Mercedes E-Class

We’ve so far tried the E300e saloon and the E220d estate.

With a fully charged battery, the E300e defaults to Electric mode, which is as smooth and quiet as you would expect. With just 154bhp powering over two tonnes of saloon, acceleration isn’t exactly sprightly, but there’s enough punch to deal with rush-hour traffic, and it can even accelerate up to 87mph on battery alone. This makes for a serene experience for passengers, with no engine noise or gearchanges to disturb the ambience.

When the four-cylinder engine does kick in, the transition from electric power to petrol is hard to detect unless you’re giving it a bootful. This smooth handover, combined with well-suppressed wind and road noise, makes the E300e quite relaxing on the motorway.

The 220d is powered by an updated version of its predecessor’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, developing 194bhp and 324lb ft, along with 23bhp and 151lb ft from an integrated starter-generator in the front section of its standard nine-speed automatic gearbox.

They’re relatively modest reserves for a car weighing 1915kg, but with a broad spread of gear ratios and plenty of low-end flexibility to the delivery, the E220d feels reassuringly urgent.

Mechanical refinement is a strong suit. The updated engine is even quieter and smoother than its predecessor once up to operating temperature and there’s rarely ever more than a distant hum from the four-cylinder unit in automatic mode, where the gearbox chooses to shift up early in everyday driving.

Throttle dosing is first-class, giving the car excellent low-speed traits. However, the E-Class is even more impressive on the open road, where its tall gear ratios and class-leading aerodynamics make for calm progress at motorway speeds.

The accelerative performance of the E220d will never win awards, but the fuel economy just might. With a WLTP figure of between 49.6mpg and 56.5mpg, this model is remarkably frugal. So it’s a consummate, long-legged, cross-continent cruiser.

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