New E-class embraces tradition

It seems that Mercedes has realised its future lies behind it, with the result that this all-new E-class is the most traditional feeling mid-sized Mercedes since the launch of the W124 a quarter of a century ago.

It must also be the first executive German saloon in decades that feels not only less sporting than its predecessor, but better for it. Beautifully controlled but soft springing means it rides extremely well, while what was already the most roomy cabin in the class has been made more spacious still.

Best of all for fans of old school Mercedes, this one has an air of indestructibility, finally laying to rest the spectre of the last but one E-class which so damaged Mercedes’ reputation for engineering excellence.

You don’t need to be told its biggest problem, because you can see it clearly. Not only does this E-class look awkward, particularly around the headlights, but more concerning is that this look appears to be part of Mercedes’ new design philosophy, likely to be reprised in forthcoming models.

But it is lovely to drive and handles well despite its cosseting ride. The multi-cylinder petrol models are smooth and sophisticated but 85 per cent of sales will go to diesel, and with an E250 model that will do 150mph yet return 53mpg, it’s not difficult to see why.