Mercedes-Benz E-Class review

What's the updated Mercedes E-Class like in plug-in hybrid diesel E 300 de format?

Pros: performance, interior, front-end design

Cons: boot shape, car weight, stance

This year, Mercedes revised its entire E-Class line-up, from saloon to estate and even the two-door Coupe and Cabriolet models. The revisions extended to a restyled exterior, reworked cabin, more equipment and technology and a raft of significant engine updates. Here we test it in E 300 de guise, which is a plug-in hybrid using a diesel engine.

Mercedes E-Class Design

We really like the new nose of the Mercedes E-Class. It gets smaller headlights and a larger grille than before, which somehow manages to make the car look more compact. The rear lights have been redesigned, too, though the long rear overhang remains, and it detracts from the car’s appearance a tad. Still, it’s a handsome and classy executive saloon by any measure.

Mercedes E-Class Interior

Inside, the E-Class is spacious as ever for four, with a fifth squeezing into the middle of the back seat when necessary. The quality of the materials is high, and the switchgear is all tactile to use. Digital instruments are now standard on the E-Class, though buyers can upgrade the ‘MBUX’ dashboard to higher spec, too. It’s a great system either way once you get used to where everything is. Marking out the updated car’s interior is a new steering wheel. It comes with redesigned controls and the rim itself has capacitive sensing so that the car knows when the driver is holding it, even without any steering inputs. It’s worth noting here that the E 300 de model’s boot is greatly compromised by the hybrid powertrain, holding 160 litres less than fits into other E-Class models, and it has a prominent step in the floor that may well put buyers off.

Mercedes E-Class Performance & Drive

The E 300 de is an interesting option, supposedly offering the best of diesel and electric power. Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, while there’s a powerful electric motor and a large battery pack, too. Charged up fully, this car can travel over 50 kilometres on electric power alone. Theoretically it would be ideal for the type of driver that needs the proven long-distance economy of a diesel and yet the zero-emissions capability of an electric car for driving through urban areas. It works well enough, though the result of all the hardware is that this E-Class is very heavy. That reduces its efficiency somewhat. There’s no doubting this car’s performance, though, with up to 306hp and 700Nm of torque when both the engine and electric motor work together.

Mercedes E-Class Pricing

The updated E-Class range starts at €52,500 for the E 200 d, while this E 300 de variant is about €60,000 including the SEAI grant for plug-in vehicles. We’re not convinced that it’s worth the premium, despite the considerable increase in performance. The E-Class is available in Avantgarde, Exclusive, AMG Line Exterior and AMG Line trim levels, though the E 300 de is only available in the latter two specifications.

Carzone Verdict 3/5

Our three-star rating here is specific to the E 300 de model as we believe it’s too compromised a car and one that’s not really of use to the average Irish buyer, especially given its price premium. If you’re a low-mileage driver, you’d be better served by the petrol-electric E 300 e, while those that ply the motorway all day are likely to find that the excellent non-hybrid diesel models are still the best tool for that job.

Test Car Details:  

Model driven: Mercedes-Benz E 300 de AMG Line Exterior

Price: E-Class from €52,500

Hybrid system: 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, 90kW electric motor and 13.5kWh battery

Transmission: automatic

Annual motor tax: €140 (from 2021)

0-100km/h: 5.9 seconds

Power: 306hp

Boot space: 370 litres

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