From £28,360
E500 is an excellent long-distance car, provided you can afford it

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The E-class more than lives up to traditional Mercedes values

The E-Class is a refined and relaxing return to old Mercedes qualities

What is it?

This is the Mercedes E500 Avantgarde. For the moment the Mercedes E500 sits at the top of the E-class range and its 5.5-litre 383bhp V8 is one of the few things that remains unchanged from the car it replaces. It’s also the only engine in the launch line-up not to feature BlueEfficiency badges; and unlike the Mercedes E350 CGI it sticks with conventional fuel injection.

All of which makes the big-capacity petrol seem like an outdated proposition. But for those who can justify the cost, the Mercedes E500 Avantgarde still makes for an extremely compelling car.

What’s it like?

The Mercedes E500’s drivetrain is incredibly impressive: quiet, smooth and responsive, and benefiting from Merc’s seven-speed auto ’box rather than the five-speed unit in the four-cylinder models. Performance is more than adequate (0-62mph in 5.3sec) although the delivery is deceptive, partly because the engine isn’t tremendously vocal, even under full throttle. But mainly it’s because the new E-class is exceptionally refined.

There’s a bit of wind noise around the A-pillars but that’s about it. There can be fewer better places to absorb motorway miles than in an E-Class. Whether this latest offering will continue to restore Mercedes’ reputation as a builder of solidly engineered cars can’t be confirmed in a single day’s driving, but on first inspection the car does feel more robust than its predecessor.

The Mercedes E500 also drives the way a Mercedes should: relaxed but accurately. There’s a softness which imparts a sense of calm to its occupants, and yet Mercedes has reduced the initial roll rate so that when you turn it doesn’t feel like a large car. It’s very well judged, as is the steering, which (like the C-class) betters its BMW rival. The only disappointment is the slow-speed ride from the air suspension, which doesn’t quite match that of the steel-sprung cars.

Should I buy one?

As charming as the Mercedes E500 is, for the price it is overshadowed by the excellent E250 CDI, which brings nearly all the refinement at a more affordable and acceptable cost.

Jamie Corstorphine

Join the debate

Comments
18

13 March 2009

Proper. Motor. Car.

Bring back steel wheels.

13 March 2009

Mercedes builds a german Lexus, this car front and back looks like a Lexus.

Mercedes has lost the cache it once had, it needs to stop competing with Lexus and build a road car not some isolation chamber with a german knockoff on a japanese styled car.

13 March 2009

Makes a change from a Japanese knock off of a German car!

13 March 2009

[quote W124]Proper. Motor. Car.[/quote] Not sure about the looks, but it sounds a lot more solid than the last model. Nothing beats the W124 500E/E500 though. The ultimate Q-car.

14 March 2009

500E : the ultimate class for Mercedes sportscar.

It was the class and not the frequent look of AMG's cheap tuning...

14 March 2009

I have not driven the new E-class yet so I will refrain from passing judgement on its ride, handling, comfort etc, but its a very poor effort from the one time leading premium car maker of Germany. I agree that it looks like a re-hashed Lexus GS from the front, while the sides are reminiscent of a Renault Laguna, and the back is a complete mess. There is absolutely no cohesion in the exterior design, and the interior looks like a complete mishmash of squared off angles and buttons. Its so chintzy and dated that it wouldn't have even passed Audi standards 20 years ago. Its just no-where near the standard that a premium car costing upwards from £30,000 should be at, just look at the interior build quality and design of the Jaguar XF or an Audi A6 even and really, it doesn't matter how it drives, because its far too compromised in other areas. Not good enough Mercedes- and it makes it all the worse when you consider that they are able to build the class leading S-class and CLS.

14 March 2009

[quote Archie99] have not driven the new E-class yet so I will refrain from passing judgement on its ride, handling, comfort etc, but its a very poor effort from the one time leading premium car maker of Germany. I agree that it looks like a re-hashed Lexus GS from the front, while the sides are reminiscent of a Renault Laguna, and the back is a complete mess. There is absolutely no cohesion in the exterior design, and the interior looks like a complete mishmash of squared off angles and buttons. Its so chintzy and dated that it wouldn't have even passed Audi standards 20 years ago. Its just no-where near the standard that a premium car costing upwards from £30,000 should be at, just look at the interior build quality and design of the Jaguar XF or an Audi A6 even and really, it doesn't matter how it drives, because its far too compromised in other areas. Not good enough Mercedes- and it makes it all the worse when you consider that they are able to build the class leading S-class and CLS.[/quote]

Can you stop rambling on for a second mate, poor effort what are you on about mr grumpy. if you dont recall the previous e class shape was a poor effort and looked like it was made for old men. The new class looks dynamic and pretty cool, do you know what the meaning of cool is btw ?.. i did not think so. The interior from the pictures looks very nice and the dials look good as well, compared to the 5 series its much better. The Audi A6 is boring and even if it has a interior which is good it just lifted off some other audi and changed a little... thats not so original is it. mate. The Jags looks nothing special just some fancy lights inside and a gear stick control that comes out of a hole... thats so exciting. And how can you say its far to compromised... are you the master of car deisgn? and how dare you say not good enough merc... they make some of the best cars in the world and you could probely not even put togther a toy car mate.

give the car a chance before slagging it off when u not even seen tested it proprley

14 March 2009

I agree with another poster here, the E500 is the best of the best E class models since, The car was engineered by Mercedes/Porsche, and built by Porsche. This is what an E class should be not some Lexus knockoff. Of course misplaced snobbery always occurs when someone else dare criticize a MB.

14 March 2009

[quote frankpcb]

Mercedes builds a german Lexus, this car front and back looks like a Lexus.

[/quote]

In fact, it's the other way around. In '95, Merc launched the E-Class with the twin-headlights. More than 2 years later, the GS was presented...with twin-headlights.

The reason why the new E-Class has squarish headlights is to further emphasise the link with the W124, which at the time Mercedes was building the most robust and over-engineered cars of the day.

 

- Follow your own star -

15 March 2009

[quote Autocar]

The only disappointment is the slow-speed ride from the air suspension, which doesn’t quite match that of the steel-sprung cars.
[/quote]

Would like to know what wheels were on the press car (probably the 18- or 19-inch options, knowing press cars) because as a long term user of AirMATIC the system is simply untouchable on standard rims. If I were to make a 'top ten' list of vehicles with a truly exceptional primary ride then more than half would have pneumatic suspension systems.

In fact, this sort of information should really filter through to the 'Data' section at the bottom as today the configuration a car is wearing can drastically affect how it moves and steers...

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