Adding the substantial extra weight of the V6 engine has done little to harm the Merc’s handling. That’s largely because, at least in the air-suspended forms we’ve tried, the new E-Class isn’t a car you’ll be inclined to find the limits of in the way you might the sweeter-steering Jag XF. It’s far happier playing the junior S-Class role that its grand looks and lavish interior owe their very existence to.
With that in mind, the one regret is a ride that’s too easily flummoxed by potholes and recessed drain covers. The E 350 d seemed noticeably more bothered by such hurdles than the E 220 d we tried with the same Air Body Control suspension on the same Portuguese roads. High-speed comfort is tough to knock, though; there’s just enough laziness in the air chambers to smooth over motorway ripples without any unwelcome wallow over larger undulations.
The E 350 d costs £9000 more than the equivalent E 220 d, so it’s hardly surprisingly that Merc expects around 80% of E-Class buyers to settle for four cylinders. Mind you, V6 versions do come with a few extra desirables including Merc’s much-improved Comand infotainment system and standard air suspension.
Should I buy one?
Chances are you won’t and we can’t really blame you. On merit, the E 350 d is probably the best version of the new E-Class we’ve tried, but it’s tricky to justify the 25% premium it commands over the E 220 d – even though you do get a few more gadgets to go with the extra power and torque.
Look at is this way: the E 350 d is undoubtedly an expensive E-Class, but on the performance and engine refinement scores, if perhaps not quite ride comfort, it’s actually closer to the imperious S-Class. From that standpoint, this range-topping E-Class seems somewhat easier to justify.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class E 350 d
Location Lisbon, Portugal; On sale Now; Price from £44,930; Engine V6, 2987cc, turbocharged, diesel; Power 255bhp at 3400rpm; Torque 457lb ft at 1600rpm; Gearbox Nine-speed automatic; Kerb weight 1800kg; Top speed 155mph; 0-62mph 5.9sec; Economy 54.3mpg; CO2/tax band 136g/km, 25%