Mercedes E-Class Saloon Review
The Mercedes E-Class is built for comfort and comes with an interior that oozes luxury, but if you’re after a big saloon that’s outright fun to drive then you’re better off looking elsewhere.
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- Luxurious interior
- Comfortable to drive
- Great hybrid engine options
What's not so good
- Alternatives are more fun to drive
- Infotainment can be fiddly
- Only AMG models get air suspension
Mercedes E-Class Saloon: what would you like to read next?
The Mercedes E-Class is the premium saloon for you if you’re after a more subdued, comfortable alternative to the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6. In simpler terms, if the 5 Series is the Rolling Stones, the E-Class is all-out Barry White. It’s just smoother.
There are plenty of models to pick from in the range, from entry-level cars that excel on a motorway cruise right up to the powerful AMG models that focus on performance above all else. There are Estate, Coupe, Cabriolet and chunky off-road All-Terrain models as well, which we’ve reviewed separately.
For 2020, every E-Class has had some subtle design tweaks, including a new grille, bonnet and wheel designs, as well as new colour options. Inside things have changed too. There are new trim colours, leather seats come as standard, the seat design itself is new and the steering wheels have changed offering even more functionality.
The latest E-Class gets Mercedes’ newest infotainment set-up, which includes clever voice control features, a feature-rich sat-nav and twin 12-inch displays now as standard. There’s a new touchpad controller for this system on the centre console, too, which does away with the old rotary dial controller. Some will like it, others won’t.
There’s loads of room in the back seats, a big boot – especially in the estate model – and plenty of in-cabin storage, so the E-Class is a practical car. You’d hope so, as the E-Class’ dimensions make it feel pretty large in town in the UK. This is true of other cars like it as well, though.
You have to respect Mercedes for focusing on comfort with its E-Class, rather than worrying about sportiness too much.
The latest E-Class features a range of new engines including petrol, diesel and plug-in power – the latter allowing you to drive to work on electric power alone. Even the more conventional engines feature mild-hybrid technology to improve efficiency.
While not quite as fun to drive as a BMW 5 Series, the E-Class drives more smoothly over bumps on its standard-fit adaptive suspension. AMG models get adaptive air suspension as standard, which has a slightly stiffer default set-up.
Clever driver assistance tech helps take the slog out of motorway trips, and Mercedes’ optional autonomous cruise control is one of the best systems of its type. It’s not perfect but is smoother than some other manufacturers’ systems. That said, it’d be nice if it was standard…
So, overall the E-Class is more suited to comfort than performance – so it’s perfect if you’re looking for a companion for long trips or a regular commute. Check out our latest Mercedes E-Class deals or read our in-depth interior and specifications review sections for more information.
The Mercedes E-Class has a roomy cabin and a bigger boot than most large executive cars but the curved boot opening can make it a pain to load bulky items
The Mercedes E-Class is found all over Germany in the service of taxi firms, and there are plenty in the UK, too. This is because there’s so much room in the back – passengers will never complain about being cramped.
There’s lots of adjustment in the front seats, so a driver of any shape will be able to fit behind the wheel, and they’ll be comfortable too as the seats are plush and feature lumbar support and heating.
The rear seats are nearly as good thanks to a slight recline, which also helps with headroom – although a BMW 5 Series is slightly better in this respect. Yet we still prefer the E-Class for passenger space because the middle seat is flatter and more comfortable, so you can seat five inside without much trouble.
Fitting a child seat is easy because the doors open wise and the Isofix points are clearly marked. There’s more than enough room to get the base onto the back seats and it’s easy to slot into the Isofix points before you fit the seat in on top, though we don’t like the loose clip covers as they’re easy to lose.
The Mercedes E-Class has lots of interior storage space, so there’s no need to chuck anything in the passenger footwell. A 1.5-litre bottle of water fits in both door bins and the glovebox, while the cubby under the front centre armrest has room for a one-litre bottle of water. Inside, there’s a USB socket to connect your phone with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
There are cupholders for the front and rear seats, and the backs of the front seats have plastic pockets rather than nets, which are great for keeping flat items safe.
The new Mercedes E-Class still has 540 litres of boot space, which is enough space for two large and two small suitcases or a large set of golf clubs. It’s just a little bigger than the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series’ boots – but the opening could be a better shape, so it’s not a huge difference overall.
Folding seatbacks in the rear are now standard as part of the SE pack, which is great for practicality. A normal bicycle will fit in with both its wheels attached, although getting it in isn’t particularly easy.
There’s a hidden storage compartment under the boot floor, plus a flip-down hook to hold your shopping and a smaller, netted storage area at the side of the boot, which is useful for essentials like a first-aid kit.
The estate model has even more space: 640 litres with the rear seats up, and 1,820 litres with them down. It’s one of the biggest estate cars around so will have no trouble with staple items such as buggies and bikes, not to mention large dogs.
The E-Class is extremely comfortable to drive, but in being so, you won’t have as much fun in it on a country road as you will in alternatives.
The E-Class is blooming lovely to drive – it does comfort and luxury very well indeed
The Mercedes E-Class has a wide range of engines covering all bases, from a frugal 2.0-litre diesel up to the powerful and sporty E53 AMG.
The base model is the E200, which has a 2.0-litre petrol engine. It produces a modest 184hp, takes 7.5 seconds to go from 0-62mph and will return about 39mpg. The latter is helped by a new mild-hybrid set-up that provides electric power recuperated from braking to boost economy.
Next up in the range is the E220d, which is a range staple – it has a 2.0-litre diesel engine that produces 194bhp and will return around 53mpg according to official figures. This is the bread and butter of the E-Class range as it will be very economical on long trips, and performance is pretty good: 0-62mph takes 7.3 seconds.
A smooth and luxurious six-cylinder diesel is available in the E400d model. This engine boosts the car’s appeal, but probably not enough to justify the slight price hike and drop in economy over the four-cylinder E220d. This model manages 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds, and averages around 42mpg.
The most powerful non-AMG tuned model in the range is the E450, which has a 3.0-litre straight-six petrol, four-wheel drive and mild hybrid electric power that helps it to reach economy of 31mpg and 0-62mph in 5.0 seconds. It’s a nice engine but the E400d is still smooth and quiet, so it’s probably a better choice.
Mercedes is one of few manufacturers to offer two types of plug-in hybrid with the new E-Class. There are E300e and E300de models in the range, offering fully-electric running from a battery pack and electric motor (that can be charged at home or at a public charger), but with a petrol or diesel engine respectively as well. These models are great for commuting, as you can travel to and from work on cheap electric power, yet long trips are made easy with the internal combustion engine. The diesel works well on long journeys, so it’s the model that makes more sense to us.
The range-topping E53 model has been updated too, and it features a powerful turbocharged V6 that puts out 435hp. Combined with the 22hp from the mild hybrid set-up, that means it can go from 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds – yet it still manages over 30mpg on the official test.
The Mercedes E-Class is all about comfort, and it excels on motorways. The most recent update to the car did away with previously-available optional air suspension but the car is still smooth over bumps at high speed and settles down very well. It’s comfy around town too, though the larger wheels on AMG and AMG-Line models do thud into potholes harshly.
There’s only one option pack on the E-Class now, and it’s called the Driver Assistance Plus package. It adds a lot of safety features to make motorways easier, including blind-spot assist, adaptive cruise control, active lane-keeping and automatic speed limit assist. The latter is the least useful of these features, as it sometimes gets the limit wrong, but the autonomous driving features make long trips a breeze.
All E-Class models get a nine-speed automatic gearbox, and it’s an excellent fit. It changes gear smoothly and quickly when you need it to, so it’s never intrusive. The E53 AMG model’s box has a sharper set-up, but it’s still fundamentally good and suits the car.
The driving position is relaxed, so you can get settled into the car easily, and visibility is average for the class. A reversing camera helps with the car’s large size, as it’s a tight fit in UK parking spaces.
The Mercedes E-Class interior looks and feels expensive and comes with a pair of super-high-resolution screens, but alternatives come with more intuitive controls.
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