Handsome new load hauler remains a cut above the flashier luxury-car competition

What is it?

The problem with being top dog is that you can fall flat whenever you’re forced to change.

Which is why the latest Mercedes E-class estate sticks closely to the virtues of its strong-selling predecessors. That means it avoids the sportier, style-led approach of some rivals, and holds to the conventional, upright design that Merc buyers know well.

What’s it like?

While the exterior boasts an edgy new look as well as slightly larger dimensions all round, Mercedes has ensured that the new E-Class wagon is still the load capacity leader.

Its 695-litre boot may be no bigger than the outgoing model’s, but it beats the Audi A6 Avant by 130 litres and the BMW 5-series Touring by 195 litres. And with the rear seats folded down, capacity increases to 1950 litres – again, well up on the competition.

But it’s the ease of use that’s most impressive. An electrically operated tailgate, for instance, is now standard across the range, and two levers at the rear of the cargo bay allow you to drop the rear seat backs without having to walk around and open the rear doors.

Criticisms? As in the C-class estate, the rear seat bases no longer hinge forward, so the front section of the load bay isn’t perfectly flat. Nor does the front passenger’s seat fold down, limiting the overall length of the load bay.

No fewer than nine engines are on offer, from a 134bhp 2.1-litre diesel to a 383bhp 5.5-litre petrol V8. We drove the E250 CDI with a twin-turbo version of Merc’s latest 2.1-litre, common-rail diesel feeding a five-speed automatic gearbox.

With 201bhp and 369lb ft, the engine works hard. There’s real shove from low down and great mid-range tractability. The best bit, though, is the combined fuel figure of 48.7mpg. But watch out: this model gets a 59-litre fuel tank; petrol versions have an 80-litre tank.

Dynamically, the E250 CDI leaves little to be desired. It’s a big car that drives small on winding roads. The steering is light but precise, and its wonderfully composed ride continues to set the E-class estate apart.

Should I buy one?

If you’re in the market for a big estate, then this still deserves to be the default choice. It keeps the old model’s key attributes of comfort and space, and improves on them with better engines and sharper looks.

In short, it’s still a good ’un.

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Add a comment…
Cromwell 21 October 2009

Re: Mercedes E250 CDI Estate

My 2006 B Class was rusting, really puts me off the brand too!

Ski Kid 14 October 2009

Re: Mercedes E250 CDI Estate

I have seen some pretty bad examples of e class cars rusting and wandered if it is due to being manufactured in South Africa as some right hand drive cars are made there.

VX220EDDIE 14 October 2009

Re: Mercedes E250 CDI Estate

have to agree mercedes have really nailed this class over the years! the e class has deserved its success over the years in saying that though so has the 5 series! its just audi that for me has never really got it with the A6 but nevertheless this will sell and deservedly so........ as a matter of interest does anyone know if mercedes has sorted out their rusting problems over early models? this is the only thing that would put me off buying one in that fear of it rusting away