Review: Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2016)

Rating:

Beautiful cabin design and quality. Lovely high-speed refinement. Very quiet and staggeringly efficient four-cylinder diesel. Futuristic equipment and more spacious than ever

Lots of safety kit and tech is on the options list, Best-riding air suspension a high-priced option. COMAND system still clunky.

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Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2016): At A Glance

This Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the most sophisticated car the German brand has ever made. More a shrunken S-Class than an inflated C-Class, the four-door executive saloon has had the very best from the Mercedes-Benz technology and safety catalogue thrown at it.

The result is a new class leader, a car more refined, of higher quality and significantly more luxurious than the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series with which it competes.

You’d expect this to come at a high cost and initially it seems that way - the E-Class is priced higher at the base point than the aforementioned direct rivals. However, they both offer a wider range than the E-Class, starting with lower-powered, less well-equipped base models. The E-Class, in the UK, initially has just two engines and two trim levels.

The superstar is undoubtedly the basic E220 d model, powered by a four-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel engine that boasts an official 72.4mpg with 102g/km (on 17-inch wheels). That would be impressive even if the engine clattered like the generator at a budget camp site, but the fact the E220 d is actually quite pacey and extremely composed makes it a remarkable feat of engineering. It’s a board level car with factory floor running costs.

But if more pace is required, the six-cylinder diesel in the E350 d offers huge low-rev pickup, with a 5.9-second sprint to 62mph and a genuinely pleasing six-cylinder thrum.

Generously equipped across its two trim levels, SE and AMG Line, the basics you'd expect like navigation, climate control, Bluetooth, a leather-type interior, a nine-speed automatic gearbox, LED headlamps and radar cruise control are all present and correct. It’s a shame, though, that the stuff that really takes the E-Class into the luxury car stratosphere is left on the options list.

That includes a twin-screen panoramic display, which places two 12.3-inch HD widescreens side by side, and a function that allows the owner to remotely un-park the car from a garage (or wherever) using a smartphone app – an app that also means your phone becomes your car key. 

What does a Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2016) cost?

List Price from £38,150
Buy new from £28,252
Contract hire from £298.02 per month
Get a finance quote with CarMoney

Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2016): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4923–4993 mm
Width 2065 mm
Height 1447–1481 mm
Wheelbase 2939 mm

Full specifications

As well as the usual saloon suspects, the E-Class these days competes with a host of premium SUVs, all of which offer a superior sense of space and practicality by virtue of their basic square bulk. In that company the modern E-Class doesn’t feel quite as majestic or practical as it used to – occupants sit low beneath a relatively low roofline and the separate boot isn’t as flexible.

That said, the E-Class packs a considerable amount of space into a body that’s slightly longer and has a bigger wheelbase than its predecessor. There’s plenty of rear legroom and the combination of S-Class derived design and excellent body control (one of the benefits of not being a high-riding SUV) means the E-Class does feel opulent.

At 540 litres, the E-Class’s boot is 20 litres bigger than that of the BMW 5 Series, though the wheelbase is shorter. An area where the E-Class absolutely trounces its German nemesis, though, is in cabin ambiance. Subjective, yes, but this is Mercedes-Benz back to its best.

You may criticise the designers for making the cabin virtually indistinguishable from the S-Class, but as the S-Class boasts one of the world’s great limousine interiors, it’s no bad thing. There are dozens of colour and trim combinations to choose from – some more successful than others, granted – but the quality is exceptional. The interior lighting is a highlight, although the indecisive will be aghast when confronted with its 64-strong choice of colours.

Unfortunately, some of what’s best about the interior is left to the options list, like a high-end Burmester stereo that not only offers surround sound and a huge range of tonal customization, but adds a pair of theatrical motored aluminium speakers to the door pillars, which twist outwards when the starter button is pressed.

More disappointing, however, is that the E-Class interior party piece, its panoramic twin screen display, is optional too. Featuring two HD widescreens at 12.3-inch in size, housed in a shared casing, it replaces the traditional instrument binnacle and floods the driver with clear, well-presented information.

If the setup has a weakness it’s that the graphics are occasionally naff and the COMAND rotary control system, as refined as its been since its clunky first outings, is still a fundamentally flawed way of navigating the screens – like drawing with an Etch-A-Sketch when really you just want to put a pencil to the screen itself.

Equipment

SE standard specification includes Garmin Map Pilot navigation system with 8.4-inch display, Parktronic parking sensors with reversing camera and Park Pilot self-parking system; Collision Prevention Assist Plus autonomous emergency braking system, Pre-Safe anticipatory safety system (including Pre-Safe Sound, which helps prevent damage to hearing), 64-colour selectable LED interior lighting, two-zone automatic climate control, three-spoke multifunction steering wheel with dual touchpads, leather upholstery with heated front seats, LED headlights and taillights; electrically folding mirrors and 17-inch wheels (18-inch on the E 350 d).

AMG Line models come with AMG exterior styling including unique bumpers and side skirts, 19-inch alloy wheels, perforated front brake discs, three-spoke AMG steering wheel, and Artico leather and Dynamica microfiber upholstery with seat comfort package.

E 350 d models come with Air Body Control multi-chamber air suspension as standard, as well as COMAND satellite navigation with 12.3-inch display and remote online services.

Child seats that fit a Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2016)

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What's the Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2016) like to drive?

As usual, the best-riding E-Class models will be the ones sitting on expensive adaptable Airmatic air suspension, although UK cars come with a lowered ‘comfort’ steel-sprung setup.

Also as usual, wheel choice affects the ride quality and the CO2 output, both becoming slightly harsher – best stay on standard 17-inch wheels for 102g/km and the smoothest driving experience.

It really is extremely smooth, though. The E-Class feels built for the motorway, with a superbly supple ride yet a distinct lack of ‘bounce’ at higher speeds, as can sometimes be the case with quite softly sprung cars. Both the 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine in the 220 d and the V6 diesel in the 350 d are near silent at 70-80mph, both settling at well under 2000rpm – the benefit of a nine-speed automatic gearbox.

The E-Class is, of course, rear-wheel drive and has an innate balance as such, but Mercedes-Benz has wisely opted to focus on comfort rather than competing like-for-like with the known dynamism of the BMW 5 Series. As such, the steering is light and lacks sharpness. Even in selectable Sport mode, which firms things up, there’s a distinct feeling that the E-Class doesn’t really want to be driven hard.

That's no big deal, because both the 220 d and 350 d still powerfully accomplish overtaking duties, with the latter positively rapid (0-62mph in 5.9 seconds) and the former miraculously punchy given its parsimony: 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds and 72.4mpg should be mutually exclusive numbers, especially in a car this large and plush.

The remarkable 220 d economy takes the shine off the 350 d, though 54.2mpg combined is still a very impressive return. Both get their efficiency in part from Mercedes-Benz stripping weight from the car to the extent that it’s around 100kg lighter than its predecessor.

But the company has not held back on equipment, with the E-Class boasting some deeply impressive safety and luxury features. Creature comforts include much of what’s found in the S-Class, including ‘active’ chairs that inflate the bolsters on demand during cornering for additional security, and a massage function. Full LED headlights are standard too, serving as both safety and comfort feature by better illuminating the road, reducing eye strain.

But it’s the big step towards autonomous driving that really makes this E-Class feel cutting-edge. A self-parking feature is standard, but that’s old hat now – Skoda offers it – but taking the concept further, download an app and you can use your smartphone to remotely drive the car from your garage. That’s optional but very clever all the same. Your phone can become your car key too.

Going further (literally), a system called Drive Pilot will not only steer the car in lane on a motorway, brake to a standstill of necessary and maintain a set distance from the car in front, flick on the indicator and it will change lanes for you. That said, presently UK law means the system operates in a legal grey area, so at launch it’s disabled on UK cars.

Alongside the E-Class’s fundamental luxuriousness it’s systems like this and myriad safety features including a steering assist that helps avoid a post-swerve tank-slapper, that make it the most reassuring executive saloon on the market. 

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
AMG E 43 34 mpg 4.6 s 192 g/km
AMG E 44 34 mpg 4.6 s 192 g/km
AMG E 45 34 mpg 4.6 s 192 g/km
AMG E 53 33 mpg 4.5 s 200 g/km
AMG E 63 26–31 mpg 3.5 s 207 g/km
AMG E 63 S 26–31 mpg 3.4 s 207 g/km
E 200 Automatic 39–42 mpg 7.7 s 153–164 g/km
E 200 d Automatic 66–72 mpg 8.4 s 102–112 g/km
E 220 d 4Matic Automatic 55 mpg 7.5 s 117–135 g/km
E 220 d Automatic 59–66 mpg 7.3 s 102–129 g/km
E 300 de 59–61 mpg 5.9 s 41 g/km
E 300 e - - 46 g/km
E 350 d 4Matic Automatic 45 mpg 5.9 s 167 g/km
E 350 d Automatic 49–54 mpg 5.9 s 136–144 g/km
E 350 e - 6.2 s 49–57 g/km
E 400 d 4Matic Automatic 47 mpg 4.9 s 154–157 g/km
E 450 4Matic Automatic - - 196 g/km

Real MPG average for a Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2016)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

77%

Real MPG

22–67 mpg

MPGs submitted

145

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2016)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What should I replace my ageing Mercedes-Benz E-Class with?

I presently have an E Class E320 CDI sport auto. I love it but it's a 2007 reg and has done 82,000 miles. What should I replace it with?
The obvious choice is another E-Class. The current model is a lovely car, although it's fairly big. Many buyers are now moving towards SUVs - you could also look the Mercedes-Benz GLC or GLE. I'd also recommend visiting a Volvo dealer - most of their range is very good, especially SUVs like the XC40 and XC60.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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