Mercedes E-Class Estate - Interior & comfort
The Mercedes E-Class has one of the nicest, most high-tech interiors available
Comfort is the first thing people expect from a Mercedes E-Class Estate. When we first drove the saloon, we were pleased that the quest for driver appeal hadn’t diluted the passenger experience and the same is true of the estate.
The SE model comes with a conventional spring suspension system designed to make the car engaging to drive without compromising its smoothness over bumps and ridges, and for the most part it delivers. On the standard 17-inch wheels the suspension absorbs road imperfections with ease. The optional air-suspension system adds an extra dimension of smoothness while keeping the car flat and poised round corners.
We're not quite so impressed by the ride in the AMG Line version, with its bigger, 19-inch alloy wheels and low-profile tyres. The tyres are far less able to absorb shocks than the higher-profile ones fitted to smaller wheels, and the standard spring suspension on the E220d can’t quite disperse the energy of a pothole impact. As a result, bumps in the road send jolts shuddering through the car.
The E350d has the air-suspension system as standard and this may well be more adept at soaking up these forces, but we’d still choose the SE as a motorway cruiser rather than the AMG Line.
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The E-Class is impressively quiet inside, too. The suspension transmits very little racket from the road into the passenger compartment, while there’s barely any noise of wind rushing over the windscreen and door mirrors. Only the occasional outburst from the engine under hard acceleration is likely to break the tranquillity.
Mercedes E-Class Estate dashboard
The interior design of the latest E-Class is a real high-water mark in the model’s history, and has lost nothing in the translation from saloon to estate car. The first thing that strikes you is the attention to detail, with four attractively designed swivelling central air vents. Then you find that they’re every bit as enjoyable to use as they are to look at, as they’re made of metal that’s cold to the touch.
High-quality details like this abound on a dashboard that apes the flagship Mercedes S-Class limousine. It looks classically elegant while still making certain rivals seem dated – although the clean, simple dashboard of the Volvo V90 has enough appeal that the Mercedes only has a narrow advantage.
The E-Class’ front seats are big and supportive, giving a faultless driving position. The instrument display is clear and can be upgraded to a twin-widescreen layout, with digital displays for the dials and sat nav, without losing clarity or becoming fiddly to use.
Equipment is generous on all E-Class models. The infotainment system on the SE version uses an 8.4-inch tablet-style display. It comes with Garmin sat nav, DAB radio and Bluetooth – this can optionally allow the use of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The car has LED headlights and the added convenience of a powered tailgate, which can be remotely controlled using the key. A reversing camera makes manoeuvring easy, while heated front seats and ambient interior lights that offer a rainbow of 64 colour choices add to the feeling of luxury. Outside, 17-inch alloy wheels are standard.
The sportier and more expensive AMG Line model is distinguished by AMG exterior styling upgrades, including 19-inch alloy wheels, a leather-look upper dashboard, an AMG Nappa leather steering wheel and stainless-steel pedals. It also has a seat comfort package with electric lumbar adjustment and upholstery in the combination of ARTICO artificial leather and microfibre fabric that graces all sport-styled Mercedes interiors. It also gains a COMAND Online navigation system, bringing wi-fi functionality and interactive mapping.
Mercedes has traditionally had the longest options lists in the industry and the latest E-Class is no exception. There are Premium and Premium Plus packages available for starters: the former costs £2,800 and includes keyless go, memory seats and a panoramic glass sunroof. An additional £1,100 upgrades this to Premium Plus, which gets you a 13-speaker Burmester surround-sound stereo and intelligent LED headlights.
We’re big fans of the flagship COMAND Online infotainment system, which offers advanced navigation functions and media connectivity. It can be chosen for £1,500 and incorporates a 12.3-inch cockpit display that matches a similar display in front of the driver. This second widescreen display is also available separately for £495, bringing the high-tech ambience of the Mercedes S-Class.
The E-Class Estate in SE trim gets real leather upholstery as standard. While the ARTICO man-made leather and microfibre finish on AMG Line models is very nice, the £1,600 upgrade to high-quality, soft Nappa leather is even better.
Although not an option as such, 4MATIC four-wheel drive isn’t something you should choose lightly. You have to consider not only its £1,500 cost, but also the resulting increased fuel consumption and higher CO2 emissions, which can impact company-car tax.