By Jonathan Crouch
The Mercedes E-Class Estate has always been a very classy way to carry rather a lot. This early pre-facelift 'W213'-series model was better-looking, cleverer and more efficient than ever. It was also bigger inside than rival models from Audi, BMW, Volvo and Jaguar. In short, it's a segment benchmark if you're looking at a large estate in the 2016-2020 period.
No large station wagon in the 2016-2020 period took the conquest of space more seriously than this one, the tenth generation 'W213'-series pre-facelift version of the Mercedes E-Class Estate.
It used to be that if you wanted a large, plush practical estate, you bought a big Volvo. By 2016 though, that role was being more completely filled by the Mercedes E-Class Estate. Rival of the time traded space for a bit of style but this car continued to prioritise practicality, with 670-litres of room on offer even before customers started folding seats.
This tenth generation E-Class Estate of course enjoys all the advantages developed for its saloon counterpart, a car offering impressive technology and luxurious comfort. There were also cutting-edge driver assistance features that even allowed owners to take a step closer to fully autonomous driving.
The engine range too, was a big step forward from the previous generation model, with a line-up of efficient downsized powerplants that in period rated amongst the standard-setters in this sector. Plus there was even an SUV-style 'All-Terrain' variant. The 'W213' E-Class Estate sold in this form until 2020, when it was significantly facelifted. It's the'2016-2020-era pre-facelift models we look at here.
What You Get
The looks and appearance of any car are subjective, but it's hard to argue against the assertation that this tenth generation E-Class is a very handsome machine. It was a touch larger than it's 'W212'-series predecessor, but you're more likely to notice the sportier, more confident demeanour and a more graceful sense of style borrowed from the larger S-Class model.
Take a seat inside and the extent to which the changes continue will depend quite a lot on the spec you've chosen. Entry-level models get conventional instruments and a central dash 8.4-inch central monitor, but if you opt to get a car whose original owner upgraded to the COMMAND Online system, things change quite significantly. The central display is upgraded to 12.3-inches in size and you'll find this usually linked to a virtual instrument display of the same size, creating one huge 'floating'-style screen that's framed by subtle ambient lighting.
Build quality is predictably faultless and the 'AMG Line' trim most original buyers chose extends the interior's leather finish to the upper part of the dash along with classy contrast stitching, a package that really lifts the interior. We have to mention the leather seats too. They're perfectly contoured and fitted around the driver to give ample comfort during long trips. In the rear, the first thing you find is more than ample space - no great surprise given this E-Class model's popularity as an up-market private hire vehicle. If the front passengers have their seats at the lowest setting, you might find room for your feet slightly limited, but otherwise the rear footwells are big and broad.
And the boot? Well, it features a powered tailgate which raises to reveal the largest luggage area in the class, rated at 640-litres. Small wonder that Mercedes were the only brand in this segment in this period able to offer the option of a couple of extra boot-mounted chairs, though for some reason, you couldn't have that on the 'All-Terrain' variant. If you're able to flatten the main parts of the back seat, you'll do it via the neat buttons you'll find on either side of the cargo sidewalls (and you'll find further ones just inside the rear doors). Once you've activated these, a capacity of up to 1,820-litres can be freed up.
What to Look For
Most E-Class Estate (W213-series) owners in our survey were satisfied, but inevitably, there were some who'd experienced problems. It's the usual things here; interior trim and electrical issues were the most commonly afflicted things that came up. Check for uneven panel gaps and paint flaws. Inspect the electrics and the air conditioning functionality - it should blow our really chilled air. As usual, insist on a fully stamped-up service history.
(approx based on a 2017 E220d Estate - Ex Vat) An air filter is around £52. An oil filter is around £26. A fuel filter is around £66. Front brake pads sit in the £85 bracket for a set (for rears it's around £65). Front brake discs cost in the £278-£364 bracket. Rear brake discs can cost in the £457 bracket. A set of wiper blades is around £70. A pollen filter is around £6-£20.
On the Road
On the move, you quickly find that Mercedes has achieved an excellent balance between comfort, refinement and agility with this W213-series MK10 E-Class. It's as happy easing through town as it is covering great highway distances - but then you'd expect that. More surprising is how at home it feels on twistier roads, particularly if you've got a model fitted with the impressive 'AIR BODY CONTROL' pneumatic suspension that can be fine-tuned with the 'DYNAMIC SELECT' driving modes controller. More technology is provided by the optional 'DRIVE PILOT' system that when activated, allows the car to pretty much drive itself, working with the adaptive cruise control and active steering systems to keep the E-Class rolling in its chosen lane at any chosen speed up to 130mph.
On to engines - and the key ones will be the two diesels that almost all buyers will want. There's a 258bhp 3.0-litre six cylinder diesel unit fitted to the E350d, but most will prefer the 194bhp four cylinder powerplant installed in the volume E220d variant. This all-new 2.0-litre engine is right up there with the best in class for refinement. Even when pressed hard, it refuses to be noisy or harsh, which all adds to the luxury feel. It also makes a solid business case thanks to 72.4mpg combined consumption and 102g/km carbon dioxide emissions. If you really don't want to fuel from the black pump but need efficient returns, then Mercedes also offered a 2.0-litre petrol/electric E350e Plug-in hybrid variant with a 20 mile all-electric driving range. There was a diesel plug-in too. There were also the usual Mercedes-AMG petrol sporting variants. The range was launched with a V6-engined E 43 mid-range sporting variant, replaced in 2019 by an E 53 model with an evolved version of the same engine featuring EQ Power mild hybrid tech. At the top of the range is the V8 4.0-litre E63 model, offered in either standard or uprated 'S' guises, the latter boasting a thumping 612hp.
This pre-facelift 'W213'-series E-Class Estate model was a cutting-edge statement of Mercedes style and technology from the 2016-2020 period. Unlike rivals, Mercedes didn't compromise here on overall space in pursuit of sleeker styling, yet this car still makes a compelling driveway statement. Of course, pricing is pitched at premium levels. And the handling prioritises comfort rather than anything more dynamic. But if those two issues don't bother you, then there's plenty here to like.
Which means that if you want to carry properly hefty loads in a car of this kind, yet want to do so with more than a modicum of style, this one remains the segment benchmark from its period. It's better by design.