If you fancy a new E-Class these days, £35,205 will get you on the road in an entry-level E200d SE saloon. It’s a lot of car for the money, but it’s very easy to bump that price up significantly with a few ‘must-have’ options.
Our long-term test car started out as a £38,430 E220d AMG Line saloon but, by the time pretty much every box on the option list was ticked, it came in at a whopping £55,480. Those ‘essential items’ included 20in AMG alloys at £595, Nappa leather at £1,595 and the gorgeous matt grey paint job at £1,795.
It’s a pretty car to start with, but once the kit’s added it turns more heads than you’d expect for a 2.0-litre diesel Mercedes.
Other than a slightly-less-than intuitive infotainment system, I can’t fault it – the interior quality is up there in S-Class territory, the new diesel engine is very quiet, refined and fuel-efficient, and the handling has enough of an edge when you want it while still wafting you around in great comfort the rest of the time.
Personally, I find its 194bhp and 0–62mph time of 7.3 seconds more than enough performance for the bulk of the time – but I guess every now and then a few extra horses are nice, so I was interested to drive the AMG E43 4MATIC for a long weekend.
Prices for that start at £57,275, which is less than £2k more than my fully loaded 220d, and being a proper AMG car it comes with much of the kit as standard.
In fact, although our test car had £10,000 worth of options, aside from red seatbelts and stitching on the seats, it looked pretty much identical to my regular car. With 400bhp on tap it’s obviously fast – but not proper push-you-back-into-your-seat fast.
For that you’ll need to stretch to the £88,000, 604bhp E63 AMG S, which has got my colleagues into a lather – they’re all wondering how the forthcoming new M5 can possibly be better than the Merc.
I must be getting old, though, because taking everything into account – even the extra horsepower – as a daily driver, I’d go for a carefully specced E220d AMG Line any day of the week.