The Mercedes E-Class is built for comfort with an interior that oozes luxury, but if you’re looking for a big car that is fun to drive then look elsewhere
If you want a posh big saloon with a real feel-good factor then the Mercedes E-Class should be shoved right to the top of your shopping list.
It’s the popular saloon model that’s reviewed here, but you can also have the E-Class in the form of a prettier coupe, a dog-friendly estate car or as the supercar-eating, performance model – the AMG E63. If you want the presence of the latter but without the high running costs – choose AMG Line trim, which gets you big wheels and a subtle body kit – that’s sure to turn the neighbours green with envy – but can be combined with a frugal diesel engine.
Whichever model you choose, the E-Class cocoons you in luxury in a way that similar models such as the BMW 5 Series can’t quite match. The interior design is simple but also very stylish. Buttons are kept to a minimum so there’s space left over for lashings of expensive trim pieces and the more money you pour into the options list, the better it gets.
You control most of the car’s systems via a central screen, though it’s best to upgrade from the cheap-looking eight-inch Garmin unit to Mercedes’ own 12-inch Comand Online system, which has more detailed graphics.
You get loads of space to go with your posh surroundings too. All models come with electric front seats that slide far back on their runners to accomodate even very tall adults and the back seats are pretty good too.
The Mercedes E-Class is so luxurious it feels like a S-Class limo from the driver’s seat
If wafting down the road in as much comfort as possible is your thing, then you’ll adore the E-Class. Its cabin is quiet, and if you specify the optional air suspension it feels like you’re floating down the road on the fluffiest of fluffy clouds.
It would be a safe cloud too: the E-Class got a five-star safety rating when it was evaluated under Euro NCAP’s extremely tough 2016 testing regime. All models have automatic emergency braking that can detect cars as well as people.
In terms of engines, it’s hard not to be tempted by the 258hp 350d’s six-cylinder diesel – it’s smooth and powerful, but you’ll find the cheaper 194hp E220d is plenty quick enough. This smaller diesel is also quiet and good for real-world fuel economy of more than 50mpg. Live in town? Then consider the 350e plug-in hybrid, it can travel up to 21 miles on electric power alone – slashing your running costs if you have a short commute. On the other hand, if you live in the country, the All-Terrain model’s raised suspension and four-wheel means it can deal with rough roads that would leave a standard E-Class stuck high and dry. If you want a car that’s fun to drive, though, the BMW 5 Series is still a better bet than all of them.
So, if you’re hunting for a saloon car that puts comfort above all else and has a luxurious interior then the Mercedes E-Class is the car for you. See how it performs against the BMW 5 Series in our group test video, and read the interior, practicality, driving and specification sections over the following pages for more in-depth analysis of the E-Class.