Excellent, solid mid-sized Mercedes. But it lacks the sparkle to make it a great car.
This is where the E scores highly. Mercedes hasn't attempted to make a sporty mid-sized exec, just a very good one. So ride comfort both on A-roads, in town and on larger routes is very well-judged and the auto 'boxes (five-speeders on the four-pots and 7G-Tronic seven-speeders on the V6s, E500 and AMG V8) are very nice to use. There's no false modesty here - just a well put together, quiet and efficient car.
Think about this: nine out of 10 new Es sold in the UK in the final days of the last generation were diesel. Now, there's a 2.15-litre four-cylinder diesel on offer that does duty in the E200, E220 and E250CDI, though with different outputs for each. The top E250CDI humps out 204hp and 369lb ft, good for 62mph in 8.2 seconds, 151mph and comfortably over 50mpg on the combined cycle. The bigger engines are V6s, topped off with the V8s in the E500 (388bhp) and E63 AMG (518bhp, 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, 155ph max and 22.4mpg).
The E isn't cool so much as superbly rational. People will respect the choice, but it won't tempt a Page 3 girlfriend.
Merc back on form here with a car that might lack the techno-festival of the S-Class, but nevertheless remains a sober, solid performer. Feels like it'll go for ages if the materials and fit are anything to go by - and it'll need to; it's going to end up as a German beige taxi doing 120,000km a year, isn't it?
There's no pretention to making the E-Class the best handling car in the class, but that doesn't mean that it is actively bad, more that it is definitely more skewed towards driving comfort. OK, so the E63 will be mental, but the normal cars are comfortable and stately rather than tyre-smoking. This car is great for long journeys, less so for honing about. It might lean a bit on tight corners, but it also soaks up potholes like a good 'un. A decent trade off for the type of car, we reckon.
Mercedes has the CLS for being all swoopy, so the E-Class is actually quite boxy. And boxy is good when you're talking practicality. There's a huge boot, great space for real humans in the front and the back and a general feeling that you could live your life in this car - something that those Berlin taxi drivers might well end up doing. Add to that efficient engines and you're on to a winner.
Even that most powerful version of the 2.15-litre diesel gets comfortably over 50mpg and only chucks out 139g/km of C02. The story is the same across the revised range: better torque, reduced C02, better efficiency. Residuals will undoubtedly be good, insurance mid-level depending on engine (the E63 will be supercar-unfriendly on your wallet), and the general ownership prospect looks very healthy.