Our Fleet Test Drive: Mercedes E-class - Final Report
09 September 2010
|P11D price:|| £32,545|
|Key rival:|| BMW 5-series|
We covered more than 10,000 miles in six months with the Mercedes E-class with just the one complaint - which to be honest was my own fault.
That's because I was sucked in by the launch talk that the latest generation of Merc's executive transport would enjoy a richer mix of manual gearboxes than it has historically. In the past, I've always been impressed with the prestige German company's prowess with automatics and disappointed by pretty much every manual Mercedes I've sampled, and this car hasn't changed my opinion . My problem is with first and second gears. It's not a particularly pleasant shift and the ratios appear to be set so the early gears run out of puff way too quickly. Many times I ended up near the top of the rev range needing to change up a gear surprisingly quickly. In summary, taking the financial, emissions and economy hit of the automatic is a wise move.
Gear issues aside, the E-class got better and better as I spent longer with it, discovering various innovations and touches that made daily life easier. From the hold function where one prod of the brake pedal saves reaching for the handbrake at traffic lights to the user-friendly audio and navigation systems and a button that drop the rear headrests  to their lowest position after rear passengers have raised them, there are lots of little touches that add up to a really satisfying ownership experience.
It started out satisfying, too, with a collection from Mercedes-Benz World in Surrey, where I received the full treatment given to anyone ordering a car from the giant centre, including the car being unveiled from beneath a sheet on my arrival in the handover area . The most comprehensive walk-round anyone could need followed, where the car's many useful features were revealed.
Fuel economy averaged 39.0mpg over the 10,740 miles, although that increased to 43.4mpg across the last 10 fills. Maybe it takes more than 6000 miles before everything is fully run in, as the difference was noticeable despite there be no change in type of driving. With a few more fills, beating the 40.9mpg official figure would have been a realistic aim.
Trips to Torquay and Yorkshire showed off the car's long-distance prowess, while a 3000-mile trip round Scotland revealed that while the BMW 5-series or Jaguar XF may offer a touch more driving pleasure on the right road, the extra comfort of the Mercedes means it's the best all-rounder in the executive saloon class. I couldn't have asked for any more from my E250 CDI - except maybe an automatic gearbox.
|Mercedes E250 CDI Cabrio Sport|
|Our average consumption||39.0mpg|
|Positive||Classy looks, ride, space|
|Negative||Early fuel economy, |