What is the Mercedes-Benz E-Class?
Although the Mercedes-Benz E-Class name has only been in use since 1993, the lineage of its predecessors stretches back to the 1950s ‘Ponton’ model.
Since its inception, the E-Class has been a mainstay of the large luxury car sector, with key rivals including German opposition in the forms of the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series, as well as alternatives including the Jaguar XF and Volvo S90 and V90 siblings.
- Top speed: 144-186mph
- 0-62mph: 3.3-7.8 seconds
- Fuel economy: 26-57mpg
- Emissions: 41-246g/km of CO2
- Boot space: 360-1,820 litres
First of the current Mk5 generation models to appear in 2016 was the popular four-door Mercedes-Benz E-Class Saloon (occasionally refered to by its W213 internal codename), followed later the same year by the capacious Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate (that’s the S213).
In a departure for the brand – and in direct competition with the Audi A6 Allroad and Volvo V90 Cross Country – is the S213 Estate-based Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain, complete with an elevated ride height, chunkier plastic body mouldings and standard 4Matic four-wheel drive.
It’s a rare occurrence these days that the numerical part of a Mercedes model designation represents the actual engine size, the 2.0-litre petrol E 200 being the only example in the E-Class range.
Other engine options include 2.0- and 3.0-litre diesels, a 3.0-litre petrol and plug-in hybrids mating battery power with either petrol or diesel motors. For brawnier performance, you’ll need to upgrade to a Mercedes-AMG E-Class.
All E-Classes have automatic gearboxes and, unless 4Matic is specified, power is sent to the rear wheels.
If blistering performance is what you’re after, then consider the appetite-whetting Mercedes-AMG E-Class range.
Depending upon the age and bodystyle of the E-Class, you’ve up to four Mercedes-AMG choices on offer: both the E 43 (Saloon and Estate only) and the E 53 models which replaced them have a 3.0-litre petrol engine, while the far lustier E 63 and E 63 S (no Coupe or Cabriolet versions) pack a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 producing up to 612hp.
In E 63 S Saloon guise that equates to a 186mph top speed and a scorching 0-62mph time of just 3.3 seconds.
In look and feel, the E-Class is more akin to a modestly scaled-down S-Class than a larger C-Class. I reeks of expense, high-quality materials, imperious construction and showcasing technology.
Of course, you can specify a fairly lowly appointed E-Class without the dual screen dashboard and smaller alloy wheels, but even then it still looks and feels special compared to its rivals.
Regardless of the trim level or engine type, the spacious E-Class is only sold in Britain with Mercedes’ sports grille design, with a large three-pointed star located at its centre. If you’re a fan of a more traditional grille with the logo stood proud on the bonnet then you’re in for some disappointing news – it’s not even available as an option.
While the BMW 5 Series and Jaguar XF trump the E-Class in terms of focused driver enjoyment, the Mercedes nevertheless is a satisfyingly engaging-yet-comfortable choice. It maintains tight lines through sweeping bends on a B-road, but will remain calming and cosseting on rough surfaces.
Pick one of the high-performance Mercedes-AMG versions and while the ride quality is noticeably firmer, it still remains pleasingly compliant, yet can be switched to becoming a wild sports car, with a tail-happy rear end whenever the mood takes you.
Clearly the E-Class is a luxurious, technology-rich car, so it’s expensive to buy outright, but on finance it’s a different story. In most instances, 2.0-litre diesel-engined E-Classes are less expensive on monthly contracts than their opponents from Audi and BMW, although the Volvo S90 is usually significantly cheaper than the lot of them.
Discover what drivers of the fifth-generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class think about their cars with our comprehensive owners’ reviews.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Model History
Current generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class Saloon model history
January 2016 – Launch range of the latest executive saloon available to order. A new four-cylinder 2.0-litre 194hp diesel powers the E 220 d (deliveries from May), while an enhanced six-cylinder 3.0-litre 258hp unit features in the E 350 d (in showrooms by the summer). SE and AMG Line trims are available on each
July 2016 – Line-up expanded at the lower end with the introduction of the 150hp E 200 d in SE and AMG Line trims. Carbon dioxide emissions are as low as 102g/km
October 2016 – Available to order for April 2017 delivery are four-wheel drive-equipped E 220 d 4Matic Saloons in SE and AMG Line specifications. Petrol-electric plug-in hybrid E 350 e also available to order with CO2 emissions of 49g/km in SE trim; AMG Line also available. First of the sportier models launched with the debut of the Mercedes-AMG E 43 4 Matic, powered by a 401hp 3.0-litre petrol engine
February 2017 – High-performance Mercedes-AMG E 63 models are also available to order for June delivery. The range comprises of the E 63 4Matic+ (571hp) , E 63 S 4Matic+ (612hp) and the limited availability E 63 S 4Matic+ Edition 1
June 2018 – Engine range undergoes overhaul with E 43 AMG replaced by E53 AMG, and E 350 d by E400 d. E 200 d and hybrid E 350 e versions are dropped from the range
For the Mk4 E-Class range, Mercedes opted to continue the quad-headlamp theme established by its predecessors, encompassed in sharper-edged styling, with a similarly straight-lined interior.
Fleshing-out the launch range in 2009 were the traditional Mercedes-Benz E-Class Saloon (with the internal codename of W212) and the two-door CLK-replacing Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe (C207).
From a styling perspective, it wasn’t as well-received as previous E-Classes and by 2013 all versions were facelifted, with the previous quad-headlamp arrangement substituted by larger single-piece headlamps on either side.
Choosing an engine that was right for you was a minefield, with everything from 1.8- to 3.5-litre petrols and 2.1- to 3.0-litre diesels.
Crowning the range were the E 63 AMG Saloons and Estates – no two-door versions – initially powered by a supercharged 6.2-litre V8, but from 2011 by a 5.5-litre twin-turbo motor.
Fine examples of used cars for sale and find out what drivers of the fourth-generation E-Class feel about their cars with our owners’ reviews.
Third-generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2002-10)
As with the generation before it, the two-door models continued to be badged CLK, leaving the Mk3 E-Class as a two bodystyle line-up.
Arriving first in 2002 – and making its film debut in Men in Black II, was the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Saloon (often known as by its W211 codename), with the enormous Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate (S211) reaching the market the following year.
In an enormously complex range, engines ranged from supercharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder units (E 200 Kompressor) all the way up to a non-turbocharged 5.0-litre V8 in the E 500.
As quick as that latter model was, it couldn’t hold a candle to either of the AMG performance versions: up first was the E 55 with a supercharged 5.4-litre motor, replaced in 2006 by the 6.2-litre E 63.
Second-generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class (1995-03)
For a brand normally associated with traditional, conservative styling, the Mk2 E-Class was a radical departure, most obviously for the styling with the Mercedes’ nose dominated by a quad-headlamp design. The other brak from the norm was that the two-door models were no longer members of the E-Class family, instead badged CLK.
Some things never change, so once again it was the four-door Mercedes-Benz E-Class Saloon (W210) that arrived first in 1995, followed in 1996 by the ungainly Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate (S210) – as troubling as that rear end was to look at, it could swallow an awful lot of luggage.
A wide array of engines ranged from 2.0- to 4.3-litre capacities for the mainstream range, with the 115hp E 250 Diesel proving efficient but painfully slow.
Not that the AMG models at the opposite end of the range lacked speed: an E 36 stop-gap model arrived first, before the 5.5-litre E 55 arrived in 2007.
Slightly softened front-end styling and interior improvements in 1999, along with an expanded V6 engine range.
First-generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class (1993-97)
Although the E-Class name is often retrospectively applied to this line of Mercedes, it was first officially applied in 1993 on the mildly facelifted versions of what were previous known as the 200-500 Series – or the 124 family if you prefer the internal codenames.
Visually differentiated by clear indicator lenses and a bonnet line that separated the headlamps from the grille with a slither of body-coloured metal, the name change was implemented to complement the larger S-Class and the first-generation of 190 Series-replacing C-Class.
As a facelift, the bodystyles and engine range largely mirrored what went before, but the designation differed – what was the 200 E became the E 200, for instance. Consequently, the range comprised of:
- Mercedes-Benz E-Class Saloon – traditional four-door (W124)
- Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate – commodious wagon (S124)
- Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe – svelte two-door (C124)
- Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet – elegant soft-top (A124)
- Mercedes-Benz E-Class Limousine – the seldom seen six-door (yes, six!) long-wheelbase saloon (W124)
Although the left-hand drive E 500 Saloon was the fastest of the Mk1 E-Classes, right-hand drive AMG-badged versions were produced, with E 63 iterations of all bodystyles save for the six-door.