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Mercedes E-class: Test Drive Review

Date: 06 June 2011   |   Author: Tristan Young

Mercedes E-class
Category: Executive
P11D price: £35,530
Key rival: BMW 5-series

Mercedes has added the revised low-CO2 engines first seen in the recently facelifted C-class to the E-class to give the range a sector leader on emissions.

The 2011 model-year 204hp E250 CDI that goes on sale in the UK in June will not only have the lowest CO2 - 129g/km - in the sector for its power, but this class-leading figure is generated in the automatic. In a sector with one of the highest proportions of autos, the next closest to the Mercedes is the Audi A6 3.0 TDI at 133g/km, while BMW is down at 160g/km with the 525d.

The 170hp E220 CDI, which uses the same 2.1-litre diesel engine, has an identical CO2 figure as the E250 CDI and both return 56.7mpg, but the E220 is cheaper to buy.

Going against logic, the less powerful 136hp E200 CDI is also less efficient, and comes in at 134g/km with an auto gearbox. The reason for the least powerful diesel being less eco-friendly than the more powerful, but identically sized, units is older technology used for the injectors.

The E200 CDI is also the noisiest engine in the line-up to drive and not particularly fitting of the prestigious Mercedes badge. The E250 CDI, however, is a much smoother engine and more refined too, if not entirely silent. The greater power means you don't have to work the engine as hard too to make good progress.

But if you think Mercedes' diesel efficiency gains are impressive, the petrol improvements are even better.

Again it's the more powerful engine that has the wow factor. The 306hp 3.5-litre V6 in the E350 drops from 201g/km to just under the higher capital allowance tax band (and back onto a vast number of fleet lists) with a 159g/km CO2 output. Both Audi and BMW's similarly powerful petrol rivals are at 190g/km or higher.

While large-capacity petrol engines are hardly in-favour in the corporate market, there's still a hardcore of senior executives who refuse to switch to diesel. Now the new E350 BlueEfficiency means fleet managers can stick to their 160g/km limit and keep board members happy with a low-emission petrol engine.

The smaller E200 and E250 petrols, using a turbo-charged 1.8-litre engine, also see efficiency improvements to take them to 152g/km and 154g/km respectively, which would have been something to shout about if it weren't for the E350.

The 1.8-litre petrol engines are, however, far more refined than the diesels and don't lack the shove that smaller-capacity petrol engines have traditionally missed when compared with similar power diesel engines. And, again, these more efficient engines may see petrol regain some of its share of the fleet market.

Alongside the engine revisions for the 2011 E-class there have also been some small visual tweaks including new front day-running lights and a colour display for the trip computer area in the central speedo.

Pricing for the new E-class has yet to be finalised but fleets can expect no change over the existing car, married to better equipment levels.

However, the engine changes alone mean the E-class has now got to be the car of choice if you're a user-chooser in the automatic executive sector.

Mercedes E250 CDI 4dr automatic Avantgarde
P11D price£37,500*
Model price range£28,950-£73,500*
Fuel consumption57.6mpg
CO2 (tax) 129g/km (18%)
BIK 20/40% per month£112/£224*
Service intervalvariable
Insurance (1-50)group 37*
Boot space540 litres
Engine size/power2143cc/204hp
Top speed/0-62mph151mph/7.5secs
On sale June 2011
VerdictEngine revisions put
E-class at the front
of the CO2 field


Engine revisions put E-class at the front of the CO2 field