There are seven mid-size E-Class sedan and station wagon models, starting with the $42,400 E300. They come with different six- and eight-cylinder engines, even a turbocharged diesel. But the limited-production, $69,100 E55 is the most costly-and the poster boy for the E-Class line. This consignment car has had the same owner since 2010. It has some cosmetic needs, but drives out nicely along with check engine light and SRS light on. Left rear window is inop and older tires.
The E55 has .....
the most potent E-Class motor: a quiet 5.4-liter V-8 with 349-horsepower V-8 and a neck-snapping 391 pound-feet of torque. Built exclusively for the E55, the V-8 propels the car from 0-60 m.p.h. in merely 4.9 seconds and whisks it to an electronically limited 155 m.p.h.
Such vivid performance allows quick merges into traffic, rapid passing and the ability to streak out of harm's way. But power is only part of the story. The E55 has special parts that allow exceptional steering, handling and anti-lock braking-and a nice ride from a firm-but-supple suspension. The V-8 works with an efficient five-speed automatic, but figure on only about 18 m.p.g. during city/highway driving.
The E55 was developed by Mercedes with its German AMG hot-rod partner, which runs the Mercedes race car program. Remember AMG? It modified wild Mercedes models for the Miami Vice television show and wealthy folks. The most famous AMG model then was the ''Hammer'' sedan, which only the fastest Ferrari and Lamborghini two-seaters could touch.
The E55 is much like the civilized Hammer, only it looks almost like a standard E-Class model. It's quieter and more docile than the Hammer. You could drive it all day as if it were the 174-horsepower E300, although that wouldn't be much fun, would it?
With rear-drive and all that power, the E55's traction control system and Electronic Stability Program, which prevents skids, can keep overenthusiastic new owners of this deceptively fast sedan out of trouble. Other safety items include front and door-mounted side air bags and Mercedes' nifty Brake Assist feature, which reduces stopping distances in emergencies.
Four tall adults fit comfortably in the quiet maple-and-leather interior, which has a thick-rim AMG-monogrammed steering wheel and heated, high-bolstered sport seats some may find too firm on short trips. The car is so well-equipped that the only option is a portable cellular phone/CD changer package.
The E55 may not look like the ultimate Mercedes, but it's destined to be a classic and likely will have the highest resale value of any 1999 Mercedes.