Review: Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Trendsetters in the safety field

26 Feb 16 Tim Barnes-Clay

Pros

  • Very comfortable

  • Safe and quiet when running

  • Spacious in the front and rear

Cons

  • Can feel heavy on winding roads

  • Expensive to run

  • High maintenance costs

Our expert rating

The E-Class is a series of executive cars built by Mercedes-Benz in various engine and body arrangements since 1993. The E-Class feels like a big mobile armchair. The German motor offers great overall comfort, which every business commuter will appreciate.

Performance

One of the best variants is the Mercedes-Benz E220 CDI BlueEFFICENCY saloon from 2009 on. It isn’t the most energetic of cars in the class and not as compelling as the equivalent BMW 5 Series, but if your main concern is comfort and finesse you are unlikely to care that much.

Mercedes E-class side

Ride and handling

On the move, the E220 soaks up potholes and glides along almost as if it was on a cushion of air. The rich sound system helps melt away any tension. It’s so resonant that you really do feel like you are in your own living room.

Back on planet earth, the sat-nav is easy to operate and the hands-free Bluetooth system is useful. When the traffic does grind to a halt, the cushioned headrests just take the stress out of things. You can just lay your head back, relax, and accept you’re not going anywhere for a while.

Nevertheless, the Mercedes-Benz E220 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY is a large motor, so it sometimes feels a little heavy and unwieldy on twisty country lanes, but it feels planted at all times.

Interior space

All versions of the E-Class have good room behind the wheel and have electric seat adjustment, which helps you find your preferred driving position without difficulty. There is ample space for your front seat passenger and for occupants in the back of the E-Class, too. Indeed, throughout the whole car, there is remarkable head, leg and shoulder-room, making life comfy for four-up.

The boot is big with a rectangular floor, making it a great place to convey all the family’s gear.

Mercedes E-class interior

What to know before you buy

The E220 CDI does have a bit of a rattling sound to it at low revs, but this disperses somewhat once it gets going. The automatic gearbox can also be erratic on older models from 2006-2009, and the worst case scenario is that you could face a substantial replacement bill.

Diesel engines can suffer expensive issues with the injectors and there is also a potential problem with the camshaft position sensor, which could cause the car not to start. Obviously, this will be easy to identify on a test drive, as will noisy rear suspension gremlins. Again only seeming to raise their ugly heads on pre-2009 cars.

All that aside, for more than 50 years, the saloons in the E-Class range have been acknowledged as trendsetters in the safety field. So, much can be forgiven, as this is one of the safest used prestige family cars you can buy.

E-class alternative

Alternative cars

Used prices for the E-Class are on a level with most of its peers, and all models are well kitted out. As well as the BMW 5 Series, rivals include the Jaguar XF, Audi A6 and Lexus GS. All are refined, good looking and munch their way through motorway miles like a hot knife through butter.

Overall verdict

Long-distance comfort and state-of-the-art safety aside, the Mercedes-Benz E220 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY saloon’s combined fuel economy of 56.5 mpg means that you can enjoy prestige motoring without incurring high fuel costs. And with the E-Class emitting just 133 g/km CO2, you can rest assured that your choice of car is environmentally-friendly too.

Expert rating

Performance

Reliability

Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money

Overall