Mercedes E-Class (2009-2016)

For many, a Mercedes represents the pinnacle of automotive engineering and prestige, and when you look at an E-Class it’s easy to see why. Beautifully built, brilliantly engineered and bristling with safety tech, the Mercedes E-Class is a cut above most of its rivals. With the fourth-generation edition, codenamed W212 by Mercedes, the German company excelled itself with a range of highly desirable saloons, estates, coupés and cabriolets. Expensive when new, these cars aren’t as exclusive as you might think and as a result they can represent excellent value as a used buy – but while the Merc’s efficient engines can be more parsimonious than you might think, running costs can also be high. Still, sometimes it’s worth making sacrifices.

Key dates

6/09: The Mk4 E-Class saloon and coupé arrive. There are E200, E250, E350 and E500 CGI petrol saloons, along with E200, E220, E250 and E350 CDI diesels.

8/09: The 525bhp E63 AMG debuts.

1/10: The capacious estate reaches showrooms, with the same engines as the saloon.

3/10: There’s now an E-Class cabriolet.

11/12: The E300 BlueTec hybrid debuts.

3/13: A facelifted E-Class brings revised exterior styling, extra equipment, cleaner engines and SE or AMG Sport trims in place of the previous SE, Avantgarde and Sport.

9/14: A refresh brings extra standard equipment, a nine-speed automatic transmission and more efficient engines.


  • Each successive trim level increases fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, so potentially the road tax cost.
  • All facelifted autos have seven speeds; before this (March 2013), four-cylinder automatic E-Classes got only five speeds.
  • This is a great family car, but the transmission tunnel hinders anyone in the middle of the rear seat.
  • The factory-fitted diamond-cut alloys can corrode under the lacquer, but they’re refurbished easily enough.
  • Some diesel models were fitted with faulty injectors, so check for misfiring and black exhaust smoke.
  • Folding rear seats are only optional in the saloon, so find a car that features them if practicality is key. They really boost the car’s practicality.
  • The four-cylinder engines are quick enough, but can be harsh; the six-cylinder units are much smoother, and still decently economical.

We like

  • Strength
  • Image
  • Refinement
  • Spacious cabin
  • Efficient engines
  • Value
  • Build quality
  • Reliability
  • Wide model range
  • Safety levels

We don’t like

  • Not that exclusive
  • Potentially high running costs


Mercedes E-Class (2002-2009)

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.

Key Dates

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 Like

  • Style
  • Space
  • Safety
  • Image

We Don't Like

  • High purchase prices
  • High running costs
  • Potential unreliability