The Mercedes E-Class is a prestigious medium-large car that’s been reinvented in recent years. Once a conservative model, it has become pretty stylish as the Germans aim for a wider range of buyers.
Body choices in the E-Class are many and varied: four-door sedan, five-door estate wagon, two-door convertible and two-door coupe. Sedans are still in the majority but coupes and convertibles are becoming increasingly popular. The Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class is a close relation to the convertible and coupe models so is also worth consideration.
Wagons have a good load area and feature numerous safety features, such as tie-down hooks and cargo barriers to make life reassuring.
Sedans and wagons have good passenger space, though legroom in the rear seat can be on the tight side if the front seats are set well back. The sleek bodies of the coupe and convertible can carry four but you need a fair bit of compromising on space, even more so in the convertible.
These Benzes have a reassuringly solid feel due to their strongly engineered bodies. Noise, vibration and harshness suppression are very good as a result.
Mercedes E-Class is better than average in its class on rough Australian bush roads. Of course they make excellent motorway cruisers as they are designed for high-speed transport in their fatherland.
Engine choices are numerous: four, six or eight cylinders fuelled by petrol or diesel, with the latter rising in popularity in recent years. However, Mercedes-Benz has consistently imported diesels for many years so even old used cars can be found with the economy powerplants.
Turbo-petrol engines have become increasingly the norm over the past few years.
Older Mercedes E-Class models can be quite slow off the line although this has changed in the later cars. Once up to cruising speed, they lope along easily. The vast majority of Australian E-Class models use an automatic transmission. Sequential manual overrides are fitted in later generation automatics.
Full-manual gearboxes in Mercedes are a rarity these days. Some have been brought in as private imports and can be difficult to resell.
Many E-Class cars are serviced by authorised Mercedes dealers for their entire lives. If the logbook isn’t bang up to date, be wary of the car.
Non-authorised dealers usually come in two classes: those operated by qualified Mercedes mechanics who have set up their own business, and general repairers who may, or may not, be able to do the work to factory standards.
The non-authorised mechanics probably don’t have the same access to the latest updates on the cars from Mercedes’ head office.
Insurance is generally moderately priced because the E-Class – despite going almost ultra-modern in recent times – still appeals mostly to relatively conservative buyers.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Do your own initial checks to find any obvious mistakes but don’t be tempted to do it all yourself; complex expensive cars can seriously damage your bank account.
Look over the interior for signs of rough usage; kids can sometimes do terrible things to cars and show no respect for upmarket ones.
Check for indications of previous crash repairs. If these appear to have been extensive, have a full inspection done by a panel shop that specialises in upmarket cars, or by your motoring association.
Arrange to start the engine when it’s stone cold, ideally after an overnight stop. It should kick over almost instantly and immediately settle into a smooth idle.
Check the automatic transmission engages gear promptly from Neutral or Park and that it changes gears virtually imperceptibly. Some harshness is permissible in full-throttle changes but not at other times.
CAR BUYING TIP
Beware the upmarket car that has stretched the budget of a previous owner to the extent that it hasn’t been serviced for years.