Mercedes E-Class estate delivers class, practicality and style at a price

Times as we all know have changed and there are now fewer buyers for large luxury saloons and estates. People in general are buying smaller low emission cars.

Times as we all know have changed and there are now fewer buyers for large luxury saloons and estates. People in general are buying smaller low emission cars.

Road Tested By Hugh Maguire.

As the end of January approaches many are more concerned as to how much the December budget is going to remove from their pockets rather than contemplating a new Mercedes.

The good news here, however, is that manufacturers have responded to the sales downturn by dramatically reducing prices and now you can get into a brand new Merdedes E 200CDI estate for around €44,000 which was unheard of just a few years ago.

Mind you BMW have also dropped the price of their 5 Series cars so competition is tough out there but that is great news if you are in a position to purchase!

The latest new E-Class was launched at the end of 2009 and was completely re-styled, with better equipment levels, better engines which deliver greater economy, lower emissions and higher performance. I then have been road testing the E-250 CDI estate.

It is worth mentioning that there are four diesels and five petrol power units available including an E200CDI. As before there are three trim levels, Standard, Elegance and Avantgarde, my test car had the Avantgarde trim level.

In such a competitive market place this new Mercedes needs to be good and it is!

As always Mercedes has made great use of technology in all areas including the ultimate in safety with intelligent restraint systems that adapt to the current occupant and accident situation.

First Impressions

The E-Class estate is a dramatic looking car with sweeping lines that go to create a distinctive and appealing style. Nice touches include the stainless steel roof rails and elegant alloy wheels.

Gone are the soft contours of the previous E-Class this new car is all angles and straight lines, right down to the angular headlights. There are overtones of the S-Class in its lines. Unlike many other cars which can look bland the new E-Class estate is very attractive and most definitely a Mercedes in style and all the better for it.

Behind the wheel

The cabin of the E-Class estate is one of the best I have seen of late. My test car was the Avantgarde, (not the base model) and was finished with lovely supple leather trim with judicious use of brushed aluminium inside.

The whole style and design of the interior is really faultless. The attention to detail is equally impressive right down to the soft orange ambient lighting in all four door panels.

There is plenty of oddments space with ample sized door pockets, a good sized glove box, a handy net pocket in the passenger front footwell, a centre armrest incorporating a storage box which is even illuminated, and rear seat pockets.

The dashboard which reflects the angular style of the exterior is a model of clarity, with the instrument cluster being large and easy to read, housing an analogue clock on the left, a big centrally positioned speedometer and a rev counter to the right.

The heating and ventilation controls are all electronic and are easy to use. The driving position is excellent and the seats prove very comfortable and less firm than some Mercedes seats of old.

Headroom and legroom in both the front and rear is generous while wide-angle opening on the doors makes access to the cabin very easy. The boot is massive.

I was delighted to see that a spacesaver spare wheel is supplied, gone is the old can of tyre sealant which is not a reliable fix for punctures. The E-Class estate also has folding rear seats to aid versatility.

It is great to see the now comprehensive list of standard equipment on a Mercedes in comparison to the past. All latest E-Class models now have, ABS, BAS (Brake assist) SBC (sensotronic brake control) ESP (Electronic stability program) with ASR, front, side and side curtain airbags, Thermatic air conditioning, leather seat trim, light alloy wheels, multi function steering wheel, rain sensors, 6 speed manual gearbox, 10 speaker stereo system, with 6 stack in dash CD changer, engine immobiliser, central locking, four one-touch electric windows, and an outside temperature gauge.

The Elegance and Avantgarde models add a variety of other items including the superb leather upholstery on my test car, and differing trim levels while there are of course a host of extra cost options available.

Performance

The E 250 CDI is powered by a 2,143 cc four-cylinder turbo charged diesel and in this car mated to a very good auto gearbox. A Six-speed manual is standard. Power output is some 201 bhp with a whopping 500NM of torque at just 1,600 rpm. With CO2 emissions of just 163g/Km that means it costs just €447 per year to tax.

Overall performance is really excellent with massive reserves of mid range acceleration thanks to that high torque engine. 0 to 100 Km/h takes just 7.8 seconds for example, this is a truly impressive performer and with no compromise on economy as I returned an average consumption of just 7.5 litres per 100km.

As I mentioned my test car was fitted with a very capable optional automatic transmission which also has the option of being used in tiptronic form.

I did find however that I didn't use this too often as I didn't like the fact that unlike most of these systems which require a push forward on the gearlever to change up and back to change down the Mercedes gearchange is achieved by pushing the lever left for upshifts and right for downshifts which simply does not feel user-friendly. The autobox is so good you will not use the tiptronic side very often.

Road behaviour

Probably the single most impressive aspect of this car is the dynamic way in which it handles. It handles and corners with aplomb.

The other area that I was immediately impressed by is the high level of refinement with wind and road noise well suppressed. The E Class estate range starts with the E200CDI estate at €44,185.

The E250 CDI estate Avantgared costs a somewhat steeper €62,736.