History of the 1995 - 2002 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Mercedes-Benz's mid-grade E-Class underwent a complete makeover at the end of 1995 when the W210 series appeared as a replacement for the W124 series that had been in production since 1986. This Steve Mattin/Bruno Sacco styled car sparked controversy upon its unveiling when it appeared with a round headlight front fascia that some compared to previous Jaguar offerings. Acceptance of the new E-Class quickly followed, however, and a minor styling update appeared partway through the seven-year production run for the 2000 model year.
A multitude of engines were offered throughout production with U.S. buyers initially having a choice of two inline sixes: a 3.2-liter gas version with 217 horsepower or a 3-liter diesel motor with 134 horsepower, both sending power to the rear wheel via a four-speed automatic or a rare five-speed manual. Changes for 1997 included a new five-speed automatic transmission as well as an available 286-hp, 4.2-liter V-8 that was borrowed from the S-Class.
The 1998 model year saw sweeping changes with reintroduction of the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system as well as replacement of all existing engines. The 3-liter diesel gained a turbocharger while the gas offering became a V-6 with 4 more horsepower than the I-6 it replaced. Finally, the 4.2-liter V-8 was replaced by a 4.3-liter V-8 with 275 horsepower. These engine choices endured through the previously mentioned facelift in 2000 until the end of production in 2002. Performance-minded European buyers could opt for AMG versions starting with the E36 and E50 in 1997, while the E55 joined the lineup in 1998 with a 5.5-liter V-8 that produced 349 horsepower. The E55 was also available in the U.S.
Body choices for this series of E-Class were limited to sedans until 1998, when station wagons were introduced. The wagons were only available with the 3.2-liter engine.
Normal depreciation as well as a reputation for being the last of the tank-like and "overbuilt" Mercedes models conspire to make these cars attractive for enthusiasts as well as those looking for a solid European-built daily driver. Potential problems include rust, electrical issues, and failed motor mounts, however good online support networks exist to address these areas.