If a 0-62mph time of 8.8sec is acceptable to you, the news is good. That’s the time for an E 220 CDI estate and the slowest of any E-Class on sale. An E 250 CDI saloon needs just 7.5sec, as does the hybrid while the E 350 CDI knocks that figure back to 6.6sec.
If you want to go faster than that, it’s to the AMG you must look, which needs either 4.3 or 4.2sec depending on whether it has the ‘S’ specification engine or not. Bear in mind this is achieved without four-wheel drive: in America where four driveshafts are standard, the E 63 S hits 60mph in a faintly bewildering 3.6sec.
Experience suggests that shopping at the performance poles is probably the best idea: the standard petrol engines will always be a minority interest on a continent where over 90 per cent of sales of such cars are diesel. Likewise the 3-litre diesel, while tempting, will in the real world really hit your pocket hard at refuelling time.
So it’s the little diesels to which most will turn and quite correctly. Remember the base E 220 diesel is now the only E-Class available with a manual transmission – all the others get Mercedes’ own seven speed auto, which is not and never has been as smooth or intuitive as the ZF eight speeder used by most rivals.