REVIEW DATE: 23 Jun 2006
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Has Long Been A Favourite Amongst Executive Buyers, But June Neary Wants One As Her Everyday Ride.
The Mercedes E-Class has long had a reputation as a safe, well-engineered car with a strong brand image. The only downside was its somewhat stodgy driving characteristics. The latest generation of E-Class models have rectified that fault and are now recognised as clearly the best around. A thorough set of revisions to the car have helped further so that if you want to project an image that nothing but the best will do, the E-Class is a sound choice. There's a lot to be said for meritocracy.
Mercedes took extensive measures to improve the quality of this E-Class, introducing more advanced technology across a number of its systems but it's not immediately apparent that the current model is such a heavily revised vehicle. True Merc anoraks may spot the front bumper, v-shaped grille and revised headlights but that's about it externally. Inside, it's more of the same with a revised steering wheel and climate control panel being about the size of it. Under the skin, it's a different story. Handling and steering have been improved as have the engines and the adaptive braking system has been borrowed from the S-Class. The smoothed over lines of the latest E-Class do a good job at disguising quite what a sizeable hunk of metal it is. Still, it's hardly radical looking, offering an evolution of the bug-eyed design theme Mercedes introduced in 1995. The marque's 'family' styling is most evident from the rear three-quarter where that now familiar coupe-like swoop to the roofline is employed. In this case familiarity doesn't breed anything other than admiration. The look that was so right in 1998 with the design of the S-Class has worn well and gives the E-Class an arresting profile. The interior styling is much like the luxurious S-Class. The fascia bulges outwards as if pumped to 100psi, my E350 test car featuring over 70 assorted knobs, buttons, switches and dials. Open the glove box to access the instruction manual if you want to know what does what or alternatively use it to defend your vehicle against would-be carjackers. It's a weighty tome. It's also indicative of the thorough approach Mercedes have taken. Consider the suspension. Buyers who choose the Classic and Elegance trim levels get a soft riding setup whilst those that fork out for Avantgarde get a 15mm closer to terra firma and a stiffer ride. Go for the optional Sport pack and it gets yet more rigid whilst Airmatic suspension is an option on all models bar the E500 and offers a similar pneumatic system to the S-Class.
Mercedes traditionally offer a wide range of engines from which to choose and the E-Class is no exception. A supercharged 184bhp E200K model now slots in beneath the V6 E280 which in turn is followed by the 3.5-litre V6 (E350) and a V8 5.0-litre petrol (E500) that's good for no less than 388bhp. Should you hanker after truly obscene levels of power, you'll merely need a large bank balance - to invest in the 514bhp E63 AMG flagship. More significantly, we also get an economical and refined E320CDI diesel. Talking of diesel engines, the E220 CDI is likely to be the volume seller, combining as it does an attractive price tag with the double whammy of 141mph/8.4sec performance and an average fuel return of over 44mpg. If this 170bhp powerplant doesn't get you moist in anticipation, the 190bhp E280CDI unit should do the trick. Here's a diesel engine that can manage nearly 40mpg yet sprint to 60mph in 7.6 seconds and pound autobahns all day at 149mph. The downside? You'll need to stump up over £32K for the privilege. Whoever said the best things in life were free obviously never test drove one of these. Above this model there's the E320CDI which is, predictably, more powerful and more expensive. The E350 I drove was fitted with Mercedes' excellent 7G-TRONIC automatic gearbox (best to steer clear of their manual boxes) and would slur between gears so smoothly that only by glancing at the rev counter could you sometimes detect a gearchange. Variable assistance power steering makes manoeuvring at low speed simplicity itself whilst at motorway speeds there's a decent amount of feel. Safety and security facilities are both top notch.
It's not often that you can let your heart rule your head over a Mercedes saloon. The Mercedes E-Class is different. It's a car that does everything so well that I didn't want to give it back, especially when I realised the car that was replacing it was a Kia. If I had to run a car in this class as a business proposition, I'd probably opt for a diesel E-Class, but until then I'll just have to badger the boss for a pay rise or three.
The results below show the top E CLASS deals on buyacar
|Mercedes Benz E Class E220 CDI SE 4dr Tip Auto diesel saloon|
|Price £28,514||Save £5,406|
|Mercedes Benz E Class E250 CDI AMG Sport 4dr Tip Auto diesel saloon|
|Price £33,220||Save £5,865|
|Mercedes Benz E Class E220 CDI AMG Sport 4dr Tip Auto diesel saloon|
|Price £30,902||Save £5,633|
|Mercedes Benz E Class E220 CDI SE 5dr Tip Auto diesel estate|
|Price £30,277||Save £5,568|
|Mercedes Benz E Class E250 CDI AMG Sport 5dr Tip Auto diesel estate|
|Price £34,862||Save £6,028|
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