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.
Cabin and boot space are both fairly generous, although neither is a standout asset for the E-Class. But in other respects the car’s interior is exactly that. Entry-level SE-grade cars won’t blow you away with their material lavishness; Mercedes expects you to pay extra for the car’s impressive twin 12.3in LCD instrument and infotainment screens and doesn’t throw in a leather-wrapped dashboard to match the standard heated leather seats unless you spend the necessary on upper-level AMG Line trim.
The entry-level SE trim comes with Mercedes’ 8.4in infotainment complete with Garmin sat nav and DAB tuner, a reversing camera and cruise control. If you opt for the E 350 d or the hybrid E 350 e then you will get the 12.3in Comand Online infotainment, air suspension and 18in alloys as part of the SE trim.
Spec the E-Class in AMG-Line trim and expect AMG branded alloys, bodykit and decals, and electrically adjustable front seats. Those who opt for the entry-level AMG E 43, will find their E-Class adorned with an aggressive body kit, AMG-tuned air suspension, a sports exhaust, black leather upholstery with red stitching and red seatbelts.
If 395bhp isn't enough for your executive saloon, then the boombastic E 63s not only get a vociferous 4.0-litre V8, but also their own trims, with the standard car fitted with a mechanical rear axle slip differential, a AMG-tuned nine-speed automatic gearbox, electrically adjustable front seats, AMG sports seats and AMG-adapted infotainment software, while the E 63 S gains 20in alloy wheels, dynamic engine mounts, an electronic rear limited slip diff, a Nappa leather upholstery and AMG performance seats.
But the car’s cabin mouldings and fittings look and feel solid and expensive, and they’re supremely well finished. Those looking for a saloon in which to spend the kind of time, over a three-year ownership period, that other breeds of new car simply don’t see will be delighted with the robustness and usability of what’s on show.
Does the Mercedes-Benz E-Class retain its fabled cruising ability?
Likewise, they may approve wholeheartedly of the becalmed style in which the E-Class delivers its assured, refined performance on the road. The 2.0-litre diesel is smooth at idle and quiet under part throttle, particularly so on the motorway, where its standard nine-speed automatic gearbox allows it to cruise at the legal limit at well under 1500rpm.