Luxurious and refined V6 Mercedes-Benz E-Class has a whiff of baby S-Class about it

What is it?

The all-new Mercedes-Benz E-Class range continues to grow apace, but it’s well worth pausing here to take a look at one of the more intriguing models as it arrives in the UK: the V6 diesel-powered E 350 d. 

Such is the importance of company car tax rates and CO2 emissions in this world, that the executive saloon is not alone in being unable to escape the downsizing trend; around 80% of buyers of the new E-Class will have their car powered by four cylinders.

That’s no great shock or revelation, of course, but for the most 'executive' experience in an executive car, we must still turn to six cylinders. In the E-Class’s case, the six-cylinder engine is a familiar one: the 255bhp / 457lb ft unit, which has been carried over from the previous car.

The fact that it’s a carryover engine is also no great shock, because Mercedes-Benz is planning to replace its V6 diesel engines with straight-six units in the coming months and years. Expect to see them on the facelifted Mercedes-Benz S-Class range first in the middle of 2017, before dripping down the rest of the range soon after.

What's it like?

For now, perhaps the highest compliment that can be leveled at the E 350 d is that it has a whiff of the baby Mercedes-Benz S-Class about it.

The reasons are threefold: the engine is as refined as V6s come; the standard air suspension makes driving on smooth roads make you feel like you’re driving on, erm, air; and the cabin is darn well screwed together, oozing style, quality and sophistication.

To look at those three things more closely, that powertrain is not only supremely refined, but it makes the E 350d rather brisk, too. All of its lovely low-end torque makes the E 350 d no slouch off the line, and despite nine forward gears sounding like a rather fiddly and unnecessary intrusion to the driving experience, the automatic transmission’s work is done seamlessly and unobtrusively in the background.

The gearbox also allows for impressive real-world economy, keeping the engine revs at what looks like an impossibly low number when in a settled cruise; it easily gets into the low 40mpgs.

As for that ride, the observation of it being S-Class-like is true of the primary ride and when driving on smooth roads. The mask slips for the secondary ride, with the E 350d not having the same relaxed sophistication in the damping for road scarrings. It’s a bit crashy in this regard, and a shame in what is an otherwise impressive dynamic package.

Not that you’d necessarily use the word dynamic to describe the E 350 d. It’s a car to relax in and then double take a look at the trip computer. Its handling is competent, but there’s not much feedback nor encouragement to push on.

All of that leaves more time to enjoy the car's sumptuous interior. It really is a lovely thing to look at, sit in, be cosseted by and interact with, particularly in this plush, subtly sporting AMG Line trim. However, as pleasant a place to be as the cabin is, one unwelcome travel companion is the amount of road noise - you just don’t get that in an S Class. 

Should I buy one?

It’s nice to discover that the E Class in six-cylinder form has its own character distinct from others in its class. The Jaguar XF’s greatest appeal is in the way it drives, the Audi A6’s in its interior, the E Class’s in the way it cossets its occupants and isolates them from the outside world, and the BMW 5 Series’ in the way it blends all of those traits. All of that results in real, discernible choice for buyers, which is a very good thing. 

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As such, if you value refinement and comfort in your executive saloon above all else, then the E 350 d would win our recommendation. The obvious caveat to that is that keener drivers will want to look elsewhere. 

Mercedes-Benz E 350 d AMG Line

Location South Wales; On sale Now; Price £47,425; Engine V6, 2987cc, diesel; Power 255bhp at 3400rpm; Torque 457lb ft at 1600-2400rpm; Gearbox 9-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1800kg; 0-62mph 5.9sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 54.3mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 144g/km, 28%; Rivals Jaguar XF 3.0 V6 S, BMW 530d

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, autocar.co.uk website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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ridnufc 9 August 2016


I hate to sound boring but that boot looks very small and shallow. Maybe it's a trick of the light.
jer 9 August 2016

Seen a few and

They look better than the drooping tailed C class. I can't work this engine out I've driven it a few times in the CLS. The more they de-tune it the better it performs.