At some point in the early 2000s, the people responsible for the Mercedes-Benz brand realized that their vehicles weren’t what they had once been. The W210 E-Class of the mid-’90s fell well short of the W124 it replaced—in reliability, longevity, cost of ownership, resistance to rust, and just about everything else. The W211 E-Class model that came around in 2002 significantly improved on the W210 but no amount of mid-cycle refreshment could bring it up to the standards set by its grandfather.
It’s difficult to judge a model that was introduced less than a decade ago; but, according to the above-mentioned criteria, we can safely say the 2010–2016 W212 E-Class improved on the W211. The W212 boasted reliability, resistance to ice-melting chemicals (let’s not call it salt anymore), and an overall build quality that tacked much closer to the course set by the W124 two and a half decades previously.
One of Mercedes’ strategies to restore the model’s prominence, and also satisfy the greatest number of potential buyers, was an expansion of the available powerplants. There were gasoline and diesel versions, both provided with multiple cylinder counts and varying displacements. There were naturally-aspirated, turbocharged, and supercharged engines. There were even hybrid models.
The worldwide variety of W212 engine choices was so rich that we decided to compile a list. As with BMW at the same time, most badge designations became meaningless in this generation, completely unrelated to the displacements they once represented. In addition, different model designations were used in different parts of the world on otherwise identical vehicle. Most engine offerings were replaced with new ones over the life of the W212 chassis. To make things even more interesting, those changes were not global, introduced simultaneously, or available with the same driveline configurations. (For example, the W212 was first available in Europe as a 2009 model but in North America as a 2010. North American engine availability is duly noted below.)
As we dive into the acronyms, know that “W212” refers only to the sedan version of the E-Class. There was also a wagon version (S212), coupe (C207), and cabriolet (A207). In terms of engine availability, the wagon aligns most closely with the sedan. Changes to coupe and convertible body styles, along with engine choices, varied independently of alterations to the sedan and wagon.
Four-cylinder gasoline engines
Four-cylinder engines with spark ignition in the W212 come from two families; the older M271 series and the newer M274 series. They came in 1.6-liter, 1.8-liter, and 2.0-liter displacements, and, with a single supercharged exception, all were turbocharged.
E 180: This 1.6-liter engine was from the M274 family and made 156 horsepower. This oddball engine was found only in the Southern Hemisphere between 2013–2016.
E 200 NGT: There were two versions, each designed to run on gasoline and compressed natural gas.
2011–2013: 1.8-liter M271-series engine. Supercharged, with multiport fuel injection, made 163 hp.
2013–2016: 2.0-liter turbocharged M274-series engine with direct fuel injection, made 156 hp.
E 200 BlueEFFICIENCY: Similar to above.
2009–2013: 1.8-liter turbocharged M271-series engine with direct fuel injection, made 181 hp.
2013–2016: M274, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. Despite the increase in displacement for the facelifted model’s new engine, horsepower and torque figures remained the same: 181 hp, 199 lb-ft. The big difference was the switch to a seven-speed automatic transmission from the old five-speed.
E 250 BlueEFFICIENCY: Similar to above but tuned to higher power levels.
2009–2013: 1.8-liter turbocharged engine, made 201 hp and 229 lb-ft of torque.
2013–2016: 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, made 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. This engine was also mated to the new seven-speed slushbox.
This was the easy part. All you need to remember is that pre-facelift 1.8-liter was the M271 series and the post-facelift 2.0-liter was the new M274 series.
Six-cylinder gasoline engines
All of the six-bangers were of the V-6 configuration. Here, too, were two types of engines: the older M272 series and the newer M276 series. Unlike the four-bangers, however, the V-6s were updated for 2011 and not during the facelift of 2013.
E 300: This decklid badge meant two very different things, depending on model year:
2009–2011: In these days, the designation still reflected the displacement. This M272-series, multipoint-fuel-injected engine made 228 hp. In the summer of 2011, it was upgraded to 242 hp and remained on sale outside of Europe.
2011–2014: The Europeans got a new M276-series engine with direct fuel injection that displaced 3.5 liters and made 249 hp. An automatic transmission was standard and an all-wheel-drive system was available for the first time.
E 350: Pay attention here, because it’s about to get complicated:
2009–2011: The E 350 CGI was an older 3.5-liter, M272-series engine. With new direct fuel injection, it made 288 hp.
2009–2010: The E 350 4MATIC from these years had a 3.5-liter M272-series engine with multipoint fuel injection and 268 hp. Yes, the engines varied with the driveline configuration—except in North America, where this engine was used in rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions.
2011–2014: All engines belonged to the M276 family, displaced 3.5-liters, and had CGI direct fuel injection. No matter how many wheels were driven, hey made 302 hp. This was true for North American market as well.
E 400: Whereas all other V-6s were naturally aspirated, but these were twin-turbo models. Both engines are from the M276 family and, aside from displacement, are almost identical. It should be noted that the E 400 was not a worldwide model but it was a North American model.
2013–2014: 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged engine with 329 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. The model first appeared in North America in 2015 and was available only with all-wheel-drive.
2015–2016: 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged engine which also, oddly, made 329 hp.
E 400 HYBRID: The most interesting gasoline V-6 engine. It was the naturally-aspirated, direct-injected M276 3.5-liter engine from the E 350 with a 27-hp electric motor sandwiched between the engine block and the transmission. This combination achieved 24 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. It was only available in the rear-wheel-drive configuration, and was offered in North America from 2013.
Eight-cylinder gasoline engines
The W212 featured four families of V-8 engines with four different displacements. Two are naturally-aspirated and two were twin-turbocharged. Some were available with all-wheel-drive. Easy-peasy until you get to the AMG versions with special packages.
E 500 and E 550: The E 500 was known as the E 550 in North America. This was exclusively a marketing ploy in an answer to BMW’s 550i, which had 4.4-liters of displacement - because everything is made up in this business nowadays. There were two families of engines and each one was available in rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive configurations.
2009–2011: M273-series engine with 5.4-liters of displacement. Naturally aspirated, port-fuel-injected, with 382 hp. It was available in both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations.
2011–2016: All-new M278-series BlueEFFICIENCY engine. Twin-turbocharged, displaced 4.7 liters. It made 402 hp and was available in both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations, but North America only got all-wheel-drive version. Like the M273, it used the 7G-Tronic Plus slushbox.
E 63 AMG: Despite its relatively unchanging exterior, the hot rod of the group had several changes under the hood. All models used the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT seven-speed dual-clutch transmissions.
2009–2011: Naturally-aspirated, multipoint-fuel-injected 6.2-liter, M156-series. Rear-wheel drive only, made 518 hp. This wonderful but troublesome engine is the motor most closely related to the actual “63” denomination. As in many other engines in Mercedes-Benz’s past, the cylinder head bolts don’t always do their jobs.
2011–2013: An all-new engine in the M157-series. Twin-turbocharged, displaced 5.5 liters. It made the same 518 hp in the beginning but the maximum torque came at much lower engine speeds—516 lb-ft from 1750–5000 rpm, versus a peak of 5200 rpm for the old, naturally-aspirated engine. Neither the automotive media nor buyers loved the feel of this new force-fed engine.
2013–2016: AMG Performance Package. Translation: Mercedes attempted to make the recently-turbocharged engine feel more like it wasn’t. The displacement remained the same but power jumped to 550 hp and torque crept up to 590 lb-ft. That maximum torque remained constant from 1750–5250 rpm. To better control this power, an all-wheel-drive system was available in 2014 for the first time on an AMG E-Class. This engine was not available in the U.S. in 2016.
2014–2016: If an AMG E63 simply wasn’t enough, there was, of course, a more special and more powerful model. The AMG E63 S had 577 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive was the only choice. This was the most powerful W212 engine but not the most powerful of the M157 family.
Four-cylinder diesel engines
The selection of compression-ignition four-bangers, BFF to German taxi drivers, isn’t very large. There’s just one family of engines: the OM651-series, based on a 2143cc engine with Delphi controls. It had some growing pains but later versions have been improved. BlueTec, often just referenced as Blue, implies the use of a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system that injects diesel exhaust fluid (AdBlue).
E 200 CDI: Single turbo model, made 134 hp. BlueTec was added in 2014.
E 220 CDI: Twice the turbos, some more power.
2009–2013: 2.1-liter biturbo that made 170 hp. For some reason models sold in the Benelux countries made 163 hp.
E 250 CDI: Available from 2009 on, the 2.1-liter biturbo made 195 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque at 1600 rpm.
2011: All-wheel drive available.
2014: BlueTec technology added, horsepower unchanged. Available in North America as the E 250 BlueTec 4MATIC.
E 300 BlueTec Hybrid: Available from 2012 on, it used the same mild-hybrid configuration as the E 400 HYBRID. It was essentially a E 250 CDI engine coupled with an electric motor, which an additional 20 hp and 147 lb-ft of torque for a total of 228 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. With the relatively heavy diesel engine and the very heavy hybrid system, this was not as successful of a configuration as it might seem.
Six-cylinder diesel engines:
There was only one compression-combustion, six-cylinder engine block: the OM642. The 72-degree, 3.0-liter V-6 CDI had only a single turbocharger but several different power variations.
E 300 CDI: There were only three variations of this model.
The first version of this engine, with 201 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, lasted a whole model year in 2009.
A 228-hp, 398 lb-ft version become the standard from 2010–2013.
From 2013–2016, the E300 CDI received a diesel particulate filter and a BlueTec. Power remained unchanged.
E 350 CDI: Five variations of that same engine in the same model. Insanity.
2009: July 2010 made 228 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque. There was no AdBlue but all-wheel drive was available with this engine.
2010–2014: Power went up to 265 hp but BlueTec wasn’t present. Still available with all-wheel drive.
2009–2014: A special “eco” model, with AdBlue, and basically indistinguishable from others. Was choked back to just 210 hp, but did have a healthy 400 lb-ft of torque between 1600–2400 rpm. This engine was in the U.S.-spec, 2011–2013 E 350 BlueTec (rear-wheel-drive only).
2013–2014: BlueTec was now standard on the non-eco engine. Power dropped to 249 hp.
2014–2016: The same engine got a power bump to 258 hp.
For North American buyers, there is no one best engine choice. Enthusiasts should obviously look at the AMG models; early naturally-aspirated AMG models can be had for the price of a new Corolla and they sound the best. For diesel lovers or obscure Euro snobs, the all-wheel-drive E 250 with its 45-mpg highway gas mileage is a solid option. For a fair compromise and comfortable daily driving, glance at the E 400. Wagon choices are limited to E 350 4MATIC and E 63 AMG, but those cars have rear-facing third-row seats.
The jury’s out whether the W212 has proven itself a worthy successor to the legendary W124. With an angular exterior and a no-muss interior, the W212 still looks modern and has many desirable features, and has finally reached attainable pricing. Which one you pick is up to you. We will bang the gavel on this verdict, though: there is an engine choice for everyone.