VW Passat CC
The E-Class is the epicentre of the Mercedes brand, and so of all the things it has to be, the clear number one is that it has to be solid. Solid as in unbreakable, safe, respectable and conservative. If you want excitement and frivolity, you’ve come to the wrong place. The only thing about it that aims to tickle your fancy is the slightly over-ornate exterior styling, and I’m not a big fan. The front end seems confused; the back, derivative. The side view is fine, though, and I can see it working well as an estate – we’ll know later this year.
Almost nine out of 10 Es sold in Britain last year were diesels, and I can’t see that reversing with the new one. There’s a staggering new diesel engine on offer. It’s only 2.15-litres and comes in various outputs as the E200/220/250CDI. The E250CDI version kicks out 204bhp and will do the 0-62 thing in just 8.2secs. If you think 200bhp-plus is good for a 2.15-litre four-cylinder diesel, consider that the torque figure more or less matches Merc’s mid-1990s 6.0-litre petrol V12. And yet it does better than 50mpg in the EU test. The E250CDI’s outputs are actually embarrassingly close to the V6 E350CDI’s.