There was a time when Mercedes’ advertising blurb claimed its cars were engineered like no other, and in the case of vehicles like the W124 it was probably true. Those are the days and that is the image that Mercedes would like to evoke with this latest incarnation of the E-class, which Mercedes says is the toughest yet.
This car can be bought in any one of four body styles – saloon, estate, coupé or convertible – and an even bigger range of engines. Badges bear little relation to engine size, but most carry the Bluetec tag, relating to Mercedes’ eco brand. In total there are 10 engines to choose from: five petrols and five diesels. Only the E500s and storming AMG versions do without a bit of blue in their titles.
The E300 BlueTec Hybrid is the most recent addition to the E-class range. It combines the E250CDI's 201bhp diesel with 27bhp electric motor, mounted ahead of the automatic gearbox. The motor is powered by a small 0.8kWh lithium-ion battery charged with energy recuperated when braking. Making an E250CDI into the E300 BlueTec Hybrid has has resulted in a 100kg weight penalty, taking the kerb weigh to 1840kg.
Trim levels are slightly easier to understand, ranging from SE through Avantgarde to Sport, plus the AMGs. The Avantgarde option is dropped in the coupé and convertible models, and in the bigger capacity petrol engined cars.
Ninety per cent of E-classes sold in the UK are powered by diesel engines, with a great many being specced as autos rather than manuals – due in no small part to Mercedes’ insistence on fitting foot-operated parking brakes to their cars.
The estate bucks the trend towards style-orientated lifestyle models, going for out-and-out capacity in line with tradition. Similarly, there’s no folding hard top for the convertible – it sticks with a (well insulated) fabric roof.