Driver's choice: Mercedes-Benz E350 Blue TEC road test

  • We test fastest of the diesel E-Class range on the road
  • Facelift ushers in new trim levels including AMG Sport
  • Our handling favourite costs £40,900 with no optional extras

If you’re looking for an E-Class which is excellent to drive yet won’t spell financial ruin, your best bet is the E350 Blue TEC.

Using a 3.0-litre diesel engine with 250bhp and 620Nm of torque, this model hits 62mph in 6.6 seconds. It uses the smooth and refined Mercedes seven-speed automatic gearbox which can be operated manually via the paddle-shifters behind the steering wheel or left to its own devices to function autonomously.

It’s a very smooth engine which never seems to lack the pulling power required to overtake or make a fast getaway. Although in some situations the gearbox could be faster to react – especially on downshifts - during normal driving it performs faultlessly.

The reason this car is the one to pick for decent handling is that it is only available as an AMG Sport model. This means it gets a host of extra equipment over base-spec SE models, and among these is a sportier suspension setup with a 15mm drop in ride height.

This means a far more stable ride through corners, the already beautifully balanced E-Class taking on a much more composed gait with less body-roll and a feeling of more grip.

Other extra equipment includes 18-inch alloys and AMG styling cues to make the car appear a little sportier than a normal SE model.  That’s on top of the COMAND multimedia system, DAB digital radio and a new safety system called Collision Prevention Assist – which primes the car when an impending crash is detected and will brake if the driver does nothing to avoid it.

A recent facelift has meant the AMG Sport trim replaced the previous Sport trim, offering £3,000 of equipment for an extra £575 on the list price.

In terms of running costs, Mercedes claims this model is capable of 47.1mpg on the combined cycle. During our test we saw around 38mpg, but more careful application of the right foot may improve that slightly.

Road tax is going to be payable at £170 per year thanks to CO2 emissions of 157g/km.

The recent facelift for the E-Class includes a re-designed front end including all-new single headlamps to replace the distinctive twin setup before. The rear lights have had a tweak too, and the rear bumper has received a make-over.

You can now also get Active Park Assist, which senses parking spaces close to the car when travelling below 20mph. When reverse gear is engaged it’ll then steer the car into a space, all the time making sure you don’t hit anything thanks to the automatic braking function.

Of course, there’s a seriously large list of optional extras available should you want to further customise your E-Class. Be careful though – it’s all too easy to add thousands or even tens of thousands of pounds to the price of the car.

You can order the E350 Blue TEC model now, with prices starting at £40,900.

Also consider:

BMW 5 Series

The 5 Series is the driver’s car of the bunch. It boasts steering with impressive feedback but the ride is a little harder than on the E-Class.

Jaguar XF

Although under-stated, the Jaguar offering is very comfortable and boasts and extremely nice interior. It’s a little softer than the E-Class, though.

Audi A6

Although powered by a range of smooth and efficient engines, the A6 isn’t quite as focused a driver’s car as the E-Class.