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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
The E320 Bluetec, meanwhile, is the only midsize luxury sedan to come with a diesel-fueled engine
E350 is stately from a stop but gathers speed quickly and has fine passing power
In addition to a more aggressive suspension, the available Sport Package includes more powerful brakes
Kelley Blue Book
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class features one of the most diverse engine and transmission lineups in the luxury sedan market.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is unique in that it is the only luxury sedan available with a diesel engine. "Being a diesel," reports Edmunds, "it boasts superior fuel mileage and plentiful torque." The Mercedes-Benz 2008 E320 features a 3.2-liter V-6 diesel that produces 210 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Other engine choices include a 3.5-liter V-6 (E350) that produces 268 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque; a 5.5-liter V-8 (E550) that produces 382 hp and 391 pound-feet; and a massive 6.2-liter V-8 (E63 AMG) that produces 507 hp and 465 pound-feet.
The "manic" Mercedes-Benz 2008 E63 (as described by Edmunds) can hit 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds. The E350 does it in the mid-6-second range, the E550 takes 5.2 seconds, and the E320 is no slouch either, taking just 6.8 seconds, all according to Edmunds. It's no wonder Kelley Blue Book claims "the E-Class' engine lineup is one of the most dynamic on the planet." In testing, ConsumerGuide finds the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class offers effortless acceleration and passing power, no matter the engine choice. The E350 is "stately from a stop but gathers speed quickly and has fine passing power"; while the E320 is "similar," it suffers from turbo lag when accelerating from a stop and passing. The E550 is "impressively gutsy from any speed," they conclude.
Buyers of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class E350 or E550 may choose either rear- or all-wheel drive, known as 4Matic. Edmunds reports that "all rear-wheel-drive E-Class models come with a seven-speed automatic, while the 4Matic models feature a five-speed...the automatic offers three modes: Comfort, Sport and Manual." ConsumerGuide says "in all, the transmissions provide smooth, timely shifts."
Fueleconomy.gov ratings for the 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class are as follows: 23/32 mpg (E320 diesel); 17/24 mpg (E350 rear-drive), 16/22 mpg (4Matic); 15/22 mpg (E550 rear-drive), 13/19 mpg (4Matic); 12/19 mpg (E63). In their testing of a Mercedes-Benz 2008 E550 4Matic, ConsumerGuide achieves 17.5 mpg. They note "premium-grade gas is required in all non-diesel models."
In the handling department, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class is no match for its archrival, the BMW 5-Series. Where the BMW is marketed as the ultimate driving machine and lives up to that, the E-Class is "certainly adequate...but isn't a willing partner like a 5 Series can be," writes Edmunds. They add, "although the Benz E550 is, without question, a track star during acceleration runs, super-athletic moves on a twisty road are not the car's forte." Kelley Blue Book notes that the "V8 models feature a sophisticated adjustable air suspension with adaptive dampers to combine a smooth highway ride with firm handling." That air suspension, according to ConsumerGuide, "had an affect on ride quality: Comfort mode allowed slightly more wallow than Sport 1; tire thump was more noticed in Sport 2...Sport Package models are a shade more agile." Motor Trend notes the E63 models have the “dynamics of a sports car,” however. Various reviews read by TheCarConnection.com laud the brakes as powerful and capable of delivering short stops.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class pounds the pavement with a bevy of powerful engines; base versions are tuned for luxury, while the E63 is tuned for sharp handling.