Parkers overall rating: 4.6 out of 5 4.6
  • Massive full-width digital dashboard impresses
  • Styling and build quality is closer to S-Class than C
  • Multi-colour ambient lighting looks great at night

The E-Class blows the opposition out of the water when it comes to interior style, borrowing heavily from the previous generation S-Class, and in some areas, actually improving on it.

The build quality is excellent – closer to that of an S-Class big brother than the C-Class below it. The Bentley-like organ stop heater vents add to the sense of luxury. Every E-Class has an automatic gearbox controlled by an indicator-like column stalk and an electric handbrake that frees up useful storage room in the centre console.

2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class driving position

Every model now comes with two widescreen displays for instrumentation and infotainment – even base cars dispense with the physical instrument binnacle of the pre-facelift model. These are 10.25-inches in size, optionally upgradeable to a truly panoramic 12.3-inches each, with a visor above to reduce glare or reflections.

Big and clever

The twin screens take care of all of the car’s functions, and are controlled through a combination of steering wheel-mounted thumb controls and a central touchpad. 

The driver’s display can be configured to show a huge range of driving information, and the digital dials can be everything from traditional lookalikes to futuristic displays. In general, information is well-presented and easy to digest, though navigating around the interface isn’t all that easy. That’s due to the touch-sensitive steering wheel controls, which take a lot of getting used to if you’re accustomed to traditional buttons.

The double-spoke arrangement on the steering wheel is far more purposeful than it looks, however, seperating out the controls so you can locate them by touch and keep your eyes on the road a little longer.

The central screen is easier to get round, with a chunky interface and responsive touchpad control, but the cursor highlighting which function you have selected isn’t that obvious so it can be difficult to see where you are at a glance. The extensive menus can also prove distracting, as you end up searching for what you want far longer than expected. Thankfully, the most useful shortcut keys can be located below the climate control system, although they can be a little awkward to access if you have drinks bottles in the cupholders.

It’s a slight stretch, but you can also reach out and touch the screen if you prefer – effective for typing in addresses into the sat-nav. And it’s possible to control a huge number of functions simply by speaking to the car. Just say ‘Hey Mercedes’ out loud and you can input destinations, alter media settings or simply ask the car questions.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also supported through the central screen.

Comfort

  • Great ride on standard springs
  • Air suspension is luxurious
  • AMG cars feel purposefully firm

If you’re looking for the most relaxing big saloon on the market, look no further. No other car in the class can match the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class for comfort and refinement.

Whether it’s in stop-start traffic or pounding the motorway, the E-Class remains impressively hushed – the Burmester sound system is clear and punchy, but it doesn’t have to work hard to drown out any engine, tyre and wind noise noise in the first place.

The larger 20-inch wheels and low-profile tyres on our AMG Line Premium Plus model (pictured below), generates a little more road rumble than others on smaller wheels, but it isn’t enough to ruin the experience.

You’d have to listen carefully with the stereo off to notice a hint of wind whistling by the windscreen pillars, or the odd whirring noise from the E 220 d engine filtering through from behind the dash.

The BMW 5 Series just pips it for insulating against engine noise and has a more luxurious ride quality that irons out bumps, but the E-Class is so close the difference will be negligable for most.

Ride comfort is excellent in all versions, but the air-spring suspension (standard on higher-spec E-Classes, optional on others) has a clear advantage here, isolating occupants from smaller-frequency bumps that would be felt with the standard coil springs.

Optional adaptive dampers help smooth the ride on cars without the air suspension. Changing the drive mode selector on the console from Comfort to Sport or Sport Plus tightens the handling at the expense of comfort.

The front seats are extremely comfortable with plenty of adjustment, and can be had with both heating and cooling functions, too. The Energizing Comfort mode found on higher-spec models can also make subtle adjustments to your seating position to help prevent aches over longer journeys. Factor in the handsome dash and a tasteful amount of ambient lighting and you’d happily spend a long journey in the E-Class.

Those in the rear shouldn’t become too restless either, with their own climate control settings, air vents on the door and centre console, and plenty of speakers.

Mercedes-AMG ride comfort

Both E 53 and E 63 models come with air suspension but don’t expect the same wafty ride as you get in the normal E-Class. The AMG cars have a special performance set up and that means a purposeful firmness that you’ll notice most on lumpy roads.

The six-cylinder car is very easy to live with while the full-fat E 63 is less cushy even in its least aggressive drive mode, and sharpened up in Sport+ it feels very hard indeed.

On undulating back roads the E 63 S actually feels faster in Sport or Normal mode, the softer suspension allowing the car to flow better over the cracked tarmac.