If you were going to list the key attributes any executive saloon needed to posses, it would read like a checklist for the new Mercedes E-Class: style, space, comfort and an element of luxury, efficiency, performance and technology.
The updated E received a mid-life boost earlier this year, which elevated it to the top of its class. As well as some styling tweaks designed to bring its look into line with newer models of the family, Mercedes’ revised MBUX infotainment system, complete with twin 12.3-inch screens, was key to the upgrades.
With more connectivity, sharper graphics and features such as augmented reality for the sat-nav, it’s as advanced as in-car tech comes. That’s supported by the availability of Mercedes’ excellent semi-autonomous driver aids – which will help take the strain off during the long motorway trips cars like this routinely make – as well as a strong level of safety tech, because these saloons (the E-Class is also available as an estate, coupé or convertible) double as family transport for many buyers, too.
There’s pure-diesel power, mild-hybrid petrol or a pair of plug-ins available. The E 220 d is still the entry point, and a fine power unit with even more refinement, but for business users the E 300 e (petrol) and E 300 de (diesel) EQ Power plug-ins could be of more interest, with a claimed all-electric range of 34 miles for both cars and efficiency of up to 235.4mpg for the diesel PHEV. When you consider that it takes just 90 minutes to recharge its 13.5kWh battery using a home wallbox, it shows how far this class has come.
The E-Class rides as well as ever, absorbing bumps with a languid flow to its damping to deliver plenty of comfort to occupants. While the saloon handles well enough, it’s the refinement and quality the Mercedes offers that’s key.
New versions of rivals are set to hit the market soon, with updated plug-in powertrains, so the Mercedes faces a stiff challenge in the future, but the ability that has cemented the E-Class in top spot in this Executive Car class means it has the potential to reign supreme for some time to come.
Mercedes E 220 d AMG Line (£41,555)
AMG Line trim offers style and substance, with nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as part of the dual-widescreen infotainment display, plus heated seats and wireless phone charging on top of some strong safety kit. The 220 d engine combines refinement, punch and efficiency, claiming economy of 53.3mpg.
With a plug-in model joining the range, the high-tech, well built and spacious A6 delivers an incredible breadth of ability across the range. Audi’s usual level of infotainment and quality means the A6 is a tempting alternative to the E-Class.
If you don’t want a German saloon but do like the idea of electrification, with plug-in hybrid power offering huge performance and efficiency potential, the Volvo S90 offers a slice of Scandi cool with real eco appeal, too.