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Mercedes-Benz E-class Test Drive Review

Date: 18 March 2016   |   Author: John Mahoney

Category: Executive
P11D price: £38,375
Key rival: BMW 5-series
On sale: May 2016
Equipment: 10 airbags, leather seats, power bootlid, premium sound system, self-parking system, satnav, autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, 19in alloys
Engines: Diesel: 194hp 2.0; 258hp 3.0
Trims: SE, AMG Line
Transmissions: 9-spd auto

Replacing the current E-class can't have been easy for Merc. Not when a stylish new Jaguar XF is nipping at your heels, or a Silicon Valley start-up's technological tour de force is drawing glowing reviews for its futuristic Tesla Model S.

Suddenly, the concept of running an E-class seems very last season. Under immense pressure to not to get it wrong, the German carmaker, against all odds, has managed to come back with a landmark of a car - an executive saloon that includes all the best tech available, makes it simple to use, and wraps it up in a well-made, great-driving vehicle.

Before we discuss the state-of-the-art semi-autonomous driving tech, remote self-parking or astonishing safety kit, let's start where most business users spend a large part of their day: behind the wheel.
For quality, fit, finish and design the new E-class is outstanding from our first impressions of the admittedly high-spec models we drove, and better than all of its rivals by miles.

New for the big saloon is the choice of two optional (£2000), huge 12.3-inch displays that incorporate both the virtual dash and satnav. Instead of touchscreens, they're controlled by either a touchpad between the two front seats or steering wheel controls. It takes getting use to but you're rewarded by crystal clear, configurable displays.

Initially, just two diesel engines will be offered: a 2.0-litre and a 3.0-litre V6. Later on, a 2.0-litre turbo petrol and E350e plug-in hybrid will follow.

Most importantly for business users is the smaller of the two diesels that powers the E220d. Replacing the old, uncouth 2.1-litre diesel, the new engine offers lots of performance (0-62mph in 7.3 seconds) but can average an official 72.4mpg while emitting 102g/km of CO2 if you're prepared to opt for the smaller 17-inch wheels (most won't.)

It's a shame the 2.0-litre diesel isn't quite as smooth as one would hope, considering it's all new, but get used to that and the drive is among the best of the bunch with a well-judged ride clearly biased towards comfort.

Reassuring, for those who cover huge miles, is the fact that the E-class must be one of the safest cars on the market with not only the usual emergency auto braking but optional new airbags that move the driver or passenger's seat away from the danger zone in a side impact.

There's even a standard-fit system that protects your ears from the sound of an impact. It works by blasting a loud noise through the stereo, just before the crash, to trigger a reflex in the ear that causes the in-ear muscles to rapidly contract. This, in turn, protects the eardrum from the explosion when the airbags detonate, or the sound of the impact/glass shattering.

And the new, headline self-driving tech? It was an interesting, if not fool-proof experience that wasn't as relaxing as we'd hoped. You could never quite trust it to spot those white lines and I'm glad Merc requires you to keep your hands on the wheel while it works.

So, the new E-class is good to drive, beats others for its cabin and offers the best tech in the business - however, even all this can't stop the Jaguar XF from retaining its cost per mile crown, although as great as the stylish Brit is, the new E-class is possibly a better all-rounder.

Mercedes E220d AMG Line
Model price range £35,935-£47,425
Residual value 41.2%
Depreciation £22,575
Fuel £4200
Service, maintenance and repair £3478
Vehicle Excise Duty £60
National Insurance £3495
Cost per mile 72.3p
Fuel consumption 65.7mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 112/km (22%)
BIK 20/40% per month £128/256
Warranty 3yrs/unlimited miles
Boot space 540 litres
Engine size/power 1950cc/194hp

Verdict


Misses out for costs but betters rivals in almost every other area
8/10
  • Comfortable
  • Best cabin in class
  • Good to drive
  • Efficient and spacious
  • Semi-autonomous tech not as impressive as we'd hoped
  • Vocal new diesel
  • Shame it looks like a big C-class

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