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Mercedes-Benz E-Class Saloon engines, drive and performance

2009 - 2016 (change model)
Performance rating: 4 out of 54.0

Written by Keith Adams Published: 26 September 2023 Updated: 26 September 2023

Petrol engines

A new range of turbocharged direct injection petrol engines replaced the supercharged four-cylinder motors from the previous E-Class. The E200 CGI produces 184bhp, while the E250 CGI develops 204bhp. Both use an automatic gearbox and cover the 0-62mph dash in 8.4 seconds and 7.5 seconds respectively.

Both models are very smooth and quiet, but they do feel a little slow to respond at times while the automatic transmission (standard on the E250 but optional on the E200) isn’t the quickest of gearboxes around. Other engines include the 3.5-litre V6 E350 CGI with 306bhp for 0-62mph in a swift 6.3 seconds.

Diesel engines

The least powerful diesel engine in the Mercedes E-Class saloon is the 136bhp diesel in the E200 CDI, launched in September 2009, which at last brought down E-Class CO2 emissions to a comparable level with BMW’s 520d, although it is still a little short on power compared to its German rival. Despite this, 0-62mph in 10 seconds for the five-speed automatic (six-speed manual is 9.7 seconds) feels quick enough.

The same engine is available in higher power output versions in the E220 CDI and E250 CDI, both of which have similar fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. 170bhp in the E220 CDI is the same as the previous version of the E-Class and both six-speed manual and five-speed auto versions will sprint from 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds.

The E250 CDI boasts 204bhp along with exceptional pulling power for a four-cylinder diesel. It isn’t quite as pleasing to the ear as a six-cylinder diesel (as the old E280 CDI was) but pays dividends at the fuel pumps.

The top diesel is a 3.0-litre in the E350 CDI with a seven-speed automatic gearbox. It produces 265bhp, reaches 62mph in 6.2 seconds and is capable of 155mph flat out.

2013 facelift

Following the facelift there were six engines available. Petrol power came in the form of E200 and E250 engines, the former with the same output as before and the latter getting 209bhp to hit 62mph in 7.4 seconds.

Diesel options were three-fold: the E220 CDI has 168bhp for a sprint to 62mph in 8.7 seconds, and is the only version of the E-Class now available with a manual gearbox. The E250 CDI gets 202bhp and hits 62mph in 7.5 seconds, while the E350 CDI has 250bhp and will hit 62mph in 6.6 seconds.

Parkers recommends

The Mercedes E-Class in E220 CDI form with an automatic gearbox is a hugely popular choice with buyers and we wouldn’t argue with this.

Comfort seems to have been given greater priority than responsiveness with SE and Avantgarde versions of the W212 E-Class. Mercedes-Benz says some of the lengthy development and honing was carried out in the UK, but decided not to change the existing set-up of the car. The base SE version comes with 16-inch alloy wheels and feels smooth and composed most of the time.

The Avantgarde is fitted with 17-inch wheels as standard and has lower suspension than the SE. Sport models use AMG-style 18-inch alloy wheels and have a sports chassis with different suspension settings compared with the other versions for improved grip in corners and better body control.

They also have Mercedes-Benz’s Direct-Steer system, which allows improved responsiveness at lower speeds (requiring less input to turn) and better precision and stability at higher speeds. This system is fitted as standard to V6 and V8 models.

Airmatic suspension is available as an option on six-cylinder versions of the E-Class and is standard on the E500. It offers improved comfort over the standard springs, but is also fitted in conjunction with electronic dampers with comfort and sport modes.

Facelift in 2013

Following the 2013 update, AMG Sport trim level has a sportier suspension setup which is 15mm lower and performs better through corners. SE models roll around a bit more, but the pay-off is a comfier ride.