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Mercedes-Benz E Class Review

Find out more about the Mercedes-Benz E Class in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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8
Out of 10
Average Price £22,376
History

It has been 24 years since the Mercedes-Benz E-Class first went on sale, and we’ve seen four incarnations come and go in that time. The latest fifth-generation version only arrived in 2016, but it was heralded by quite a fanfare, thanks to its new engines and cutting-edge on-board technology.

Taking its place in the competitive executive saloon market, the E-Class is up against the Audi A6, Jaguar XF and BMW 5 Series, as well as the Lexus GS and Volvo S90. Whereas the XF and the 5 Series concentrate on driving dynamics, though, the E-Class is all about ride comfort and equipment.

On the outside, it bears all the modern Mercedes design hallmarks, from the taut lines to the curvaceous headlights and the prominent three-pointed star on the nose. It’s the same story inside, where the stylish Mercedes dashboard is dominated by a central infotainment screen.

Under the bonnet, you get a choice of engines ranging from medium-sized diesels to fire-breathing, hand-built V8s, so there’s plenty of scope for finding the variant that suits you best.

All but the latest generation are offered in four-door saloon, five-door estate and two-door coupe and convertible bodyshapes, although the new coupe and convertible are on their way.

Latest model

The latest E-Class hit the road last year, with the four-door saloon being the first variant to arrive. A short while later, the five-door estate followed. Both models boasted improved refinement and technology, as well as better efficiency from their new 2.0-litre diesel engines.

Externally, the car was designed to look like a larger version of the new C-Class, which has proven so successful, but though the E-Class’ interior is clearly related to that of its smaller sibling, the optional infotainment screens really set it apart.

Instead of the standard screen and instrument binnacle, customers can choose to have two large widescreen displays that sweep across the dashboard to create a high-tech plethora of driving and entertainment displays.

As the new model is rolled out, a coupe and convertible will join the range. A new V8 AMG variant is also expected to arrive later in 2017, sitting above the V6-engined E 43 that currently crowns the range.

Value for money

E-Classes are not cheap cars, although they’re no more expensive than their rivals and they’re equally well kitted out. Basic SE models get leather seats, climate control, automatic wipers, while AMG Line cars add AMG wheels and flared arches, as well as other styling tweaks and extra kit.

Because of the model’s popularity, second-hand examples are numerous, and you can pick up early, well-equipped cars for a song – even ones with low mileages. Scratch around a bit and you should be able to find a handful of solid cars at competitive prices.

Opting for the previous-generation car may be tempting, as it doesn’t look dissimilar to the current model, but strong residual values mean collecting a one- or two-year-old car isn’t going to save you all that much

Looks and image

Throughout its life, the E-Class has been a subtly stylish car, but early models are beginning to age noticeably. The current-generation car looks great, but it’s in short supply on the used market thanks to its youth, although you might find a handful of pre-registered cars kicking about on dealer forecourts.

That said, there isn’t too much difference between the latest E-Class and its predecessor, so you could probably fool a few neighbours by picking up a used model at a slightly lower price.

Whichever generation you go for, though, you’ll be driving a classy machine. Mercedes may be such a common sight on the roads of Britain that you’ll struggle to turn many heads, but nobody is going to argue with your taste when you roll up in one.

Space and practicality

The E-Class is a big car, and though that makes it a bit awkward to slot into supermarket car parking bays, it’s good news when it comes to interior space.

The latest car offers a commodious 540 litres of boot space in saloon guise, while the estate provides 640 litres. Fold the rear seats down and that expands to a cavernous 1,820 litres.

These numbers are marginally larger than you’ll find in the previous generation of E-Classes, but few of them are exactly pokey. The convertibles will, however, have little in the way of luggage space when the roof is down, and all two-door variants will be a little bit short of rear legroom.

Engines

The current E-Class engine range comprises three diesel engines, one petrol and a hybrid.

The sole petrol engine is the twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 that powers the AMG-badged E 43 with its 396bhp output. It’s something of a Jekyll and Hyde engine, offering smooth progress at everyday speeds and a raucous soundtrack when you put your foot down.

Diesels, however, make up the key pillars of the range, with a 148bhp 2.0-litre found under the bonnet of the E 200d and a 191bhp version of the same engine at the business end of the E 220d.

For a bit more go, though, you can choose the silky 256bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel, which is found in the E 350d. It offers a great mix of performance and economy, and constitutes the engine of choice for those looking to travel long distances.

The hybrid, which combines an electric motor with a four-cylinder petrol engine to achieve official fuel economy of 113mpg and a 288bhp power output. Whether it will actually manage such impressive economy in the real world depends on how you use it, but tax benefits make it well worth a look for company car drivers.

Older cars will feature a wide range of engines, but many of those on the used market will use the 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel. It’s a potent enough engine, especially in its more powerful guises, but it lacks the refinement of the new 2.0-litre engines.

Running costs

With such a range of frugal diesel engines, running an E-Class shouldn’t cost you too much in fuel, but beware of the costs of repair and insurance.

Even if you’ve picked the car up for a bargain basement price, it still uses high-quality components, and high quality usually equates to a high price tag. Replacement parts can be sourced at competitive prices, but anything that goes through a main dealer is likely to be costly.

The car’s premium badge will also make it a target for thieves, particularly if you’ve gone for the E 43 AMG, and that will affect insurance costs. Remember, too, that performance from all but the basic E 200d is pretty good, and that’s going to impact your annual premiums, too.

Things to look out for

Mercedes built in the late 1990s and early 2000s don’t have the best record for reliability. Some owners complain of electrical issues and corrosion, while some cars’ throttle bodies have been known to clog after a certain amount of time.

As with the smaller C-Class, the MAF sensors (mass airflow sensors) can be problematic. These small components monitor the air flowing through the throttle and adjust the air/fuel mixture accordingly. If one of these is on its way out, you might notice a rough sound at idle, as well as a lack of power and acceleration.

More modern cars, however, are likely to be much more reliable, but this doesn’t mean they’ll be problem-free. Wear-and-tear parts such as brakes and suspension bushes will go as the car ages, and having work done at a dealership is likely to be expensive, so it might be worth finding a local specialist.

Rivals

One thing the E-Class certainly isn’t short of is competition. German rivals Audi and BMW both make desirable and luxurious executive saloons that are more than worthy of your consideration. More recently, Jaguar and Volvo have joined the party with the XF and the S90, both of which offer something different to the sombre German creations.

There’s a Japanese rival, too, in the shape of the Lexus GS, which isn’t especially sporty but does offer plenty of technology and a hugely comfortable ride.

Depreciation warning

All Mercedes models boast relatively strong residual values, and the E-Class is no exception. Year-old examples won’t be all that much cheaper than almost-new pre-registered cars, and though that means there are some attractive finance deals out there, it does mean you might struggle to pick up modern cars at bargain basement prices.

Which E Class to Pick

Trims Explained

The E-Class comes in a variety of trims, including:

SE

The entry-level E-Class comes in SE trim, which provides many of the basics you’d want from such a car. Leather seats, climate control and satellite navigation all feature as standard.

You’ll get automatic lights and wipers, too.

AMG Line

AMG Line models add to the SE with a host of aesthetic changes.

These include larger alloy wheels and the flared wheel arches, as well as AMG logos in the cabin.

Mercedes-AMG E-Classes

The Mercedes-AMG E-Classes are more about performance than style, with huge, gas-guzzling petrol engines hiding under the bonnets.

Motors Choice

E220d 4Matic SE 5dr 9G-Tronic

What to look out for

  1. Cars hold their value well, so used prices are high
  2. Three-pointed star comes with plenty of kudos
  3. Early 2000s cars have a reputation for being unreliable
  4. AMG cars offer huge thrills, but also huge bills
  5. New 2.0-litre diesel is much more refined than previous 2.1-litre unit
  6. Estate models offer impressive interior space
  7. Dimensions can make parking and other everyday tasks a little more difficult
  8. Hybrid offers tax advantages, but most will find official economy fanciful
  9. Mercedes badge means maintenance won’t be cheap
  10. Later variants tend to be well equipped

Review Rating

"The E-Class Coupe is a four-seater coupe from Mercedes-Benz, which is positioned between the smaller C-Class Coupe and larger S-Class Coupe in the German manufacturer’s growing range.... Read More"