Mercedes E 220d Estate review
Large executive estate cars can be one of the only models you ever need buy. Offering high levels of comfort, performance, equipment, and practicality, an exec estate just about has it all. It's with high expectations then that we test the Mercedes Benz E Class Estate - the company's big-booted version of the excellent and stylish saloon.
Review by Chris Lilly
The E 220d test car was kitted out with Mercedes' 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbo diesel unit, which produces 194hp and 400Nm of torque. It's a silky smooth unit, with a great slug of torque low down the rev-range. When partnered with Mercedes' nine-speed automatic gearbox - pushing power to the rear wheels - the powertrain combines to superb effect. The transmission shifts seamlessly and is rarely caught out in having 'too many' ratios. Instead, the E Class Estate is a very flexible car to drive, with the Mercedes leaning on the torquey unit throughout. The E Class Estate is in its element cruising at motorway speeds, but the powertrain works perfectly well around town or on an open road too, providing a refined driving experience. The 0-62mph sprint is completed in 7.7 seconds which is pretty decent for a car that weighs almost 1,800kg. Topping out at 146mph, the E Class Estate can certainly shift then. It's at its least comfortable on a twisty road with plenty of elevation changes that require constant gear changes, but the rest of the time, the E 220d Estate's powertrain is a peach.
Don't expect the E Class Estate to be able to keep up with a hot-hatch down your favourite driving road - not that you would really anyway. Leave that sort of performance estate to Mercedes' AMG arm. Now that we've got that aspect of driving out of the way, we can focus on the exceptional levels of comfort the E Class Estate provides. Maximum wafting capability is assured with the purchase of the E Class - and the estate version is no different. The suspension is supple enough to deal with all but the most vicious of pot holes, and brushes away inconsistencies in the road surface without any effort. The car doesn't pitch and roll under braking unduly, remaining surprisingly level throughout considering the bias towards comfort. The suspension is not the only strength though. The steering is light but not overly so. It just means that piloting such a large car around a car park isn't a problem.
As you would expect from an estate, the E Class is an extremely practical proposition - especially considering the load area. Boot space is good with the seats up and cavernous with them folded flat. It's not just the size of the boot that's noteworthy though but the access. The lip is low, with no step from it to the boot floor, and the opening is wide too. As a tip-run/Ikea-visit machine, there aren't too many better this side of a van. Further forward, front seat occupants can relax in luxurious levels of space considering there is a large-ish transmission tunnel taking up space that your knees might have otherwise required. Those in the rear seats have ample room, though not a huge surplus. I suppose if you want the full-limo effect, Mercedes would prefer you to upgrade to the S Class. Still, there will be few complaints from even tall passengers sitting behind a tall driver on even the longest of trips.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Passengers throughout benefit from some top quality seats, and as you might expect, those up front get the best of the lot. The driver's seat is not just comfortable but practically actively relaxing, and enables cross-country drives to be tackled without a hint of a back twinge. They're as supportive laterally as you would expect from a car that doesn't encourage vigorous driving, while those in the rear will be more than happy with their lot unless they live a far more luxurious lifestyle than could reasonably be expected. The cabin has a relatively button-tastic feel to it considering Mercedes provides a track-pad/rotary dial to control the various systems. This is a good set-up but not the most intuitive on the market. This says more about rival efforts than it does about any Mercedes shortcomings though. The main downside is that, though it can make in-depth tasks on the car's infotainment system quite simple, the inverse is also true. Basic controls can be over complicated, but here at least Mercedes has provided physical buttons that give shortcuts to the key elements such as radio, media, air-con, and sat-nav. It's a slightly odd system, but it works well on the whole and users get the hang of where everything lives quite quickly. Most eye-catching of all though is the option of a huge dual screen display, that uses one piece of glass to cover both the driver's digital instruments, and the infotainment screen - with both living in their normal spots. It's a clear system, though not the fastest around, but is a real stand-out and a lovely feature to have if the funds stretch that far. Finally, the cabin in general is designed beautifully, mirroring the swoopy exterior, and it feels as solidly put together as you would expect from an executive Merc.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Considering the E 220d Estate is fairly sprightly in terms of performance, the Mercedes does a very good job at being a fuel-sipping machine too. Official figures of 67.3 MPG and 109 g/km CO2 are good for a car of this size and weight, and the real-world fuel economy is far from shabby too. I ended up with a figure above the 60 MPG threshold after a mix of driving styles, but there was a 150 mile trip that ended with the car showing me 76.3 MPG - and there were no hyper-mileing techniques employed to get this figure. Tax costs will vary depending on how you specify the E Class Estate. The model is available for less than £40,000, keeping the annual cost at £140 after the first year and avoiding the £310 premium add-on for years 2-6. The first year rate for the model tested is £140 though this is included in the car's OTR.
The diesel units used in the E Class range are Mercedes' latest line-up and have had serious money invested in them to make them as clean as is currently possible. Weight has been reduced by more than 40kg, and low-friction elements have taken their development lead from motorsport teams. The use of AdBlue and an SCR cleans up the exhaust gases too. Mercedes provides a drive mode select system on the E Class, which includes an eco mode. This improves efficiency be reducing the drain from the auxiliary systems, while also deadening throttle response and making the automatic gearbox change up sooner. Haptic feedback on the throttle sees it 'kick' back when it thinks you can come off the gas, and the car will coast at higher speeds when you're not on the throttle too. There's a coaching and scoring system to show you how well you're doing from an economical driving point of view, and improve your driving style should you wish. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 40.
Standard kit on the E 220d Estate SE includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, and 8.4-inch multimedia display with Garmin sat-nav, DAB Radio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity. It also includes Parking Pilot with reversing camera and sensors, cruise control with variable limiter, active brake assist, automatic wipers, keyless entry and start, 64 colour ambient lighting, agility control suspension, dynamic mode select, and AMG multi-function leather steering wheel. It's basically got everything you consider 'essential' in a car, plus a whole load you might never have thought of full stop. Added to the test car was the Premium plus package which included a panoramic glass sunroof, Burmester surround sound system, and multi-beam LED headlights, at a cost of a little under £4,000. Also added was the Driving assistance plus package at just over £1,500 which included a number of safety features. Active blind spot and lane keep assist, active brake assist and evasive steering assist, active lane change assist, and Drive Pilot are included in that bundle. The Comand online system adds almost another £1,500, while the widescreen 12.3-inch cockpit display adds almost £500.
It's expensive - there's no getting away from that fact - but the E Class Estate is a similar cost to rivals such as the BMW 5 Series Touring. Apart from that, there is very little wrong with the big Mercedes. It will deal with everything family life can throw at it and covers huge distances with no bother and little fuel used. It's a comfortable barge that's surprisingly agile, and a great recommendation for anyone that doesn't prioritise pin-sharp driving dynamics from their executive workhorse.
Model tested: Mercedes Benz E 220d SE Estate
Body-style: Executive estate
Engine / CO2: 2.0 litre 194hp turbo diesel / 109 g/km
Trim grades: SE, AMG Line
On-road price: From £38,655. Price as tested £48,285.
Warranty: Three years / unlimited mileage
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 Stars