What is it?

This is the new Mercedes E250 CDI SE BlueEfficiency, the big-selling version of the new E-class. It is the one car Mercedes has traditionally relied upon to boost its bottom line. But after more than a decade of niggling quality problems, the E-class’s once-glittering image has become somewhat tarnished.

No surprise, then, that Mercedes is talking up the perceived robustness of the new model – the W212 as it is known internally – describing it has the toughest E-class of all time. It is a bold claim.

Diesel engines traditionally make up 90 per cent of E-class sales in the UK, so it is the 201bhp twin-turbo E250 CDI SE BlueEfficiency, the most powerful of the two 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesels in the E-class range, that we test here.

What’s it like?

The Mercedes E250 CDI SE BlueEfficiency could never really be described as a performance car. Still, with a 0-62mph time of 7.2sec (auto), it is encouragingly quick off the line and, with a prodigious 368lb ft of torque arriving at just 1600rpm, gathers speed with enthusiasm.

Once the initial rush subsides, the E250 CDI SE BlueEfficiency settles into its stride with a less frantic – but still convincing – degree of shove all the way to the 5000rpm red line.

For all this, the E250 CDI’s best work is done while cruising on part throttle. At a constant 75mph, the E250 CDI is barely pulling 2000rpm in fifth gear. And it does this while returning a claimed 47.1mpg in automatic guise which, in turn, provides it with CO2 emissions of 159g/km.

There is, however, a curious weak point in the E250 CDI’s driveline. Mercedes has decided, presumably for cost reasons, to provide all four-cylinder diesel versions of the new E-class with its old five-speed automatic gearbox.

It is an odd move, given the clear focus placed on fuel economy and emissions with the new car. It ultimately fails to operate in quite the same crisp and intuitive fashion as the more modern seven-speed automatic offered on other E-class models.

The Mercedes E250 CDI SE BlueEfficiency is a big car, weighing all of 1660kg, but it feels much smaller on challenging roads. It is not quite as agile as the smaller and lighter C-class, but there is not much separating them.

The new E-class also boasts enhanced low-speed manoeuvrability. The variable-ratio steering reduces the amount of lock required around town by almost 15 per cent, and the turning circle has been cut by almost 15cm.

But what about the E-class’s legendary ride? A final appraisal will have to wait until we get to drive the new E-class in the UK, but over the Spanish roads we tested it on there was sufficient evidence to suggest the new suspension, with an extra 5mm of spring travel both front and rear, is at least as cosseting as that of the old model.

The truly impressive thing about the new E-class, though, is the way it isolates its occupants from the outside world. Mercedes has worked hard on aerodynamics and insulation. Indeed, with a drag co-efficient of 0.25 and a specially developed film integrated within the windscreen designed to keep wind buffeting to a minimum, it cruises in a serene and unruffled manner.

The mechanical aspects of the E250 CDI SE BlueEfficiency are equally impressive. The engine is barely audible on part-throttle, with typical diesel chatter only evident under hard acceleration.

For those who have spent any time in a recent Mercedes, the dashboard architecture, steering wheel design and general organisation of the secondary controls instantly feel familiar.

Take time to study the individual elements, though, and you discover there is sufficient differentiation to ensure the E-class gets a truly unique interior, even though the materials are not quite to the standard of some rivals.

Access to the rear has been improved by raising the roof line and providing a larger door aperture. The 540-litre boot is also slightly larger than before.

Should I buy one?

It would be difficult not to recommend one. That the new Mercedes E250 CDI SE BlueEfficiency is a tremendously competent car comes as no surprise; for Mercedes to turn out anything less would be a major disappointment.

The true revelation, though, is that it has finally delivered an E-class that is not only fun to drive but also boasts all the apparent solidity you expect of a Mercedes.

Greg Kable

Join the debate

Comments
18

Re: Mercedes E250 CDI BlueEfficiency SE

5 years 6 weeks ago

Autocar wrote:
with a 0-62mph time of 8.2sec

was this timed yourself? Mercedes quote 7.9 s for the auto and 7.2 s for the manual.

Autocar wrote:

There is, however, a curious weak point in the E250 CDI’s driveline. Mercedes has decided, presumably for cost reasons, to provide all four-cylinder diesel versions of the new E-class with its old five-speed automatic gearbox.

Not really curious. First Mercedes need to justify the extra cost of the 6 and 8 cyl versions and market differentiate them from the 'taxi' versions and second all the 4 cyl versions are blown engines, not just the diesels, and therfore not quite so reliant on engine speed as the naturally aspirated 6 and 8 cyl petrols for driveability and fuel economy.

Autocar wrote:
The 450-litre boot

It's got a 540 litre boot.

Re: Mercedes E250 CDI BlueEfficiency SE

5 years 6 weeks ago

Not a bad looking car, if a little anonymous, not likely to offend anyone - but won't stand out either, just a little dull in my opinion. Good power levels from the 2.2 engine too.

Styling is harking back to the more solid angular surfaces of early Mercs, and they've done well to get the cD down to .25 for such an angular shape with upright front and rear glass.

A couple of points - why does the article say the car weighs 1660 kg and then in the bottom panel say 1735 kg, and how does a film in the windscreen reduce wind buffeting? I can see how it might reduce wind noise by working like double glazing and absorbing vibration, but how on earth does it stop the car being moved about at speed by gusts of wind?

Re: Mercedes E250 CDI BlueEfficiency SE

5 years 6 weeks ago

Yesterday at Geneva, I had a chance to speak at some length to a Mercedes man who ran the test programme for the new 'E' - they're really proud of this car and in particular of the E 250CDI.

The first things I asked when we homed in on this particular model were:

1) did it have the seven speeder?

2) would customers accept an up-range, as opposed to entry-level E from a refinement point of view with a four-pot engine?

I have to say I was a bit taken aback when he said it would stick with the five-speeder - it's not so much that the five-speed is rubbish, just that the seven-speed is particularly good. On the second point, he reckoned that with 500Nm and a load of noise and vibration suppression measures they had it cracked. I'll be interested to see to what extent they've succeeded in practice.

Re: Mercedes E250 CDI BlueEfficiency SE

5 years 6 weeks ago

The 7-speed in my early W221 S-Class was appalling and one of the reasons I ended up seriously disappointed with the car. Have they improved it? My recollection is of the thing constantly hunting for gears on a trailing throttle, giving a pronounced WHHHUNK!! from the rear when you went from hard acceleration to brakes (e.g. when changing your mind at a busy roundabout), and the actual driving experience when not persecuting me with the above issues was no different to that of its predecessor W220.

Re: Mercedes E250 CDI BlueEfficiency SE

5 years 6 weeks ago

ThwartedEfforts wrote:
on a trailing throttle, giving a pronounced WHHHUNK!! from the rear when you went from hard acceleration to brakes

I noticed something similar on the first car I tried with the 'box (petrol CLS 350) a few years back - as if it was being caught out unable to push through quickly enough a series of down-changes it was unexpectedly having to try to make under sudden braking and then delivering a jolt when it finally caught up and did manage to push a change through. Didn't notice it subsequently on other examples - mainly diesels - though.

Re: Mercedes E250 CDI BlueEfficiency SE

5 years 6 weeks ago

The information in the article is at loggerheads with the Mercedes brochure e.g. Boot is 540 litres, auto 0-62 mph is 7.4 sec. and this particular 4 cylinder engine gets a 6 speed box, not the old 5, reserved for the other two 4's. Even for a first drive this is a very superficial report.

Re: Mercedes E250 CDI BlueEfficiency SE

5 years 6 weeks ago

Profound apologies! I have re-read the brochure and the 6 speed is manual, the auto is as stated a five speed.

Re: Mercedes E250 CDI BlueEfficiency SE

5 years 6 weeks ago

roadtester wrote:
Yesterday at Geneva, I had a chance to speak at some length to a Mercedes man who ran the test programme for the new 'E' - they're really proud of this car and in particular of the E 250CDI.

Well, I hope he can duly be proud of the driving position in the right-hand drive versions. It'll be a relief if UK buyers don't have to suffer the badly compromised driving position of the outgoing E-class and its offspring, and, to some extent, the current C-class. Pedals offset to the right and steering wheel offset to the left – and angled – don't make for a comfortable driving position.

Because of this the E-class has been a no-go zone for me; C-class too. I do hope they've learned their lesson, done proper development work on the RHD models at last and got rid of a situation that ruined an otherwise attractive all-rounder for a lot of people.

Re: Mercedes E250 CDI BlueEfficiency SE

5 years 6 weeks ago

"Take time to study the individual elements, though, and you discover there is sufficient differentiation to ensure the E-class gets a truly unique interior, even though the materials are not quite to the standard of some rivals."

If the materials are not quite to the standards of some rivals, are they not still missing the mark on the perceived quality?

What about the actual quality? Mercedes have suffered with that in the past too, so I hope that has been improved.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

Re: Mercedes E250 CDI BlueEfficiency SE

5 years 6 weeks ago

It needs only one supplementary pot :-(

Until the W124, the Mercedes differed by their quality. With, it is true, more austerity. But, we bought a Mercedes which was really different from the others.

Now, they are more flashy.

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