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Car Review

Mercedes-Benz E-Class review

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


What is it like on the inside?

It’s quite flashy in here, in that unique Mercedes way that looks – and feels – expensive but not terribly elegant. Do you know what we mean? The silver finish on several elements is a bit chintzy for our liking and when you kill the ignition you’re left with a collage of fingerprints across the massive glass panel. No least because there’s nowhere to brace your other fingers while prodding. Hardly luxurious. More likely to have you reaching for the Mr Muscle.

Lit up, especially at night, it looks fabulous when you get in, but quickly becomes irritating on the move. As in so many other cars, you find yourself relying on the driver assistance systems, so you can figure out what the hell is going on in the touchscreen. Not luxurious.

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Meanwhile the last surviving buttons have been deleted in favour of haptic steering wheel touchpads, which either don’t do what you want or do what you don’t want when you don’t want it. These are beyond frustrating. They colour your experience of the whole car.

How’s the rest of the driving environment?

Gone is the quartet of vents in the middle of the dash, replaced by a sleek band that wraps over the top of the screens. Meanwhile, the centre console no longer rises up to meet the dash, so it does feel less cluttered in here.

The driving position is good, the seats are very comfortable even after hours at the wheel. It’s a pity you can’t unbolt them when you get home and stick them in front of the telly. Do you care about visibility? Let’s assume you do. The view out the mirrors is okay but no more than that. Luckily Mercedes makes up for this with an armada of cameras and sensors to track potential dangers.

Let’s get back to the tech.

It’s incredible. Integrated 5G conference calling, power-operated vents, real-time nav graphic overlays, ambient lighting that beats in time with your music… Angry Birds (nope, not kidding). Not to mention active steering that can change lanes and overtake for you with a single press of the indicator stalk.

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But when you’ve got so much going on to distract you, that’s hardly in keeping with a car that’s supposed to take the stress out of driving. And it’s not like the systems work beautifully. For instance the lane keep isn’t as good as BMW’s (although it is significantly better than Land Rover’s…).

Anything else to get off your chest?

Yes. The column stalks feel cheap and nasty. How on earth did such flimsy parts make the cut? Pull down into D and it feels like the right hand stalk might snap off.

And breathe. Is it roomy?

Very much so. The E-Class is 40mm longer and 22mm wider than before, while the wheelbase has grown by 22mm also. That means more space inside for torsos, limbs and extremities, though it’s a four-seater only for adults: you might squeeze a child into the middle back seat if you have to. Although they’ll only whine about the transmission tunnel.

At 540 litres the boot is exactly the same size as the old-gen car, but be warned about the PHEV: the higher floor means there’s just 370 litres to play with and even the fuel tank shrinks by 16 litres to make way for the battery. This is the price you pay for silent commuting.

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