Who’d have thought the old Stuttgart taxi would have morphed into the sumptuous thing it is today, with its S-Class-aping looks, lashings of tech, a sophisticated drivetrain and soothing road manners? The Mercedes E-Class is not quite as driver focused as a BMW 5 Series but then not every exec wants to show a clean pair of heels.
The current one was launched in 2016, when the cheapest version, the E220d SE auto, cost around £36,000. Today, the first 2016-reg examples with around 100,000 miles go from £15,000. Incidentally, if you’ve ever been ferried from the airport in an E-Class cab, you’ll know that the model is just warming up at 100,000 miles.
Although we’ve named the more powerful 3.0-litre V6 diesel E350d as our pick (it was replaced by the straight-six E400d in 2018), the E220d is no consolation prize. Its 2.0-litre diesel produces 192bhp. Driving the rear wheels through a nine-speed automatic gearbox, it’s good for 0-62mph in a respectable 7.3sec. Expect around 50mpg.
SE trim has most of the kit people expect, including a media system with sat-nav and digital radio, a reversing camera and even leather seats. It’s the great all-rounder (if you need more grip, there’s a four-wheel-drive 4Matic version) that’s ideal for not only airport drivers but families, too. Haggle the best price you can because there are stacks of used ones around, although not as many as there are AMG Line versions. This is the trim that, thanks to its AMG bodykit and larger alloy wheels, elevates the E-Class from elegant taxi to something tastier. It costs around £2000 more than SE.
We’ve mentioned the E350d and E400d – both deliciously smooth and unruffled motorway expresses but with a 40mpg thirst. Next up is the E300de diesel plug-in hybrid. It was launched in 2018 and aimed at those seeking E350d performance with lower tax bills and better economy. It also has a 34-mile electric-only range. New, it cost £47,700 but we found a low-mileage 2019-reg one for just £33,000. It could be a shrewd choice for a private diesel buyer.