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Mercedes' latest CO2 lowering trick with the E-class is not that innovative at all - fit it with a manual gearbox.
This sounds simple and obvious, but only 2% of the old E-class estate sold with a stick-shift gearbox, all the rest were automatics. Mercedes expects this split to rise to 10% at least, and is hoping this will be much higher.
A glance at the stats soon shows the business case for choosing the manual - emissions of 150g/km for this 250CDI are considerably better than any of the Mercedes' opposition.
The rival Audi A6 Avant only manages to get down to 164g/km, while the BMW 525d Touring lags even further behind at 171g/km, meaning the Mercedes is the only one that fits into the lower capital allowance tax band.
The other area where the E-class estate comfortably outperforms its rivals is in the back. The boot offers a generous 695 litres of capacity when the seats are up, but drop them and this rises to an incredible 1950 litres. Audi, BMW and Volvo rivals are all around 300 litres smaller on the maximum figure.
As well as offering a huge load capacity, the boot is full of little touches that the modern estate buyer is coming to expect from a premium manufacturer. There is a multi-level boot floor with a large under-floor section, a button that drops the rear seats with one touch, and a piece of canvas that folds out to protect the tailgate from scratches during loading and unloading. All E-class estates also offer a powered boot lid as standard.
The E-class estate also has one other trick in its boot. About 40% of buyers are expected to pay £1500 for the seven-seat option.
The two rear-facing seats are only appropriate for children up to 140cm tall, but should still take the appropriate childseats, as required by law. They reduce the amount of storage on offer in the rear as they take out the under-floor space, but the versatility will add appeal.
The family side of the E-class also shows itself in the comfort levels it offers. It offered a smooth ride on the mixed selection of roads on our test route.
Users opting for the more efficient manual gearbox will suffer little in the driving experience, for the efficiency gains. It is not always the smoothest of boxes, and is not keen on swift gearchanges but it is more than capable for everyday and town driving.
The 220CDI and the 250CDI offer identical economy figures, but the 250CDI is well worth the additional premium, which is expected to be around the £1500 mark. The extra power and acceleration make it the user-chooser pick of the range.
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