The Mercedes E320 was first introduced in the last 90s for the W210 generation and the second-gen 2003 W211 E350 was also the last E320 model because it ceased production in 2009 and was later replaced with the E350 for the W212 generation.
The W210 E320 is now a fairly old car and most people interested in buying these want them to be weekend cruisers and pleasure vehicles. The W211 is actually a lot more common as a daily driver and you are likely going to spot a few of these during your daily commute.
The engines found in both the W210 and the W211 E320 models are 6-cylinder engines which were the mid-level E-Class engine configurations at the time. These engines are made to be powerful, smooth and were mostly always connected with an automatic gearbox.
Both the W210 and the W211 E320 models are luxury cars and they are able to drive smoothly even today. However, they are also relatively problematic and many issues associated with the suspension, engine, airbags, and electricals are known to cause a lot of headaches.
Mercedes E320 – The powerplant
The late 90s W210 E320 comes with a 3.2L V6 that offers 220hp and 232lb-ft of torque. These power numbers were fairly strong for the 1990s and are more than enough for the W210 chassis. The W210 E320 comes as a rear-wheel-drive car connected to a 4-speed automatic gearbox.
The early 2000s W211 E320 also uses a 3.2L V6 with 225hp and 232lb-ft of torque. This is more or less the same engine found in the W210 and the only difference is down to a slightly better fuel economy with the W211. The W211 E320 also comes in rear-wheel-drive form and is mated to a more sophisticated 5-speed automatic.
Both the W210 and the W211 are powerful enough even by today’s standards. Many Mercedes enthusiasts deem the 3.2 V6 to be a decent engine, even though it is known to have issues with the belts and the pulleys which can retire the whole car fairly early.
All in all, these powerplants are able to stand the test of time, but only if you maintain them adequately.
Mercedes E320 – Design and chassis
The W210 E320 utilizes a classic Mercedes land yacht design with two front rounded headlights which are now iconic. The car is long, wide, and low and it can easily be mistaken for the first generation of the Mercedes CL which came later and it was the coupe version of the S-Class.
The W211 E320 also offers an iconic Mercedes design language, but it bridges the gap between older boxy Mercedes sedans and a more streamlined design language for the newer models. Both of these come in estate form as well, but the sedan versions always were, and still are a lot more popular.
Both of these are positioned as all-out luxury sedans which means that they are designed for long highways slogs in uttermost comfort. They are not all that dynamic, and if you try to take them through a few corners at a fast pace you are likely going to slow down after the first corner as both of these experience lots of body roll.
Mercedes E320 – Reliability and potential issues
This is the part where the appeal of both the W210 and the W211 start to vanish as these are known to have serious issues with many vital car components. The W210 is known for front coil spring explosions which can even lead to a complete loss of control.
Both of these also suffer from electrical issues of all sorts and the W211 is known to suffer from fuel leaks which can even result in a fire. However, if you maintain them and you always keep a sentient eye on your service records, you will be able to use both the W210 and the W211 for a long time.
Mercedes E320 – Value and practicality
The W210 was incredibly popular and the W211 is actually one of the best sold Mercedes cars of all time which means that there are many of these knocking around and can be had for an affordable price. However, because there are so many of them and because they are so cheap, it’s a lot more difficult to find one in decent condition.
Practicality-wise, both of these are spacious, but they don’t offer the same amount of space as current E-Class models do. Even so, both the W210 and the W211 should not disappoint you in the practicality department.
Should I buy the W210 or the W211 E320?
The W211 is a better car, it offers a better transmission, a more comfortable ride and it is a lot more compliant with newer overall tech. However, it all depends on the two models you are looking at as the number of miles and the overall state are the key factors you need to consider if you are interested in a new E320.
Although both of these can be decent, you are better off looking at the W212 E-Class as it is a lot better in almost every instance without costing all that much more.
Are the W210 and the W211 Mercedes cars safe?
Both the W210 and the W211 are now fairly old which means that they don’t benefit from all the modern-day safety technology. They even don’t come with a rearview camera and the only safety tech they offer are airbags which are often prone to issues.
All in all, you can’t expect a 25-year-old to be safe according to today’s standards. This does not mean that these are unsafe, but they are far behind the W212 E-Class as far as safety is concerned.
Is the W211 a good family car?
The Mercedes W210 is way too old to be a family car, but the W211 is actually decent if you manage to find one without all that many miles on the clock and if all the electronics, airbags, and mechanicals work as advertised.
Once again, if you want to transport your family, you should save a few thousand dollars more and get yourself the W212 E-Class.