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 fun to drive then you’d better look elsewhere.
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- Luxurious interior
- Comfortable to drive
- Clever self-driving tech
What's not so good
- Dull to drive
- Alternatives have more headroom
- Optional extras are quite expensive
Mercedes E-Class Saloon: what would you like to read next?
The Mercedes E-Class is a big posh saloon with a lovely interior that makes popping to the shops feel like more of an occasion than in the likes of the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6.
It’s not just the Mercedes’ cabin which has the obligatory feel-good-factor dialled-in – it looks pretty swanky on the outside too. In saloon guise, it’s much more elegant than the overtly sporty BMW 5 Series and more aggressive Audi A6, but you can also get it as an even prettier coupe, a dog-friendly estate, a stylish soft-top and a rip-roaring AMG-tuned E63 performance model.
If you fancy the looks of these super-speedy models but baulk at their propensity to guzzle fuel, you can always pick an AMG Line model with a similar sporty body kit, some bigger alloy wheels and a few choice interior upgrades including gorgeous unvarnished wood trims and a Nappa leather steering wheel.
You won’t feel left out if you pick an SE model instead – these come with real leather seats, lovely aluminium air vents and a whopping great dual-screen infotainment system as standard. This looks much more futuristic than the systems from BMW and Audi but doesn’t get smartphone mirroring as standard which is a shame. You can’t get it with the uber-cool augmented reality sat-nav like in the Mercedes A-Class, either.
These are relatively small complaints, though – especially when you consider how roomy the Mercedes E-Class’ interior is. There’s absolutely loads of space for you to stretch out in the front and there’s more space for three adults in the back than you get in the BMW 5 Series.
The Mercedes feels very nearly as lovely to sit in as the uber-luxurious S-Class but it lacks a few of the flashy features you’ll find in the more affordable A-Class hatchback.
The Mercedes E-Class’ boot is pretty roomy too so it’ll have no trouble carrying everything you need on trips to and from the golf club. If you plan to venture further afield, you’ll find the E-Class does an excellent job wafting along at motorway speeds – especially if you pick a smooth six-cylinder diesel car with the optional air suspension fitted.
That being said, the more affordable four-cylinder versions are very nearly as relaxing to travel in and you can get it with masses of clever driver assistance systems too which make long motorway jaunts feel like nipping to the shops.
There’s even a hybrid model which can potter around town using just electric power – ideal if you have a short commute – and a jacked-up All-Terrain model which will take the odd off-road excursion in its stride.
In fact, the only thorn in the Mercedes E-Class’ side is that it isn’t particularly good fun to drive – even the AMG-tuned E53 models will leave you feeling a little colder than the nimbler BMW 5 Series.
Don’t let this put you off though – especially if you’re on the lookout for a comfortable and classy saloon with a seriously stylish interior. In fact, why not check out the 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 E-Class’ back seat is wide enough to carry three people comfortably – no wonder fat cats love them
The Mercedes E-Class is a favourite among luxury taxi drivers, so you won’t be surprised to learn it’s pretty bloomin’ spacious inside. In the front you get four-way adjustable electric heated front seats, and they slide so far back on their runners that even really, really tall adults can get seated with room to spare. The seats are height-adjustable and you can adjust the steering wheel for height and reach too.
Space in the back is also pretty good. The back doors open wide to make it easier for your passengers to get in, and there’s even an optional system that will close the doors automatically for that ultimate chauffeur experience. The rear seats are slightly reclined so your passengers will feel nice and relaxed, and there’s loads of knee room. Headroom is also fine, but if you’ll regularly carry tall adults then BMW 5 Series has even more space. The Mercedes E-Class is better if you’ll be carrying three people, though – the middle seat feels flatter than the BMW 5 Series’ and your passengers also get more space for their feet.
You’ll find fitting a child seat is easy thanks to the big door openings and the clearly marked Isofix points. 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.
The Mercedes E-Class is crammed full of storage areas so you’ll have no excuse for spoiling the cabin with clutter. All the doors can carry a 1.5-litre bottle of water and the glovebox does the same. The lidded cubby under the front centre armrest has room for a one-litre bottle of water, but it’s best left for phones because there’s a USB socket for use with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Both the front and the back seats get a couple of cupholders each and the backs of the front seats have aircraft-style pockets that won’t sag like the ones in older Mercedes models.
The Mercedes E-Class has 540 litres of boot space which is only 10 litres more than you get in the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6, although the Mercedes’ curved opening means it is harder to load bulky luggage. That being said, there’s more than enough space for two large and two small suitcases or a large set of golf clubs.
Annoyingly, Mercedes will charge you extra for rear seats that fold down 40:20:40 – otherwise the seatbacks are fixed. Fold the optional seats down and a bike will fit in with both its wheels attached, although getting it in isn’t helped by the curved boot opening.
The boot doesn’t exactly bowl you over with handy features but under the flimsy floor cover, which has a cheap plastic handle that feels very un-Mercedes, there’s a sizeable storage area that can hide bulky valuables such as cameras. You also get a flip-down hook that can hold your shopping and a smaller, netted storage area on the side of the boot.
With optional air suspension and self-driving tech, the Mercedes E-Class is very comfy – but it’s in no way sporty unless you go for the high-performance AMG models
The E-Class is blooming lovely to drive – it does comfort and luxury very well indeed
The Mercedes E-Class is available with a wide range of engines covering everything from a 2.0-litre diesel right up to the twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol that’s fitted to the high-performance E63.
The most affordable model is the E200 2.0-litre petrol model – it produces a modest 184hp, takes 7.7 seconds to reach 60mph from rest and returns around 35mpg in normal driving conditions.
The 194hp 220d model is the one to go for if you’re looking for a balance of fuel economy and performance, though. It’s quiet and smooth for a diesel and powerful enough to accelerate from 0-60mph in 7.3 seconds so it has no issues overtaking slower traffic on busy A-roads. Despite this, it’s not particularly thirsty – Mercedes claims it’ll return more than 51mpg and you should be able to get close to this figure in normal driving conditions.
If you spend lots of time doing long motorway journeys, there’s a smoother six-cylinder E400d but it’s quite pricey and will struggle to return more than 40mpg in day-to-day driving. It’s pretty rapid, though – blasting from 0-62mph takes just 4.9 seconds.
If you don’t cover many miles, want a decent turn of speed and a sporty sounding engine, then the E53 is worth a look. It bridges the gap between regular Mercedes E-Class models and the nutty E63, so you get four-wheel drive and a turbocharged six-cylinder engine that’ll sprint from 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds.
The tradeoff for this pace is higher fuel consumption – matching Mercedes’ claimed 31mpg figure will require some careful rationing of the accelerator pedal.
If running costs are your main concern, there’s also a petrol-electric E300e hybrid which can drive for up to 30 miles using electric power alone and take 90 minutes to charge from 10% to 100% using a dedicated wall charger. It comes with the same 2.0-litre petrol engine as the entry-level E200 model, but adds 122hp electric motor which helps boost fuel economy and performance – it’ll complete the 0-60mph sprint in a very reasonably 5.7 seconds. You can forget about matching Mercedes’ claimed 156mpg, but you should be able to reach more than 70mpg in normal driving conditions.
You buy a Mercedes E-Class because you want to get from A to B as comfortably as possible and the car’s supple suspension, which irons out bumps, and quiet cabin are key to this. The Mercedes E-Class is even better when fitted with the optional air suspension that means you literally float over bumps on a cushion of air.
If you do a lot of tiring motorway journeys then the Driver Assistance Plus package should also be on your shopping list. It bundles together a list of acronyms as long as your arm – including ABSA, ABA, ALKA and ESA. They basically mean the E-Class can drive itself on the motorway; steering, braking and accelerating (and adhering to the speed limit) autonomously. All you need to do is keep your hands on the steering wheel.
It’s just as relaxing in town as on the motorway. The standard, nine-speed automatic gearbox seems to know exactly what gear to choose and when to choose it. Visibility is also pretty good for a big saloon car and all models come with a beautifully detailed camera display, so it’s not as hard to park as you might think. You also get Active Park Assist fitted as standard – it can choose a spot and park the car for you.
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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