Prestige comes no more highly regarded than with a Mercedes; perceived as a cut above rivals Audi, BMW, Jaguar and Lexus, the E-Class sums up everything that's great about the world's oldest car maker. Comfortable, well-equipped, safe and practical, the E-Class saloon makes a superb family car. Opt for one of the amazingly capacious estates and you get all this plus one of the biggest load bays available anywhere.
6/02: The third-generation E-Class saloon arrives.
8/02: The 476bhp 5.4-litre V8 E55 AMG debuts.
5/03: The E-Class estate goes on sale.
11/04: The E350 supersedes the E320.
6/05: The E280 replaces the E240 and the E280CDi supersedes the E220CDi.
7/06: A facelifted E-Class debuts, with fresh bumpers and lights along with extra equipment. The E63 AMG also arrives.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2002-2009) Checklist
- Buy an auto, as selling on a manual car can prove tricky. Also go for a car with leather.
- Some early cars were badly made; check very carefully before buying.
- The E320CDi's fuel pump can leak diesel onto the cooling system pipes, requiring new pump and pipes.
- The E320CDi's fuel injectors can fail within 60,000 miles; replacements are costly. The injectors can also seize into the cylinder head, requiring a costly new cylinder head.
- The transmission oil cooler of automatics is sited in the radiator matrix; failure can lead to the transmission being destroyed.
- Listen for tinkling as the revs rise on an E320CDi; this points to failure of the ceramic matrix in the catalytic converter.
- The front springs can break, allowing the car to collapse.
We Don't Like
- High purchase prices
- High running costs
- Potential unreliability