The Mercedes E-Class has long been regarded as the pinnacle of the luxury executive sector, though in recent years it has come under pressure from the flagship models of manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Lexus.
The latest E-Class models are available with a variety of petrol and diesel engines as well as BlueEfficiency low-emissions, lower-tax versions. These offer fuel savings of around 20 per cent, with the most efficient model delivering a combined fuel figure of 54.3mpg, most impressive for a large saloon.
Prices range from £27,570 for the diesel-powered E200 CDI 136hp BlueEfficiency SE, with the range-topping E63 AMG V8, 525 hp petrol version at £71,355. I tested the E Class in one of its lower-category versions, the E220 CDI BlueEfficiency SE, priced at £30,005, excellent value given its long list of standard equipment. Specification includes 16-inch light-alloy wheels, aluminium trim, artificial leather upholstery, heated front seats, 6-speed manual gearbox with cruise control, radio/CD, auto climate control, Blue-tooth interface, all-round power windows, ABS, multi airbags, parking guidance, sports suspension, auto wipers and a wealth of details features including aerial integrated into the rear window and even a device which has a symbol of a steaming cup of tea. No, not a tea-maker in the glove box but Attention Assist – a sensor which monitors your driving behaviour and alerts you when you need to take a break!
All that and more is standard on this SE model, but my test version also added many options including TV tuner, rear seat DVD player, sat-nav, styling package and all this boosted the price by close to £10,000.
The new E Class saloon is visually impressive, the smooth modern styling still evoking hints of the elegant stately Mercedes models of the past. Inside, it is very roomy for five adults, and the seats are very comfortable despite initially feeling over-firm. The bootspace excellent – 540 litres.
Out and about, the car is beautifully smooth and well-balanced, with well-mannered roadholding and despite its BlueEfficiency badge, still offering great performance – the 0-60 mph time is just 8.6 seconds, top speed is 143 mph.
The 2.2 litre diesel offers 170 hp and the official combined fuel economy figure is 53.,3 mpg. In a busy week with a lot of town driving, I managed just over 40 mpg, but with a few longer runs, I have no doubt this model would have given around 50 mpg without effort.
For those looking for class, performance, luxury but with lower running costs, this Mercedes takes some beating.
- FOR: Mercedes status and dependability, above average residual value, generous equipment levels, refined driving feel, lower running costs.
- AGAINST: Truly hard to fault – maybe just slightly softer suspension.
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