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Car Review

Mercedes-Benz E-Class review

£57,240 - £78,780
710
Published: 13 Dec 2023
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

Floaty and quiet, as you’d expect. And that’s fitted with the steel coil suspension (four-arm fronts, five-link independent rears) that’s the only option on UK cars. Body roll is well controlled and undulations are ironed out with ease. Cobbles didn’t really phase it, and nor did a cratered British country lane. It’s proof that a good passive suspension system is often the right answer.

However, given us Brits love a gimmick and a gadget, it’s odd that Merc’s Airmatic air suspension isn’t available here. Customer research must have shown that take-up would’ve been too small to justify the development costs. Shame, as it’s a good system. Air springs combine with continuously adjustable damping tech and the results are impressive. Perhaps we’re too hooked on big wheels and AMG packs for it to be worth the effort.

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What’s the performance like?

It’s… enough. Not fast, but enough. Provided you don’t ask too much of it because a) you’ve probably already got all it’s giving and b) it makes a nasty noise. You get four powertrains to choose from initially: a mild-hybrid petrol E200 developing 201bhp and 236lb ft, plus the diesel E220 d with 194bhp and 325lb ft. The plug-in hybrid E300 e trumps them both, peaking at 308bhp and 406lb ft, but the most potent version at the moment is the 385bhp/553lb ft E450 d mHEV. Pray a new E63 comes along shortly to put the diesel in its rightful place.

The mHEVs cover 0-62mph in seven-and-a-half seconds (4.8s for the big diesel), the PHEV in 6.4s, and while there’s pace for an overtake all three prefer calm, gentle progress to avoid unduly rousing the four cylinder. We haven’t yet driven the E450 d, but suspect that might have the best manners. The four cylinders are too intrusive even when modestly stretched. It’s the biggest faux pas the E-Class makes.

And exacerbated in the plug-in. Like so many others it sends the revs soaring almost at random, even under light throttle use. And combined with the hesitant nine-speed auto, it’s not the smoothest thing we’ve ever driven. Odd, since we’ve been impressed by this same powertrain in the C-Class.

The less said about the brakes, the better: there is no feel in the pedal travel at all, making it hard to be consistent coming up to junctions and roundabouts. A common Mercedes oddity, that. We’re surprised they’re still not on top of it.

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Any good round corners?

Yes, actually. As mentioned, the E-Class is in no hurry to be hurried, but if you do happen to give it some beans then it’ll find a surprising amount of grip. The steering isn’t the last word in tactility, and has precious little feedback, but does at least follow your inputs faithfully. Good news for when AMG eventually gets its hands on it.

It won’t shock you to learn that the simple petrol feels the most agile, tipping the scales at 1,825kg. The plug-in is an oaf in comparison, weighing almost 400kg more. That this extra weight hasn’t undone the dynamics is a testament to the inherent rightness of the suspension set-up.

What’s best for fuel economy?

We’d argue the entry-level petrol is the sweet spot in the line-up: its placid nature suits the E-Class and we saw 36.2mpg against WLTP figures of 44.2mpg (146g/km). The diesel is the one you want for crossing continents: officially it’ll do 58.9mpg, and with a 66-litre fuel tank that’s a theoretical range of over 850 miles. Or London to Nice without filling up.

Laughably the PHEV does what all PHEVs do and claims a bonkers number: 565mpg. That all depends on how diligent you are with your plugging in as the figures are ballooned by the 62 miles of electric range it claims from its 25.4kWh battery. Count on 50-55 miles in the real world. Those company-car drivers will be thrilled.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

E200 AMG Line Advanced 5dr 9G-Tronic
  • 0-627.8s
  • CO2
  • BHP201.2
  • MPG
  • Price£60,485

the cheapest

E200 AMG Line 5dr 9G-Tronic
  • 0-627.8s
  • CO2
  • BHP201.2
  • MPG
  • Price£57,240

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