The E-Class’ interior looks and feels expensive especially if you upgrade to the top-spec Infotainment system. It has lovely, high-def graphics, but also awkward controls
The Mercedes E-Class’ interior looks, feels and even smells luxurious – sitting in it is a constant reminder that life has gone really rather well. It’s bursting with clever equipment and tech, but you’re not confronted with a sea of confusing buttons – instead you get four classy metal air vents, large swathes of swooping trim pieces and sculpted air vents at either end of the dashboard. It really is a thing of beauty.
SE models are the cheapest but even they’ll make you feel good. Leather upholstery is standard – you can choose from black, brown and beige – and the dashboard is finished with aluminium trim pieces. Ambient lighting, which basks the interior in a cool glow, is standard and you can choose from no less than 64 colours using the infotainment system.
AMG Line models are even nicer, although strangely you get black Artico (Mercedes-speak for fake) leather seats instead of the real deal. That said, it extends out onto the dashboard and you get a slab of unvarnished wood sweeping through it for good measure.
Sporty Mercedes-AMG E43 models get black leather seats and contrasting red stitching, although brown and beige colours are available. You also get red seatbelts, floor mats with red piping, a leather-trimmed dashboard with more red stitching and AMG-branded scuff plates in the door openings – and a big powerful engine.
If you want your Mercedes to smell like the perfume counter in John Lewis then the £295 Air Balance pack should do the trick. It adds your choice of fragrance to the air as well as ionising and filtering it to make it feel as fresh as an alpine meadow.
Really, though, you’re better off saving your money and putting it towards the Premium (£2,795) or Premium Plus (£3,895) pack.
The Premium Pack’s keyless entry and ignition mean you don’t have to bother taking the key out of your pocket to open the car and, if your hands are full, the boot can be opened by sweeping your foot under the rear bumper. You also get the memory pack, so if two of you share the car it will automatically move the seat and steering wheel to your individual position when it detects your key. The most noticeable change is the full-length glass roof that slides open at the front and gives the interior a nice airy feel.
If you’re going to buy all that lot, though, you may as well pay a bit more for the Premium Plus pack. It adds a 13-speaker, 590W Burmester stereo that’s crystal clear and capable of producing some seriously heavyweight bass, and comes with gorgeous laser-cut metal speaker covers. The same pack also gives you Mercedes’ Mutlibeam headlights that illuminate the road with 84 separate LEDs and can sense other cars, dipping the full beam headlights when it does.
The E-Class’ interior’s high-quality materials, contemporary design and uncluttered layout make it feel like your posh London penthouse has sprouted four wheels and an engine
The E200 and E220d come with a Garmin sat-nav system, but it doesn’t have brilliant graphics, processing speeds are slow and the thick, ugly border that surrounds the screen looks outdated. That’s a big problem when the BMW 5 Series comes with the company’s top-of-the-range infotainment system fitted as standard. You operate the Mercedes’ system via a swivel-wheel control between the two front seats, so you can use it without having to take your eyes off the road, but the menus aren’t as clearly laid out as BMW’s or Audi’s systems.
You’re much better off buying the £1,495 Comand Online system that’s fitted to all other models. Its 12.3-inch, high-definition screen has crystal-clear graphics and super-detailed sat-nav maps. In-car wifi turns the E-Class into a four-wheeled coffee shop and you also get access to a 24hr concierge service that can find places of interest – such as an actual coffee shop – and programme them into the sat-nav remotely.
You can operate the Comand Online infotainment system using the same scroll wheel as fitted to the basic system, and by using the touchpad between the two front seats to type in a postcode with your finger (not so easy if you’re right-handed) or via voice commands. Ironically the easiest way to operate it is via the Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring systems, which come fitted as standard.
If you’re spending extra money on the Comand Online system then you should also stump up £495 for the giant 12.3-inch digital instrument binnacle that replaces the regular instruments. It lines up with the centre infotainment screen to create a huge display that makes you feel like you’re strapped into a spaceship, but too many options like this can make costs start to spiral.