PROS: Comfortable ride, luxurious interior, good fuel economy, low CO2 emissions
CONS: Divisive looks, the engine can be a little noisy at higher revs
This is the same engine used in the cheaper 200 CDI but with a higher power output. 0-62mph takes 8.7 seconds and flat out you'll be doing 143mph. The engine can be a little noisy and the petrol models are more refined but the 220 CDI does an admirable job of moving the car around with a minimum of fuss.
Sport models are fitted with stiffer springs and dampers as well as 18-inch AMG alloy wheels. The steering is light and the Merc is easy to drive - where the 5 Series' natural home is the B-road, the E-Class excels on the motorway, offering supreme comfort and refinement. If you're an enthusiastic driver, however, you're better off with the 5 Series or the A6.
The E-Class has been thoroughly updated in the looks department and is more aggressively styled than before. It still retains the classic Mercedes grille but some of the styling tweaks do make the car look a little odd. Overall though, the E 220 CDI is elegantly styled and offers a more mature and elegant appearance than the Beemer.
The interior of the E-Class is sumptuously appointed and looks sensational. There are some cheaper plastics in places - Mercedes doesn't seem to be able to shed its recently acquired reputation of building ever-so-slightly substandard cars - but overall the interior is a luxurious place to be. Most of the vehicle controls are operated by the central screen and control joystick, leaving the dashboard less cluttered with buttons, adding to the classy look.
In terms of standard equipment you get man-made leather seats, climate control and parking sensors. A CD player with MP3 connectivity, Bluetooth, cruise control and electric windows are also fitted as standard but sat-nav will set you back a further £785.
Mercedes were determined to iron out the reliability problems that have plagued their cars of late and the E-Class was tested thoroughly before being put on sale, racking up 21 million miles in development. Mercedes is convinced that the new car will be more reliable than its predecessor.
There is plenty of space in the E 220 CDI. Rear legroom is not an issue and the boot is most capacious at 540-litres.
Nine airbags, ABS and stability control are all fitted as standard as the E-Class received the full five star rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests.
Emissions in this model are 139g/km putting it in car tax band E and you should achieve 56.5mpg on the combined cycle.
The Merc's purchase price of £34,340 is also very reasonable, if slightly higher than the competition. However, when it comes to sell, you should get a lot of your money back thanks to the Mercedes' excellent residual values.
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