Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate [W213] (2020 - 2023) used car review

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

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Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

By Jonathan Crouch

Introduction

The Mercedes E-Class Estate has always been a very classy way to carry rather a lot. The updated version of the fifth generation 'W213' model, introduced in 2020, became cleverer and more efficient than ever. A focus on downsized engines was a big draw for original customers. There was a frugal base diesel, a plug-in hybrid and, at the top of the range, fire-breathing Mercedes-AMG models to add some excitement. Overall, the whole range in this post-2020-era form just felt slicker and more desirable. It's all very impressive, particularly as you can carry up to 1,820-litres.

Models

5dr Estate (2.0 diesel [E220d] / 3.0 diesel [E300d/E300 de/E400d] / 2.0 petrol [E200] / 3.0 petrol [E400/E 53 AMG] / 4.0 petrol [E 63 AMG])

History

It used to be that if you wanted a large, plush practical estate, you bought a big Volvo. For some years now though, that role has been only fully filled by the Mercedes E-Class Estate. Rivals trade space for a bit of style, but in W213 form this car continued to prioritise practicality, with 640-litres of room on offer even before you start folding seats.

This 'W213'-series design was actually the fifth generation version to be badged 'E-Class' and was originally introduced in 2017, but here, we're looking at the facelifted model introduced in 2020. It does of course enjoy all the advantages developed for its saloon counterpart, a car offering efficient engines, astonishing technology and luxurious comfort. As part of the facelift, this W213 design gained a smarter look and quite a bit of extra technology to keep it current in the face of the various fresh or updated rivals introduced since the original launch. There were also cutting-edge driver assistance features that allowed owners to take a step closer to fully autonomous driving. The 'W213'-series E-Class Estate range sold until mid-2023, after which a new sixth generation version of this model was launched.

What You Get

One of the defining aspects of automotive design lies in creating styling characters so brand-specific that badges are hardly needed. This 'W213'-series E-Class Estate model always delivered that; it could only be a Mercedes. But what kind of Mercedes? The styling updates added to this design actually positioned this station wagon body style visually closer to the next model down in the range, the 'W206'-series C-Class Estate.

This remained though, a stylish piece of penmanship, the boxy powerfully-extended silhouette characterised by short overhangs, a long wheelbase, large wheels and taut, well-defined flanks. Broad shoulders sit above the wheel arches and the profile is defined by a powerful waist-level swage line that flows from front to rear through the door handles, while a further crease lower down sits above a distinct sill line to give the flanks some shape. This Estate version added 10mm of length over the alternative E-Class saloon and both body styles in this revised form gained revised aero-influenced wheels, rims ranging from 17 to 20-inches in size.

We should get to the update changes made as part of this mid-term facelift. There were certainly quite a few of them, as owners of earlier pre-2020-era 'W213'-series E-Class Estate models will note at the front. The swept-back power domed bonnet flows down into a grille that was turned upside down, in this revised form being wider at the bottom than the top; a little disappointingly, it was now no longer possible to have it with an upstanding bonnet ornament. The LED headlights flanking the grille were different too - and, in pricier 'AMG Line'-series variants featured Mercedes' MULTIBEAM tech with 84 individually controlled LEDs and integrated daytime running lamps. These top models also gained a bumper closer to the more assertive style of that used by the Mercedes-AMG performance versions, which gained more overt corner cut-outs characterised by twin strakes on either side.

And inside? Well take a seat up-front and if you're familiar with the original 2017-era version of this 'W213'-series E-Class design, at first glance, there won't seem to be too many improvements over what went before, but delve into the detail and you'll find that quite a lot's different, thanks to the change to the brand's more sophisticated MBUX multimedia system, physically evidenced by the switch to a centre console-mounted touchpad interface. The multimedia colour display that helps to control a pair of bonded 12.3-inch monitors was standard across the range and could also be activated by touchscreen or the provided 'Hey Mercedes' voice-activated functionality. Also improved was the steering wheel, enhanced to be a capacitive touch-sensitive design incorporating a restyle that allows for two separate bars of switchgear to be installed along the two horizontal spokes. The dash and fascia design doesn't have the dramatic, futuristic appeal of the seventh generation S-Class of this period, but at first glance, there's much the same feeling of opulence and quality. Plus the powered, heated leather seats are perfectly contoured and fitted around the driver to give ample comfort during long trips.

In the rear, the first thing you find inside is more than ample space - again, no great surprise given this E-Class model's private hire popularity, though head room might be a touch tight for those over 6 foot. 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, plus there are pronounced knee room cut-outs in the front seat backs.

Let's finish with a look at trunk room. The boot gets automatic operation for the tailgate, which rises to reveal a 640-litre space, easily the largest in the segment. It's a square, usefully-shaped area too, with 1,100mm of width between the wheel arches. Which is why this E-Class Estate is just about the only car you could choose that can accommodate a Europallet - though you might think twice about inflicting such a thing onto the immaculate carpets fitted here. In this updated W213 model, there was no longer the option of having a third row seat bench fitted back here though.

This revised model's second row rear bench seat gained additional cargo-related functionality, making it possible to position the backrest at an approximately 10-degree steeper angle. This creates an additional 30-litres of cargo volume, while continuing to enable full use to be made of five seats. In addition, 40:20:40-split for the rear backrest, long items like skis can be slid in between two rear-seated passengers.

To release the backrests, there are electric switches located in the load compartment and to the right and left next to the backrests. Use these and up to 1,820-litres of fresh air can be freed up. No segment rival can get anywhere close to that figure. Space falls by 170-litres if you opt for a Plug-in hybrid variant.

What You Pay

The post-2020-era version of this W213-series E-Class Estate values at around £500 more than the alternative saloon. Prices start at around £31,700 (around £34,750 retail) for a typical E220 petrol on a '20-plate with base 'Sport' trim, rising to around £37,900 (around £42,250 retail) for one of the last W213-series '22-plate cars.

For the E220d diesel, prices start at around £29,250 (around £33,250 retail) for a typical E220d diesel on a '20-plate with base 'Sport' trim, rising to around £33,200 (around £37,250 retail) for one of the last W213-series late-'22-plate cars. For the E300 de plug-in diesel, prices start at around £40,300 (around £44,750 retail) for a typical E300 de diesel on a '20-plate with typical 'AMG Line Premium' trim, rising to around £45,200 (around £50,750 retail) for one of the last W213-series late-'22-plate cars.

For the Mercedes-AMG E 53 4MATIC+, estate prices start at around £46,300 (around £52,750 retail) for a typical 'Premium' variant on a '20-plate, rising to around £53,600 (around £61,000 retail) for one of the last W213-series '22-plate 'Premium'-spec cars. For the top Mercedes-AMG E 63 4MATIC+ Estate, prices start at around £66,500 (around £74,500 retail) for a typical 'Night Edition Premium Plus' variant on a '20-plate, rising to around £85,300 (around £93,250 retail) for one of the last W213-series '23-plate 'Final Edition' cars. All quoted values are sourced through industry experts cap hpi. Click here for a free valuation.

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. We came across a few owners who'd experienced failed NOx sensors - there are two that are a part of the selective catalytic reduction system. The cause is usually extreme exhaust heat and replacing the sensors isn't cheap. The M274 2.0-litre petrol engine has in certain cases sustained piston damage, a consequence of issues with the wrist pin or the gudgeon pin. The OM654 2.0-litre diesel engine has exhibited very few problems except for excessive wear of the roller and roller rocker arms. This leads to rough idling and strange noises coming from the air intake system, so keep a look out for that. We also come across issues with brake judder and screeching, so look out for that on your test drive. And we've heard it reported that the body paint is rather thin and sensitive, so scratches and spots are common. Check the paintwork thoroughly. And inspect the cargo area for damage.

Some owners have reported failing LED light bulbs that illuminate the floor under the side door mirrors. And if the car you're looking at has air suspension, we understand that the relay for the AIRMATIC system is prone to failure - that relay can get stuck in the off position, meaning that the compressor won't engage and the suspension won't drop the car towards the ground. Otherwise, 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.

Replacement Parts

(approx based on a 2021 E300 de Estate - Ex Vat) An air filter is around £26. An oil filter is around £13. A fuel filter is around £36. Front brake pads sit in the £42-£84 bracket for a set (for rears it's around £63). Front brake discs cost in the £112-£127 bracket. Rear brake discs can cost in the £146 bracket. A set of wiper blades is around £42.

On the Road

Some full-sized Executive estates claim to be sporty: like versions of the BMW 5 Series Touring and Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Others, like this one, simply don't feel the need to try that hard - unless an AMG six cylinder or V8 powerplant happens to beat beneath the bonnet. It's unlikely to. This improved version of the 'W213'-series E-Class was still predominantly chosen with black pump-fuelled engines, usually the 194hp 2.0-litre diesel found in the volume E220d model. And this E-Class Estate was the only car in its segment - and virtually the only car on the market - that could be had with a diesel Plug-in hybrid powertrain. The WLTP efficiency results for that PHEV diesel variant were impressive, a combined average of 235.4mpg and up to 33g/km of CO2 - plus you get an all-electric driving range in the 30 mile bracket. All of this EQ Power tech was part of an increasing move towards engine electrification that headlined the changes made to this fifth generation E-Class Estate model.

Two of the units on offer in the range you can plug-in, the E300 de model paired with another 'EQ Boost'-badged variant, the petrol E300 e. And two others got a mere dusting of electrification in the form of the brand's mild hybrid 48-volt tech - you'll find that with the line-up's two primary petrol powerplants, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit found in the entry-level E200 and the potent in-line six cylinder unit that featured in 367hp form in the E450 and in 435hp guise with the performance-orientated E 53 model. All the more powerful bigger capacity models in the line-up had to be had with the brand's 4MATIC+ 4WD system - the 330hp E400d diesel and the two petrol Mercedes-AMG performance models (which also got full-air suspension), namely the E 53 variant already mentioned and the wild 612hp V8 E 63. We've found that each of the engines work well with the wafty, relaxed gait that characterises this Mercedes, aided by effortless changes from a further refined version of the brand's 9G-TRONIC PLUS nine-speed automatic gearbox. And the experience is further embellished by the optional 'Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC' technology many original owners specified, which allows the car to virtually drive itself in traffic jams or at highway cruising speeds.

Overall

Before this 'W213'-series E-Class Estate model appeared, the Mercedes of executive station wagons was perceived as a practical but slightly over-sensible choice in this sector. In this fifth generation form though - and particularly in the updated version of that W213 model that appeared in 2020 - it proved to be a much smarter choice, in more ways than one. In this form, the E-Class Estate feels like a car that's pricey but which offers a compelling value proposition. It drives with genuine polish, yet is capable of stepping from cruiser to carouser without breaking a sweat.

Operating the car is relatively easy and you rarely feel as if this Mercedes is imposing its will on you, unlike certain rivals from this period we could mention. The abiding impression is that this is a very carefully considered vehicle, developed by a company steeped in a proud engineering tradition. If you want to carry properly hefty loads in a car of this kind from the 2020-2023 era, yet want to do so with more than a modicum of style, this is one to place right up there with its premium rivals. It's better by design.

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