Mercedes-Benz E 250 CDI - iDrive

'Despite a biblical storm, the E-Class powers on'

Mercedes has just announced a hybrid version of its venerable E-Class luxury saloon, but in the meantime if you a want luxury cruiser with some concessions to economy for less than £40,000, you'll probably be opting for the current E-Class with Mercedes fuel-saving BlueEfficiency technology.

 Yes, it's been on the road for a few years now but in the new Executive SE trim package it's a classy, comfortable and even a (slightly) sexy luxury saloon with a refined diesel engine to eat up the miles. And now, to help with covering those miles in winter, Mercedes has launched a winter tyre service that will fit you out with tyres for the chillier months. Kitted out with winter tyres on an E-Class last month and in the depth of rural East Anglia, there's only one problem… there's no snow. They work by using rubber that stays soft at lower temperatures, while their more c omplex tread patterns (with more "sipes" or tiny grooves) create more heat to improve grip. Thankfully, though, as well as cutting your stopping distance by up to three-cars length in the snow, they also work well in the wet and at temperatures below 7C, which in Britain, as we know, is the normal state of affairs in winter. And on the basis of several fourhour motorway marathons in steady rain and one storm of near-biblical proportions, they do reduce stopping distances. I certainly felt a lot more stable on the road in the wet and the noise and ride comfort of the normally sublime E-Class were compromised very little. In snow, Mercedes claim cold weather tyres increase traction by up to 50 per cent. Yes, they're not cheap and it seems I'd have to hit the Alps to really test them, but next time there's a dusting of snow on my way to work I'd rather be on a set of these.

Price: from £35,710 (£48,950 as tested)

Engine capacity: 2.5l turbo diesel

0-62 mph (seconds): 7.5

Fuel economy (mpg): 57.6

CO2 emissions (g/km):138

Winter tyres: £999, plus fitting

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