Ride quality is an Mercedes E-Class hallmark and even the worst of them all – an E 63 in sport mode – is still a perfectly comfortable car. But depending on your wheel and tyre choices and whether you option in air suspension, your E-Class will come with ride quality that starts at exceptional and extends all the way to the truly extraordinary.
A base model E-Class on steel springs glides like few other cars in the world. It’s soft but deftly controlled, sponging away all manner of everyday lumps and bumps but never resorting lurching or wallowing over long wave undulations.
Estates are even better because all of them have air-sprung self levelling rear suspension as standard. But it’s only when you drive a car with bags of air at each corner that you realise just what can be achieved – namely a level of comfort you’d need a brand new S-Class or a Rolls-Royce to significantly trump.
There is a pay off in the way the E-Class handles. With its long wheelbase and relatively soft suspension, there is a stateliness to the way it gets down the road you’re unlikely ever to confuse with agility.
Slow corners tackled with excess enthusiasm will result in an early cessation of play as the electronic stability systems call time on such behaviour, but with precise and sensibly geared steering quicker curves are much more proficiently dispatched.
Predictably enough these comments don’t really apply to the AMG versions, which will be anything between awesomely capable and splendidly nutty depending on how you choose to drive them.
They put you in closer touch with conditions underfoot than either the Audi or BMW and should you find the time and space to safely disengage the safety nets, they’re more fun and predictable to hoof around on the throttle too.