Review

Mercedes E-Class saloon

Price  £34,270 - £46,270

Mercedes E-Class saloon

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Very safe and quiet
  • High-quality interior
  • Lots of engine choices
Cons
  • Not as much fun to drive as BMW 5 Series
  • AMG models are expensive to run
  • Interior is quite reserved

At a glance

The greenest
E300 BlueTEC SE Hybrid 4dr £39,900
The cheapest
E220 BlueTEC SE Auto 4dr £34,270
The fastest
E350 CDI AMG Line 4dr £41,210
Top of the range
E300 BlueTEC Hyb AMG Line Premium Plus 4dr £46,270

"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, Audi A6 and Jaguar XF. The car has recently been given an extensive facelift, which has brought extra equipment, tweaked engines and more stylish looks.

The E-Class is good to drive, although unlike the 5 Series, it's slanted towards comfort rather than driving fun. 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 are decently equipped, 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, with the more powerful diesels giving a decent blend of the two. The car is also available in sporty Mercedes E-Class coupe or practical Mercedes E-Class estate forms.

The Mercedes E-Class is expensive to buy, but it should be reliable and offer excellent resale values compared to cars from more mainstream manufacturers such as Ford and Volkswagen.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.8 / 5

Entry level engines offer tax-friendly CO2 emissions

The most basic 2.1-litre diesel Mercedes E-Class returns decent fuel economy of 58.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 125g/km for road tax that costs £110 a year. The E300 BlueTEC model improves on those figures, hitting 68.9mpg and emitting even less CO2, so road tax drops to just £20 a 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 a year to tax and can only manage up to 28.8mpg fuel economy.

A new 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox is now available on the E350 BlueTEC model, improving CO2 emissions from 156g/km to 139g/km for a tax bill of £130 rather than £180 per year.

Engines, drive & performance

3.8 / 5

The driving experience can be anything from mild to wild

Whether you're looking for a car that's exhilarating to drive or simply 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 firmer sports suspension. Buyers can also choose Mercedes' AirMATIC air suspension, which lets the driver choose between soft suspension for a comfortable ride, or a stiffer setting for less body lean in corners.

Even the basic E220 gets from 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds, while BlueTEC models drop that to 7.5 seconds, while also being 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 0-62mph in just 4.1 seconds. It also has more grip in corners than the standard E-Class.

Interior & comfort

4.4 / 5

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 and under acceleration, but they quieten down once you get up to speed. The E63 AMG performance model has been tuned to sound distinctively sporty, but its engine noise is more likely to please than annoy.

Go for SE trim and you'll get the most comfortable suspension of the lot. BlueTEC hybrid models sit lower to the ground (for better aerodynamics) to improve economy, but as a result they aren’t as comfortable. Meanwhile, the E63 AMG models have stiffer suspension to reduce body lean in the corners, which means they can feel a bit harsher on rough roads.

All passengers, bar the one in the middle rear seat, should have plenty of head and legroom, and the driver’s seat offers lots of adjustment, so getting comfortable should be easy.

Practicality & boot space

4 / 5

Cabin storage 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 in the back has limited 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 that holds up to 540 litres of luggage, as well as coming with useful load nets and hooks. Many people will be surprised to discover that 60:40 split-folding rear seats are an extra-cost option.

Reliability & safety

3.5 / 5

The E-Class’ safety equipment list is vast and impressive

Mercedes cars are expensive, but they have an excellent reputation for reliability – something that appears to be confirmed by the 2013 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. Mercedes came fifth out of 32 car companies in the manufacturer rankings. The E-class, meanwhile, came 10th out of 150 cars in the model rankings.

Safety is another Mercedes E-Class strong point and all models get the full complement of airbags, as well as electronic stability control, attention assist (which warns you to take a rest if it detects drowsiness) and bright LED lights. Unsurprisingly, the E-Class was awarded the maximum five stars when it was crash-tested by Euro NCAP.

Price, value for money & options

3.3 / 5

All versions are decently equipped

The Mercedes E-Class features climate control, leather upholstery and a DAB digital radio as standard. AMG Sport models have bigger 18-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension and a sports steering wheel. At the top of the range, the Mercedes E63 AMG gets bright full-LED headlights, an AMG bodykit, AMG suspension and extra leather inside. Choose the E63 AMG S and you also get clever electronics that generate even more grip in corners.

What the others say

3.8 / 5
based on 4 reviews
4 / 5
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!
4 / 5
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.
4 / 5
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.
13 / 20
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. 
Last updated 
10 Apr 2014

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