The E-Class Estate’s cabin looks absolutely gorgeous but its basic infotainment system isn’t anywhere near as good as the standard systems fitted to alternatives
The Mercedes E-Class Estate comes with an almost identical interior to the luxurious E-Class saloon. You get a stylish sweeping dashboard, chromed air vents and a slim bank of metal switches inspired by the even more upmarket Mercedes S-Class.
Entry-level SE models come with leather seats (in your choice of brown, beige or black), some smart brushed aluminium dashboard trims and a reasonably bright infotainment screen tucked under a leather-trimmed dashboard. You even get customisable ambient lighting to bathe the E-Class Estate’s plush interior in one of 64 selectable colours.
Step up to a sporty AMG-Line model and you’ll lose out on real leather seats in favour of what Mercedes calls Artico man-made leather items. Thankfully, they look just like real leather and come with additional lumbar support to help reduce back ache on long journeys. Also standard is a lovely strip of unpolished black ash wood on the dashboard – not unlike what you get in the Volvo V90 – that’s a refreshing change from the BMW’s easy-to-scratch glossy black plastics.
High-performance AMG E43 versions come with plush Nappa leather seats (a £1,595 extra on other models), some AMG badges dotted around the interior and a set of rather garish red seatbelts. These won’t be to everyone’s taste but they help make sure your passengers won’t mistake your AMG-tuned E-Class Estate for a regular diesel model.
Just five minutes of twiddling the E-Class Estate’s central scroll wheel and you’ll have a good idea what 80 years of repetitive strain injury might feel like…
Pick a model with a four-cylinder petrol or diesel engine and you’ll have to make do with a rather small 8.4-inch infotainment system. It sits within a cheap-looking plastic frame that doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the Mercedes’ plush cabin.
It comes with a scroll-wheel and touchpad control on the centre console that’s neither as intuitive nor as comfortable to use as the iDrive controller in a 5 Series Touring. To flick through the system’s menus you’ll have to twist your hand awkwardly around the bulbous touchpad – hardly ideal.
The Mercedes’ standard Garmin-based satellite navigation looks a bit low-rent too, and its unresponsive menus make it much more frustrating to use than the BMW’s slick system.
The upgraded Comand Online system is a huge improvement. It’ll set you back £1,495 on four-cylinder cars but it’s standard on V6 models. You get a sleeker 12.3-inch screen and a much better sat-nav system with clearer maps and more intuitive menus. The screen’s so large it can display both a map and a second menu screen at once so you can, say, tweak the stereo without losing track of where you’re going.
Inputting a destination is relatively easy thanks to the predictive postcode feature, but the fiddly scroll wheel and touchpad arrangement takes more getting used to than the 5 Series Touring’s scroll wheel or the V90’s touchscreen.
If you don’t like Mercedes’ own navigation system, you can use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring to display your phone’s sat-nav apps on the car’s built-in screen instead. Both systems are standard on all E-Class Estate models.
The optional £495 digital driver’s display is also well worth paying for. It ditches conventional analogue dials in favour of a configurable high-resolution screen – just like Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. It can show everything from your stereo settings to sat-nav directions and compliments the Mercedes’ upmarket cabin perfectly.
The standard stereo is reasonably punchy but you’ll want to upgrade to the excellent £750 Burmester system if you’re a music fan. It doesn’t sound quite as concert-ready as the £3,000 Bowers & Wilkins system you get in a Volvo V90 but it’s much cheaper and comes with some fabulous laser-etched speaker grilles as standard.