Motoring: The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has upped its game

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The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has always been a decent car, but it’s spent most of its life in the shadows on the BMW 5 Series.

Mercedes has upped its game in recent years, though, with more dynamism in its designs, consigning to the history bin its reputation of making big saloons for older people.

It has also introduced some plug-in hybrid versions, including the one driven here, the E300e.

While traditional petrol and diesels are offered with some mild-hybrid tech, the E300e comes with a 2.0-litre petrol mated to an electric motor. It is good enough for 320PS and a 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds. That is not bad for a big saloon car.

And the Mercedes-Benz does this while emitting a ridiculously low 35g/km of CO2, managing as much as 188mpg – figures the mild-hybrids can’t even dream of.

It will even do 34 miles of all-electric driving at motorway speeds, and a full charge takes 90 minutes from a 7.4kW home wall box.

In AMG Line trim, as tested, you get some sporty bodywork, along with 18-inch alloys, a wireless phone charger, adaptive LED headlights and heated leather seats. The model also houses dual-zone climate control, a digital instrument cluster and an infotainment system that includes navigation as well as Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

The engine is smooth and quiet, only producing any noise when you rev hard. And, pulling off the line, the extra torque provided by the electric motor makes a noticeable difference to the pace.

While big saloons don’t make for the best handling cars, Mercedes has done an excellent job. But the excitement is to be found in the rival 5 Series, with Mercedes tuning the E-Class more for comfort over cornering prowess, despite the AMG Line moniker.

The plug-in E-Classes have even softer suspension, so there’s more lean in the bends. An equivalent 5 Series handles more keenly, but if you want to buy a driving experience, a sporty-trimmed C-Class or 3 Series may be a better fit.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of grip and the steering is precise, although feedback through the wheel could be better.

Around town, the ride can be a little bouncy, but it soon settles at anything over 40mph, making the E-Class a sublime motorway cruiser.

The interior is lovely, with very comfortable seats, helped by adjustable lumbar support.

The infotainment system is impressive, too, with a responsive screen and intuitive menu options. Voice control is included as well, making things even simpler.

The Merc’s digital instrument cluster provides all the information you could want to know, including the remaining battery levels.

There is a decent amount of space inside, especially in the front, and there’s a lot of storage room in the cabin.

The boot capacity is only 370 litres, reduced from 540 litres in the mild hybrids, as the E300e loses underfloor storage due to the batteries.

Safety equipment is packed into the E-Class as standard, featuring semi-autonomous parking, front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, and blind spot assist.

Unsurprisingly, the E-Class has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, and you get a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty.

Overall, the E-Class is comfy, full of equipment and offers excellent economy in plug-in hybrid form. But is the plug-in version worth it? Indeed – the Benefit in Kind saving is especially significant if you’re a company car driver.

Fast Facts – Mercedes-Benz E-Class [E300e AMG Line] as tested:

Max speed: 155 mph

0-62 mph: 5.8 secs

Fuel economy: 188 mpg (WLTP)

Engine layout: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with electric motor

Max. power (PS): 320

CO2: 35 g/km

Price: £57,225

Main Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Tim Barnes-Clay

Tim Barnes-Clay is Sorted Magazine’s Motoring Editor. He test-drives the latest cars and attends new vehicle press launches around the world. The dad-of-three has a postgraduate diploma in broadcast journalism and has been a presenter and producer at ITV Central. He has also worked as a radio reporter and undertakes video and voiceover work. You can follow and interact with Tim on Instagram @tbarnesclay
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