Latest report: Mercedes E-Class long-term test
12 June 2018
Author: Rachel Boagey
Is Mercedes' new E-Class estate the key to winning over customers who are spoilt for choice?
|Mercedes-Benz 220 d 4MATIC AMG Line Estate |
|P11D price £42,600|
|As tested £50,225|
|Official consumption 54.3mpg|
|Our average consumption 42.2mpg|
8th report - The gift that keeps on giving
If there was one phrase we would use on the BusinessCar editorial team to describe the E-Class, it would be 'the gift that keeps on giving'. We say 'gift' because it's a press loan and, unfortunately, soon enough it will have to be returned to Mercedes' press office, much to our disappointment. The reason it keeps on giving is because a few nice surprises have presented themselves several months into our stewardship that were not obvious before. In a previous report, we spoke about the class-leading boot, which extends to offer a massive 1,820 litres of storage space. But on closer inspection, this is even more impressive than previously thought. Press the button to release the boot floor and not only are you presented with a large extra compartment, but take a closer look and you will find plastic fold-out carry crate for carrying your paperwork or loose items back to the house when you have your hands full after a long day of work.
Talking of having your hands full, the hands-free tailgate is a lifesaver and you can operate it easily by simply waving your foot underneath the left-hand side of the boot.
Another useful touch is the electrically operated steering column, which allows you to move the wheel forward and backward, and up and down to find a suitable driving position.
The parcel cover has a pull-out net section and the load cover section all in one, which makes it easier to fit and remove quickly. The load cover also slides up and down automatically when you shut and open the boot door, making sure you always have your personal belongings covered when you lock the car. The middle rear seat also pulls down to provide two cup holders and an extra hidden cubby space for storage. And if you've been on driving duties and rear passengers have left their headrests up and in your way when you're trying to reverse, have no fear. A thoughtful button near the infotainment toggle can be pressed to automatically lower all of the rear headrests.
Mercedes really has pulled out all the stops when it comes to practicality and cool features with this car. We really think it helps define it as a viable company car choice among its other estate rivals.
7th report - Blindspot woes
The height of the driver - or lack thereof - isn't as much of an issue in the cars of today as it used to be.
For many under the 5ft mark, when it was once was a challenge to see over the steering wheel and reach the pedals, it is now just a case of pressing a few buttons to raise the seat to its highest setting, not to mention moving it right forward. The E-Class has plenty more adjustment options where that came from.
The driver and passenger seats can be operated by some really simple, but stylish-looking buttons on the door panel above the door handles and from there, you can even electrically adjust the height of your headrest. Look down to the side of your seat and you can also change the lumbar options.
Despite all of the adjustment potential for the seats, however, a problem that has started to become apparent is the chunky A-pillars. These mean that visibility at junctions becomes quite poor when the seat is, by necessity, quite close to the steering wheel. Due to this forward position of the seat, the steering wheel is also in the way of a good proportion of the infotainment screen, even when pushed quite far back towards the dash using a lever on the side of the wheel. This is very annoying when you're trying to use the screen for sat-nav directions.
Luckily, rear visibility isn't so much of a problem, probably necessary when the car is close to 5m long, and, with the E-Class's incredibly impressive standard reverse camera, any issues in this department are well and truly solved.
It's by far the best reversing camera I've ever used and, thanks to the 12.3in screen which is part of the upgraded Comand Online system for £1,495, the view behind you is so clear you almost forget how you ever reversed without it.
6th report - Time to shine
It was getting late and I was ready to return to London from a weekend away with friends. When I started the engine and began waving goodbye, my friends began pointing at the front of my car. Confused, I jumped out, only to discover I didn't have a headlight out and, luckily, I hadn't hit anything either. In fact, they were all pointing at the Mercedes' headlights.
For context, none of the people doing the pointing know very much about cars, nor do they regularly show any interest in them, so it was surprising for me that they took a liking to this.
The headlights aren't standard, but part of the optional Premium Plus package fitted to our car. Upgraded from the standard LED high-performance headlights, the multibeam LED intelligent light system gives the illusion that the lights are dancing when the car is locked and unlocked.
It's not just a pretty feature, though - the LED headlamps each come with 84 individually controlled high-performance LEDs and automatically illuminate the road without dazzling other road users. That's because this grid allows the light distribution of the left and right headlamps to be controlled separately, and adapted to the changing situation on the road quickly and dynamically. Impressive, hey?
Now to the tail lights, which look like they have been filled with glitter. Apparently known as LED 'stardust' lamps, they're quite clever in that they give the rather large estate an elegant appearance and the wrap-around effect pays a nice tribute to the E-Class lineage.
In my opinion, the allure in the exterior lighting of the E-Class, even to those with no interest in cars, is a sign that Mercedes has done something right, and goes one step further in convincing me that the optional £3,895 Premium Plus package is an investment
5th report - A little on the large side
"I'm not sure it's going to fit on the drive," shouted my mum from the front door, as the parking sensors belted out what sounded like Beethoven's Third while the tail-end of the car was still poking out of the gateposts.
At a length of 4,933mm, the E-Class is not on the small side when it comes to estates, and fitting in short driveways and parking spaces isn't easy. But with size comes practicality. Opening the electronically operated boot, which is standard on all models, you are greeted by a 640-litre load bay, more than you'll find in main rivals, including the Volvo V90, BMW 5 Series Touring and Audi A6 Avant.
The rear seats split 40:20:40 as standard, and with them down, this class-leading boot increases to offer 1,820 litres of storage, with easy and flexible load-carrying capacity. This proved enough room for two cabin-sized suitcases and lots of other large bags when heading to the Cotswolds for the weekend. There was even enough room for the dog.
I also managed to get a full-sized bike in the boot with the seats lowered without having to worry about taking its wheel off, which will be perfect for those summer rides around Richmond Park.
Ultimately, how you rate the spaciousness of an E-Class estate depends on which section of it you're examining. In the front, even my partner who is 5ft 9in finds headroom a little tight, and although legroom is not so much of an issue, a V90 is bigger still in this department.
Move to the back and headroom isn't the issue, but now legroom is slightly disappointing with a lack of underseat foot space, which, again, is not a problem in
On the positive side, the E-Class is not short of storage options. A large bottle of water will fit in the door bins and the glovebox is a decent size. The compartment next to the automatic gearbox can be hidden away to blend into the attractive design, but when you press the button you find a nicely laid out compartment with a space specifically designed for your Mercedes key and a coin tray, along with room for some travel snacks.
There's another cubbyhole a bit further back, which houses two USB ports to charge your phone en route and a pair of cup holders under a sliding lid that fit two medium-sized bottles of water, all elements which make the E-Class the perfect car for a road trip.
4th report - Putting efficiency to the test
The new 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine in the 220 d came about as a result of Mercedes aiming to boost the efficiency of the car, and it has matched it to a refined nine-speed shifter of gears, which is also a significant contributor to its potential fuel economy.
To test this efficiency, I've been having a play with the dynamic toggle near the gearstick, and have left it in economy mode for the past 1,000 miles to see how its figures stack up to those claimed by the manufacturer.
Apparently, the official consumption of its new and efficient engine is an impressive 54.3mpg. But having driven it now for over 6.000 miles, it is clear that, as to be expected, it's not quite hitting the mark.
On my most recent fill-up, just after a 180-mile drive from south London to a bank holiday getaway in Bruges using the ferry, the indicated mileage was 41.7mpg.
Crunching the numbers, that means the actual fuel economy reached only around the 37.6mpg mark for the Bruges journey. Not too bad, considering I wasn't necessarily driving with fuel economy in mind, but more with a 'get me there' motive. In fact, it got me there and back with more than half left in a previously full tank. Overall, it's been averaging around 420 miles before needing to head for the nearest forecourt.
CO2 emissions of the 137g/km engine place the estate in the 27% BIK tax band, bearing in mind a BIK penalty for four-wheel capabilities. This would cost a 20% payer £262 a month for the 2017-18 year.
On the motorway, which is where I spent most of my time behind the wheel on this trip, and where I spend it in general, the car thankfully makes an excellent cruiser and its efficiency, while not exactly what is promised by Mercedes, could be far worse.
3rd report - Snow business
We all know that when the UK gets snow, it doesn't really have the infrastructure to cope with it.
A planned morning trip to the Geneva Motor Show was left in doubt when the quickest way to get to Gatwick Airport was via trains, which were all, predictably, cancelled.
The E-Class it was then, and away I drove after de-icing the windscreen and removing about 4in of snow from
Whether it's to do with the UK winters or not, a steadily increasing number of people are choosing all-wheel drive as an option on new cars.
The E-Class comes with a 4MATIC four-wheel drive system, which apparently offers greater traction, driving dynamics and stability in all
While this addition penalises you with a 3% higher BIK rate than the two-wheel drive car, it wasn't long into the icy drive before I discovered that the benefits on the road outweigh the economy sacrifice.
Grip levels were impressive and bends were tackled easily - a welcome discovery on this particular morning.
The E 220 d features an all-aluminium four-cylinder diesel engine, which so far has been smooth and quiet, and pulls strongly from around 1,500rpm - not that I got up to that in the snow.
The standard nine-speed automatic gearbox kicks down promptly when you floor the accelerator - I wasn't aiming on doing that either, until I realised how long it had taken me to drive 15 miles. Given that it's just as frugal as the entry-level E 200 d and barely any more expensive, it'd be our top engine choice, too.
2nd report - Quirky additions
One of the best things about driving an executive car is that every time you jump in it you're likely to discover something new.
The car lacks much of the safety tech you would expect of a car of this price such as lane departure warning to name just one, so we opted for £3895 worth of additional kit, also known as Mercedes' premium plus package. The package includes a number of additions to make the already luxurious interior even more special.
First up is the glass panoramic sunroof, which is a really notable addition, and makes a big difference, opening up the otherwise dark leather cabin.
Next comes a powered tailgate meaning that you can open the boot door with the key by pressing and holding in a button on the key. Keyless entry is also included which really comes in handy when you have your hands too full to look for your key in your bag.
One of the most useful features isn't necessarily anything out of this world but simply a memory package for the seats - super useful at my height if anyone above 5ft drives the car. The passenger seat is also electrically operated which is a worthwhile addition.
The Burmester surround sound system is also included in the package and makes it worth the extra dosh. The system includes 13 high-quality speakers and two digital amplifiers, which fill the cabin with pure surround sound - not a bad addition for all those boring motorway miles I've been racking up.
However my favourite feature, one which isn't the most popular with everyone in the industry - is the ambient lighting. Okay, I understand, it's a bit tacky. It also reminds me of when I'd just passed my driving test at the age of 17 and insisted on buying some interior stick on LED lights for my 2002 Ford KA, ouch.
But in a car such as the E-Class it doesn't look too bad and always leads to positive comments from passengers, especially when it turns red when they turn their heat up or blue when they turn it down. Endless fun!
By Rachel Boagey
Our average consumption 44.1mpg
Total mileage 3124
1st report - A winter companion
The E-Class's heritage dates back to the very early days of the brand. For more than 50 years now, Mercedes has been blending luxury and practicality with its large estate model badged as (you guessed it) the E-Class Estate.
Despite its presence and popularity in the large executive estate class at various times in the past, today, estate buyers are spoilt for choice, with rivals like the BMW 5 Series Touring, Volvo V90 and Audi A6 Avant all elbowing their way in to reserve their spot on the fleet.
Just like Mercedes' E-Class Saloon, the estate aims to win you over with its smooth, comfortable ride and attractive interior.
Unlike the saloon though, the Estate provides ample room for lugging a whole family's worth of Christmas presents without squashing the satsumas - a whopping 1,820 litres of storage with the rear seats down and a generous 640 litres with the seats up - one of the largest load compartments in the segment.
Everyone loves new-car day, but we were thrilled to welcome the newest E-Class estate to the BusinessCar pack just before the holidays, so we can judge whether it is the one to watch or if it will instead blend in like a sausage roll in a beige Christmas buffet.
For starters, the E220d certainly looks the part, thanks to its high-performance LED headlights with matching daytime running lights, slick streamlined body, 19in alloys and a distinctive grille. The Obsidian Black metallic paint may put me on the radar of the local police force, but it does make the large dimensions of the car less noticeable.
Under the bonnet, our car comes with the four-cylinder 2.0-litre 194hp diesel engine, which had its premiere in the E-Class Saloon in 2016. Mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, the car can do the 0-62mph sprint in 7.8 seconds. The engine can deliver a combined 54.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 137g/km.
On faster roads and motorways on the way to Windsor for a day out, I was pleased to discover that the acceleration through the gears is fast but seamless, and the engine at high speeds is extremely quiet and refined.
The Dynamic Select option, which you change by moving a lever near the gearstick, allows drivers to choose from Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual driving modes, all of which offer a very different feel and driving style. I've been running it mostly in comfort mode so far, as it has been helping me over various potholes and cracks that have appeared due to the winter temperatures.
"The estate aims to win you over with its smooth, comfortable ride and attractive interior."
The drive is enhanced by Mercedes' 4MATIC four-wheel drive, which aims to rival the likes of Audi's Quattro and BMW's xDrive technology, so we're looking forward to testing the car on some rougher roads to give it a proper run for its money.
Inside, the top of the two available trims, the AMG Line, provides all you'd expect in terms of premium quality materials and soft-touch bits and bobs. Standard equipment is a bit of a head-scratcher, though; there is safety equipment, such as a reversing camera and adaptive brake lights, cruise control with variable speed-limiter, and active brake assist but its missing some key tech such as lane-departure warning, which is standard on far cheaper cars such as my previous long-termer Honda Civic.
Although the P11D of this model is £42,600, our test car has some additional kit that ramps up the price to £50,225. This includes Mercedes' Premium Plus package for £3,895, which offers keyless-go, a memory package with electrically operated front seats, a panoramic glass sunroof, Burmester surround sound system and a Multibeam LED intelligent light system. The Comand online system, which includes a 12.3-inch infotainment display and concierge service, is also thrown in. Other additions include a 12.3in widescreen cockpit display for £495 and that Obsidian Black metallic paint I was talking about, for £685.
Despite some confusion in the tech arena, the car feels and looks like an all-rounder in terms of quality and refinement, and driving it so far has been a pleasure. We're looking forward to finding out if Mercedes' new estate can continue to impress us in the next six months of our custodianship.