The fifth-generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class gets a new look and some new engines as the mid-size saloon aims to reinstate itself at the top of the executive car market.
Tested for the first time in the UK, the E-Class is available in three bodystyles, as a saloon, an estate and the rugged All Terrain estate. There are also seven engines to choose from, three of which are oilburners, with the E 200 d and E 220 d being the first models fitted with a brand-new 2.0-litre diesel engine, codenamed OM654, which will be adopted by most of Mercedes’ smaller models and gives it some eye-catching vital statistics.
Capable of accelerating to 62mph in less than 7.5sec, it has also moved from a position of relative weakness versus its nearest rivals on peak power, claimed fuel economy and CO2 emissions, to one of real strength. And given how long Mercedes has languished somewhat behind the cutting edge of four-cylinder diesel engine technology, few will have expected the change in pace. The E 220 d is also available with Mercedes-Benz's 4Matic four-wheel drive system too.
Heading the diesel range a 3.0-litre V6 diesel codenamed the E 350 d, a 2.0-litre petrol hybrid and a full complement of AMG models to choose from as well, including the E 43 fitted with a 395bhp 3.0-litre V6, while the E 63 comes fitted with a 4.0-litre V8, as found in the AMG GT, but in two flavours - the 563 bhp standard car or 603bhp S model. The E-Class Estate range is far simpler with all the diesels available and currently the entry-level E 43 AMG model, although the gargantuan E 63 variants will join in due course.
There’s plenty more to report about the car: compared with its predecessor, it’s bigger, lighter, stiffer and all the usual stuff that engineers spend years achieving, for car reviewers to glibly sum up in a couple of sentences. You may have read exactly how in our earlier European first drive – as well as about the quasi-autonomous driving technologies that have been fitted and the S-Class-level cabin overhaul that Mercedes has lavished. Time to find out how well it all comes across on second acquaintance.
Is the new E-Class as lavish as a Mercedes-Benz should be?
While the character of the E 220 d hasn’t substantially changed, that new engine certainly makes it a better traditional laid-back Benz, as well as an undoubtedly more competitive prospect when judged against its rivals from Audi, BMW, Jaguar and elsewhere.
Mercedes’ right-hand drive conversion is a thorough one, the car’s pedals being no more offset than will be comfortable for most drivers. The driving position is more upright than some similar executive saloons, the seat set higher for a good vantage point – albeit with less of the snugly installed sporting feel of, say, a Jaguar XF.