E500 is an excellent long-distance car, provided you can afford it

What is it?

This is the Mercedes E500 Avantgarde. For the moment the Mercedes E500 sits at the top of the E-class range and its 5.5-litre 383bhp V8 is one of the few things that remains unchanged from the car it replaces. It’s also the only engine in the launch line-up not to feature BlueEfficiency badges; and unlike the Mercedes E350 CGI it sticks with conventional fuel injection.

All of which makes the big-capacity petrol seem like an outdated proposition. But for those who can justify the cost, the Mercedes E500 Avantgarde still makes for an extremely compelling car.

What’s it like?

The Mercedes E500’s drivetrain is incredibly impressive: quiet, smooth and responsive, and benefiting from Merc’s seven-speed auto ’box rather than the five-speed unit in the four-cylinder models. Performance is more than adequate (0-62mph in 5.3sec) although the delivery is deceptive, partly because the engine isn’t tremendously vocal, even under full throttle. But mainly it’s because the new E-class is exceptionally refined.

There’s a bit of wind noise around the A-pillars but that’s about it. There can be fewer better places to absorb motorway miles than in an E-Class. Whether this latest offering will continue to restore Mercedes’ reputation as a builder of solidly engineered cars can’t be confirmed in a single day’s driving, but on first inspection the car does feel more robust than its predecessor.

The Mercedes E500 also drives the way a Mercedes should: relaxed but accurately. There’s a softness which imparts a sense of calm to its occupants, and yet Mercedes has reduced the initial roll rate so that when you turn it doesn’t feel like a large car. It’s very well judged, as is the steering, which (like the C-class) betters its BMW rival. The only disappointment is the slow-speed ride from the air suspension, which doesn’t quite match that of the steel-sprung cars.

Should I buy one?

As charming as the Mercedes E500 is, for the price it is overshadowed by the excellent E250 CDI, which brings nearly all the refinement at a more affordable and acceptable cost.

Jamie Corstorphine

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yeswecanallakhazam 17 March 2009

Re: Mercedes E500 Avantgarde

Let's hope that it's built like an old mercedes and not like a chrysler.

icecreamwala 17 March 2009

Re: Mercedes E500 Avantgarde

You know with all these retro cars, Fiat 500, Mini, Ford GT etc, what if they had just made a new W124. Like the Ford GT a copy down to the last detail but with new engineering to bring it upto the eco and safety requirements. I'm sure people would buy it.

North 16 March 2009

Re: Mercedes E500 Avantgarde

I like it, I had seen a video of it ages ago now and it works (or I think anyway) very well indeed, it changes from different angles (sounds obvious) but I think its fantastic; the design has different things in it, but that for me is part of it; I think it very clever, elegant, sporty, edgy....its not overly aggressive and its got depth; I really like it!