The latest E-Class is an ultra-luxurious and highly accomplished way of covering lots of miles without fuss
The Mercedes-Benz E 220 d is the most important E-Class on sale in Britain. It’s by far the best-seller, and is the key variant the firm must get right. With this latest model, Mercedes-Benz has done just that.
The latest E-Class at last replaces the long-running 2.1-litre CDI motor with a brand-new 2.0-litre turbodiesel. It’s a big deal. It means the sleek-looking fifth-generation E-Class finally has a mainstream, big-selling engine that can measure up to talented alternatives from Audi and BMW. It takes the E 220 d from a position of weakness to one of real strength.
Mercedes-Benz E 220 d SE
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged diesel
Top speed: 155mph
Gearbox: Nine-speed automatic
Economy: 72.4mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band 129g/km, 20%
The statistics are impressive. It accelerates from 0-62mph in just 7.3 seconds, will do 155mph, yet will also average 72.4mpg. Peak power is a healthy 192bhp and it produces an ample 320lb/ft of torque. Those used to mediocre Merc four-cylinder diesels will do a double-take at these figures.
It’s not the only highlight in the engine range. There is also a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel, an E 43 AMG with a 3.0-litre V6 petrol, plus a clever 2.0-litre petrol hybrid. For now, the E-Class Estate is only available with the 192bhp turbodiesel tested here.
The 2.0-litre diesel is an impressive engine. It idles quietly and is little more audible under part throttle. On the motorway, it’s hushed, helped by a long-legged top gear in its nine-speed automatic transmission. All those gears means early shifts as you accelerate, further minimising noise levels.
The engine is less keen to rev, although it’s quick for an engine of this size – and we were impressed to discover even normal day-to-day driving delivered 55mpg.
We tested the E 220 d in SE trim, which has regular comfort-spec suspension that smothers lumps and bumps admirably. Normal-sized tyres keep road roar manageable and if you like your motoring relaxed and laid back, it’s perfect.
More press-on drivers will be less happy. The 17-inch wheels have modest grip and the steering is a slightly incoherent mix of slow response then aggressive off-centre bite. It doesn’t have much feedback either. There’s not much dynamic flair and it doesn’t respond with any particular alacrity to hurried motoring.
Perhaps that’s why Mercedes-Benz is so keen to emphasise its semi-autonomous Drive Pilot tech. This makes the E-Class even more of a stress-free long-distance cruiser.
The latest E-Class further indulges its occupants with a lovely interior. The upright driving position is spot on, with lots of adjustment. It’s not as sporting as cars such as the Jaguar XF, but this somehow suits the car’s nature.
It’s a pity the fancy twin LCD screens of posher models aren’t fitted to the entry-level SE, though. Garmin sat nav is downright disappointing compared to the widescreen Comand Online on other E-Classes. At least it’s standard. It lacks the leather-covered dashboard of posher variants too, so won’t necessarily blow you away with its tactility.
It does, however, have a real feeling of robustness, that gives you confidence the E-Class could be a machine for life. Not many cars feel as bulletproof as this – it certainly reassures you about the deep-down fit and finish of this solid and expensively-engineered car.
And that’s the clear appeal of the E-Class. It feels like a luxury item, something that sets it apart from the sportier approach of its rivals. For those with lots of miles to cover, who are seeking the most pain-free, feel-good way of doing it, the latest E-Class is hard to beat.