e-class-test-drive

Testing out the E-Class Saloon in our search for the best Mercedes-Benz lease deal

This Mercedes has long since been a favourite of business folk putting in the motorway miles for a few reasons; it's sleek, it’s comfortable and it has a presence. If you’re driving an E-Class, people will be jealous, and rightly so. 

In recent years, Mercedes have created a stylish, (slightly flashy) saloon that is a far cry from the boring business car of a decade ago, but can it match the BMW 5 Series? Let's find out... 

e-class-saloon-parked

What did we drive? 

Colour: Obsidian Black Metallic 
Interior: Black Leather 
Transmission: 9G-TRONIC 9-Speed Automatic
Model Line: SE
Wheels: 18 inch 5-Spoke Alloy Wheels (but as of December 2019, unfortunately there isn’t the option to upgrade from the standard 17” alloys). 
Engine: 2.0 litre (1950cc) Diesel
0-62: 7.3 Seconds
BHP: 194
Price: OTR from £38,550

*Prices and model lines correct at the time of publication

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Engines

There’s an almost overwhelming array of options when it comes to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, ranging from the entry-level E220d we drove to the stonking great 4.0 litre, 612bhp producing petrol engine in the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S 4MATIC+.

Like some of the other Mercedes cars, the E-Class range also is available as a hybrid, which combines a 1950cc diesel engine with a 90kw electric motor. The E-Class is only available with a 9-Speed automatic transmission. But trust me, you wouldn't want a manual when the auto is this good. 

e-class-side-profile

Design

As of December 2019, Mercedes have tried to minimise the number of variants within a model line, so essentially there is minimal option to chop and change.

This is all a bit confusing, but where previously you'd be able to spec up an SE, now they provide you with a bit more as standard.

In terms of body styling, the SE is quite minimalist, so if you want to go for something a bit more dominating, you’ll have to go higher up the model line up for something like an AMG Line Night Edition Premium Plus or go for a full-blown Mercedes-AMG E63 for what many people believe is the perfect mix of business and pleasure.

Inside it’s a futuristic mix of open-pore wood, aluminium, chrome and soft-touch finishes.

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The Experience

There’s no doubt about it: the E-Class is a luxurious drive. It’s one up from the C-Class in the model line-up, but more similar to the infamous S-Class in terms of technology, quality and comfort. But this doesn't have an S-Class price tag. 

It’s an effortless car to drive and the 9-Speed gearbox is seamless, with little to no lag when you pull away, as is sometimes the case with automatic transmission.

The agility control suspension means that driving over the majority of road surfaces remains comfortable (maybe don’t try off-roading in this one though). Although it's a big car, it's very easy to manoeuvre and the steering is light and effortless. On the motorway, it's a dream. Power when you need it, but alternatively just put on cruise control and soak up the feeling of being in a car that is at the top of its game. 

It's worth pointing out that if you're going for looks, go for the AMG Line, but if comfort is what you're after, the SE isn't as firm a ride as the AMG Line, and also tends to be a bit more economical - and they all have the same tech.

e-class-screen

Technology and Connectivity

The widescreen cockpit is the star of the show, with a crystal clear display. Now, I loved the display in the BMW X5, but this is even better than that. It just looks incredible.

It isn’t, however, a touchscreen – even though it looks like one. And those moving from a new GLE, or potentially even something much smaller like an A-Class might miss this function.

Variable cruise control is now set via the steering wheel, rather than the lever behind the steering wheel in the old model, which I’m very much happy with. While the steering wheel controls are a little small and fiddly at first, you do very quickly get used to using them.

You can control pretty much everything using the steering wheel, or the touchpad in the centre console. Driver and passenger get heated seats, and there's automatic two-zone climate control, that, alongside a 64-colour ambient lighting system, makes for a very comfortable ambiance indeed. 

e-class-side-boot-space

Space

As with any other car in its class, it’s built for comfortable driving, so room in the front and the rear is ample and inviting.

During our test drive, we swapped over and our camera operator got to take the wheel while I tested out the practicality for passengers. As expected, it’s lovely: plenty of knee room and the seats are firm but not in a way that would be uncomfortable for long journeys. There are three seats, but you can also bring down the centre armrest if you want to put the distance between you and your travel mates! 

For young kids, there are two ISOFIX points on the outer rear seats, and for older kids, there are two USB ports in the back, as well as two in the front. Boot capacity is 540 litres, which is more than you’d get in both the Audi A6 and the BMW 5 Series. Though the design means that the boot opening isn't as big if you're wanting to transport some wider boxes or luggage.

Safety

The E-Class received the highest mark available when tested by NCAP due to its extensive, hi-tech safety features. All models get a mirror and a parking package complete with reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors.

You’ll also get blind spot assist, active parking assist and Eco start/stop function which is a must-have in traffic. As is Attention Assist, which helps alert to long journey fatigue. There’s also high performance LED headlights with integral LED daytime running lamps. It also got Active Braking Assist (formerly collision prevention assist) and also an active bonnet - which is a safety feature that detects an impact and raises the bonnet.

Model Lines

SE

  • 17" Alloys
  • Rain sensor with auto headlight activation
  • LED headlights and brake lights
  • Ambient lighting
  • Mirror Package, Parking Package, Seat Comfort Package
  • 12.3-inch display
  • Cruise Control, variable speed limiter, blind spot assist

AMG Line - Hybrid Only (In addition/replacement to SE)

  • AMG body styling (front and rear apron, side sill panels)
  • Perforated brake discs with 'Mercedes-Benz Lettering)
  • Rear privacy glass
  • ARTICO/DINAMICA upholstery
  • Stainless steel AMG sports pedals
  • AMG floor mats

AMG Line Edition (In addition/replacement to SE) 

  • 19" Alloys in titanium grey
  • Velour floor mats
  • AMG steering wheel in black Nappa leather
  • Black leather upholstery

AMG Line Premium (In addition/replacement to AMG Line)

  • Multibeam LED intelligent lights
  • Memory Package - electronically adjustable memory seats with lumbar support
  • 360-degree camera with AR display to show a real-time image on the multimedia display
  • COMAND Online system
  • Wireless charging

AMG Line Edition Premium (in addition/replacement to AMG Line Edition)

  • Multibeam LED intelligent lights
  • Memory package
  • Wireless charging
  • Parking Package

AMG Line Night Edition Premium Plus (In addition/replacement to AMG Line Edition Premium)

  • Keyless go comfort pack
  • 20" multispoke alloys
  • Exterior mirror housings in high-gloss black
  • Burmester surround sound system

Mercedes-AMG Premium

  • Bi-colour 19" alloys
  • AMG body styling – front apron with distinctive air intakes, AMG side sill panels and AMG rear apron with diffuser look
  • AMG dynamic select driving modes
  • AMG performance exhaust and AMG lettering on front calipers
  • AMG spoiler lip
  • Artico leather steering wheel with red contrast stitching and red seat belts

Mercedes-AMG Premium Plus (53 and 63 models vary) 

This one just really gets you all of the power and all of the toys and whistles such as:

  • AMG RIDE CONTROL sports suspension based on air body control air suspension
  • Floor mats – with black leather edging, red piping and AMG logo
  • Comand Online system with 12.3-inch media display

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