Mercedes-Benz E-Class Review
"One Merc to rule them all"
Mercedes-Benz E-Class review - front view, driving, grey, 2020

Mercedes-Benz E-Class review: outstanding by every measure

  • Published 11 May 2020
  • 6 minute read
  • By Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

Introduction

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class might be the best premium executive car you can buy. Some versions break into true luxury car territory, while others offer performance to rival a supercar. There’s even an off-road version, if you don’t fancy one of the myriad of SUVs wearing a three-pointed star.

The current E-Class arrived in 2016, and with over a million examples sold to date, you’re hardly buying into an exclusive club. Yet somehow, the E-Class still cuts a mean figure, with the saloon, estate, coupe and convertible versions portraying a classier image than a Mercedes-Benz SUV.

What makes the E-Class so appealing? First and foremost, it oozes quality. From the tight panel gaps to the sumptuous interior, the E-Class feels good right across the board. It’s also spacious, especially if you opt for the cavernous estate, while the technology is a few steps

An outstanding premium executive carMercedes-Benz E-Class review - rear view, driving, grey, 2020 Available to lease from £347 per month Lease Now

You won’t get much change from £40,000 from even the cheapest E-Class, but leasing deals make it surprisingly affordable. Four-year deals start from less than £350 a month.

Read on to discover why the E-Class is arguably the greatest premium executive car on the planet.


Looks, tech and design

If I could be critical for a moment, the E-Class looks a little too much like an enlarged C-Class. Conversely, it could also pass as a slightly smaller S-Class (Mercedes’ flagship) – and that’s not a bad association. Either way, from a Russian dolls perspective, the E-Class represents the middle ground.

LED headlights come as standard, as do 17-inch alloy wheels on the entry-level SE model. Inside, two 10.25-inch digital screens are also standard, although the optional 12.3-inch displays deliver the greatest wow-factor.

Dual-screen interior delivers serious tech thrillsMercedes-Benz E-Class review - interior, 2020 Available to lease from £347 per month Lease Now

The design of the cabin draws heavily from the S-Class – the E-Class is far closer to its larger sibling than the C-Class in this regard. Fit, finish and comfort levels are class-leading, both in the front and the back.

All of which means you’ll be quite happy to leave the driving to somebody else, as the E-Class encourages you to slip off your shoes, recline the standard-fit leather seats and kick back for a while. Speaking of which, the E-Class can do much of the driving for you.

The intelligence of the driver assistance system has always been impressive, but the latest E-Class update takes things to a new level. Everything has been designed to make driving as stress-free as possible – in most circumstances, you decide how little or how much you want to do.

Even tailbacks can be a pleasurable experience, with the E-Class handling the braking, acceleration and steering, leaving you free to enjoy the sight of other drivers becoming increasingly irate with the congestion.

Coupe is swoopy, but still has a big bootMercedes-Benz E-Class review - Coupe, side view, red, 2020 Available to lease from £347 per month Lease Now

Predictably, the E-Class estate is the one to go for if you, a) have a dog, b) enjoy shopping at Swedish furniture stores and, c) like big wagons. Not that the E-Class saloon is impractical, but without the benefit of a hatchback, outright versatility is compromised.

If it’s just the two of you, the E-Class coupe is a spacious and practical alternative, with a boot large enough for a long holiday. Finally, the E-Class cabriolet is great with the roof up or down. Personally, I’d take E-Class All-Terrain, as I have a thing for jacked-up premium estate cars that are great off-road. But I admit this is a bit of a rare groove.

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Driving

It won’t surprise you to learn that the Mercedes-Benz E-Class majors on driving comfort. Consequently, it does not offer the precision of the BMW 5 Series or Jaguar XE when cornering, but few E-Class buyers will care.

AMG versions are hugely fast and capableMercedes-Benz E-Class review - AMG E 63 S Estate, white, rear view, 2020 Available to lease from £347 per month Lease Now

The ride quality is superb, especially on cars wearing 17- and 18-inch alloys, or those equipped with air suspension. There’s also a nice feel to the steering, which is light at town speeds but weights up reassuringly when driving with more vigour.

All models come with an excellent nine-speed automatic transmission, and while the entry-level cars are rear-wheel drive, 4Matic four-wheel drive is available as an option, or as standard on the most premium AMG and All-Terrain models.

Speaking of which, the AMG E53 and E63 S versions do an astonishing job of combining low-speed comfort and refinement with high-speed pomp and circumstance. The throttle response, acceleration, handling and soundtrack work together to create an experience that’s akin to the final act at the Last Night of the Proms. Mind you, with an E63 S estate commanding a six-figure sum, you might expect a good night out.

E-Class All-Terrain puts many SUVs to shameMercedes-Benz E-Class review - All-Terrain, brown, driving off-road, 2020 Available to lease from £347 per month Lease Now

A quick word about the All-Terrain, which pairs a 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel engine with four-wheel-drive to deliver SUV levels of off-road ability. Thanks to air suspension and added ground clearance, it’s the most comfortable E-Class you can buy, even on 20-inch alloy wheels.

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Cost and economy

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class isn’t a cheap car. Prices range from just shy of £40,000 to over £100,000. But with leasing deals starting from around £350 a month, E-Class ownership is surprisingly affordable – providing you don’t get too carried away with options.

If you’re keeping an eye on running costs, the E300 petrol- and diesel-electric hybrid versions offer up to 30 miles of electric range, with CO2 emissions as low as 39g/km. If you plug it in as much as possible, the E300 de diesel will keep you well away from filling stations.

E-Class is surprisingly affordable on pay monthly financeMercedes-Benz E-Class review - Convertible, 2020 Available to lease from £347 per month Lease Now

However, for most people, the 2.0-litre diesel in the E220 d will be the engine of choice. It’s a remarkably good motor, delivering up to a claimed 53.3mpg in the E-Class saloon, yet packing enough poke to go 0-62mph in just 7.3 seconds. It’s also incredibly smooth and refined.

There are other diesel and petrol engines available, including the thunderous 4.0-litre turbo-petrol V8 in the E63 S. This will reach a top speed of 186mph, hitting 62mph in 3.4 seconds along the way. You don’t need me to explain it also comes with fuel economy and associated running costs that are just as ferocious.

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Verdict

There’s so much to praise about the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. It’s a car for all seasons and a car for all reasons. A car for the daily commute, a car for doing lifestyle things at the weekend, a car for venturing off-road, and a car for terrorising sports cars on a track. Still want that SUV?

Such is the breadth of choice, running through the various packs, options and accessories could take an entire morning. You’ll need the rest of the day to understand the array of driver assistance and connected technology on offer.

Does this sound a bit gushing? Perhaps, but once you’ve spent some quality time with an E-Class, you’ll understand the attraction. I’ve experienced the E-Class in most flavours, enjoying everything from an airport taxi-spec diesel to the E63 S. Honestly, money no object, I’d have an E63 S and an All-Terrain Estate in my garage.

Very few cars come close to being the full package, but the Mercedes-Benz E-Class gets closer than most. It’s handsome, timeless, elegant, powerful and efficient. In other words, it’s the kind of Tinder profile you’d swipe right for.

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