opt for AirMATIC air suspension, which lets the driver choose between soft suspension, for a comfy ride, or a stiffer setting for less body roll.
Even the basic E220 gets from 0-60mph in 8.7 seconds, while BlueTEC models drop that to 7.5 seconds and are more economical to run. They do cost a lot more to buy, though. The E63 AMG S is the fastest model of all and gets from 0-60mph in just 4.1 seconds and also has more grip in the corners.
Price, value for money & options
All versions come decently equipped
The Mercedes E Class gets climate control, leather, and a DAB digital radio as standard. AMG Sport models get bigger 18-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension, and a sports steering wheel. At the top of the range, the Mercedes E 63 AMG gets bright full LED headlights, an AMG body kit, AMG suspension, and extra leather inside. Opt for the E63 S and you also get clever electronics, which give even more grip in the corners.
What the others say
The E250 CDI still provides a cosseting experience on the road, soaking up bumps and patchy surfaces. A stronger chassis and new dampers that adapt to the driving conditions make this a highly comfortable cruiser – especially because it’s so quiet inside. Part of the reason for this is that Mercedes has used coconut husks as sound insulation: it sounds nutty, but it works!
For the 2009 E-Class, Mercedes-Benz seems to be emphasising the solidity and durability of the car, while bespoke UK equipment grades make the vehicle attractive to company car drivers, particularly in conjunction with new low-emission diesel technology. The majority of the engines in the line-up are impressive, particularly the CDI diesels, although some of the smaller petrols are a little lacklustre in comparison.
If you're looking for the thrusting drive of a Jaguar XF or the quality and style of a BMW 5 Series, you'll be disappointed. The E-Class is thoroughly conservative.
Mercedes has the CLS for being all swoopy, so the E-Class is actually quite boxy. And boxy is good when you're talking practicality. There's a huge boot, great space for real humans in the front and the back and a general feeling that you could live your life in this car - something that those Berlin taxi drivers might well end up doing. Add to that efficient engines and you're on to a winner.