What are you driving?
Arguably the best executive saloon money can buy in Ireland right now. The current Mercedes E-Class stands toe-to-toe with the BMW 5 Series at the top of the segment and we reckon the star of the E-Class range isn't the tyre-shredding E 63, but this, the rather more humble E 220 d, powered by the company's latest 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine. It's one rung up from the entry-level E 200 d (150hp/360Nm, starts at €48,200), using the same core powerplant, and it feels a more impressive car for that extra oomph. Prices for the E 220 d start at €50,325 in Avantgarde specification, rising to €52,495 for the Exclusive version, though we reckon it's worth spending the extra on this, the AMG Line model, as it looks almost as good as the full-blooded AMG performance saloons it takes its name from. Yet with rather more palatable running costs.
Name its best bits
I've mentioned the looks already - I'd not have an E-Class without the AMG Line design package to be honest. The interior is lovely too, even if you do have to pay extra for the full 'Widescreen cockpit' feature, which truly lifts it to the next level. For me, though, the E-Class seals its place at the top table of executives with its mix of top refinement and driving manners. What's more, even on large AMG alloy wheels, it's remarkably comfortable and smooth to drive - while still keeping the 5 Series honest in terms of driver engagement and enjoyment. This version of the E-Class has it all.
Anything that bugs you?
Mainly the pricing of the options, many of which make the E-Class the car it should be by default. That fully-digital instrumentation, as mentioned above, is included in that, as is some of the active safety technology. I guess it's easier to swallow the extra cost when it's broken down into monthly PCP payments.
And why have you given it this rating?
In summary, the E-Class vies with the 5 Series for class honours and the Mercedes is at its best in E 220 d guise with the gorgeous AMG Line specification. It just misses out on a five-star score because of the cost of this variant and the price of the technology upgrades, but overall the E-Class is, well, a class act.
What do the rest of the team think?
One of the standout features in the Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the interior. In addition to being a great design that maximises the sense of space up front, it is exceptionally well finished. Its nine-speed automatic ranks as one of the best, too, and exploits the torque of the diesel engine.
Dave Humphreys, Road Test Editor
I have but one problem with the current E-Class - rear seat space. I know, that’s a bit of a nit-pick, but as someone who regularly travels in the back of an old-shape E-Class, the current (W213) E-Class lacks for rear foot room. It’s to do with the position of the front seat, and it sounds like such a minor thing, but it significantly interrupts what should be a hugely spacious rear cabin. The rest of the E-Class is, basically, magnificent.
Neil Briscoe, Editor-at-large