Mercedes E-Class saloon
- Lots of engine choices
- High-quality interior
- Very safe and quiet
- Interior is quite reserved
- AMG models expensive to run
- Not as much fun as a BMW 5 Series
"Although it has now been replaced, the fourth-generation Mercedes E-Class offers luxury, comfort and economy. Nearly-new examples should be attractively priced, too."
The Mercedes E-Class you’re looking at here is no longer made, but while the new model is a technological tour de force, the previous-generation car still has a lot to offer. Given the popularity enjoyed by the old E-Class right up to the end of its life, finding a car left in stock at a dealer could get you a seriously competent executive saloon at a handsome discount. The E-Class saloon’s most direct competitors are the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6, though if you’re in the market for an executive car you should also consider the Jaguar XF, the Volvo S90 and the Lexus GS. Note that the old-shape E-Class Estate, Coupe and the high-performance E63 model are still in production.
The E-Class comes with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, with diesel the most popular choice thanks to lower running costs. The E220 diesel offers economy of 64.3mpg, costs just £30 a year in road tax and gets the E-Class from 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds. Opting for the more powerful E350d diesel sees economy drop by about 10mpg and CO2 emissions rise to incur a £130 road tax bill, but the 0-62mph time shrinks to 6.4 seconds. Compare this to the petrol engines, which return around 48mpg at best, and it’s clear to see why the diesel option is so popular.
On the road, the E-Class is all about luxury and relaxation, as opposed to the BMW 5 Series that prioritises driver involvement. As with most large Mercedes, the driver’s seat offers a huge amount of adjustment and a great deal of comfort, while the suspension cossets and insulates you from potholes and other unwelcome intrusions. The diesel engines are a little noisy, though, and some models come with sports suspension. While this sharpens up the handling, it does make the E-Class a little less comfortable. Make sure you know which setup the model in question has before a test drive.
One area where the old E-Class falls down slightly is its interior. Everything is solidly built and works well, but the new E-Class has a superior dashboard design, and is made using even higher quality materials. A 2015 facelift brought improvements in materials and design to the old E-Class, though. Rear passengers get plenty of head and legroom, while the 490-litre boot is a decent shape. Split-folding rear seats were an option, so don’t assume any E-Class you look at will have them.
Towards the end of its life, Mercedes offered the E-Class in just two trim levels. The SE model comes with synthetic leather seats, a natty self-parking system, sat-nav, Bluetooth connectivity and air-conditioning. AMG Night Edition cars have stiffened sports suspension, an upgraded interior and larger alloy wheels.
Even as it approached the end of its life, the Mercedes E-Class did well in our 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, coming 44th out of 150 cars. Build quality, performance and reliability all came in for praise, although owners report the old E-Class isn’t as enjoyable to drive as it might be. Safety is virtually beyond reproach; while the new model features even more advanced protection systems, the previous-generation E-Class has always enjoyed an enviable reputation for safety, and scored the full five stars in its Euro NCAP assessments.
Entry-level Mercedes E-Class engines offer tax-friendly CO2 emissions
The driving experience in the Mercedes E-Class can be anything from mild to wild depending on which model you choose
All seats are comfortable in the Mercedes E-Class – the driver’s seat is highly adjustable, and the rear seats are slightly reclined
Rear-seat passengers in the Mercedes E-Class saloon have loads of head and legroom, while storage inside is decent
The Mercedes E-Class offers a vast and impressive list of safety equipment