Is a Mercedes E-Class the most comfortable new luxury car?

Dear Alex,

I have a Mercedes GLC 300. I like it very much apart from the firm ride, which is made worse by potholes and uneven road surfaces. What new car would provide a comfortable ride, plus dampen out road noise? The Mercedes E-Class seems to have good reviews, but what other makes should I look at, either saloon, estate or SUV?

– AG

Dear AG,

As a general rule, you’ll find that saloon or estate cars are usually more comfortable than SUVs. This is simply because the suspension has less to do. In an SUV, the suspension must be stiff enough to stop all that top-heavy weight from swaying around in bends. That requirement is in direct conflict with the need for suppleness over bumps.

As a result, many SUVs struggle to find a good balance between comfort and stability and, given the choice between the two, many manufacturers are opting for the sporty feel consumers seem to want. So with that in mind, I think a saloon or estate will suit you better.

If comfort is a priority, you’ll also want to avoid the (now very popular) sportier-looking versions of these cars. Usually, their larger-diameter wheels result in slimmer tire sidewalls and, along with the stiffer suspension with which they’re usually equipped, that means a harsher ride.

The E-Class is a very safe bet as regards ride quality, although you must specify the optional air suspension to get it at its best. I’d also suggest you opt for an SE model, which might not look as swish, but its smaller wheels mean you get deeper sidewalls that will help smooth imperfections the suspension can’t take care of.

But don’t discount the latest Audi A6, either. The current generation offers a disconcertingly smooth ride quality, even with standard suspension, rather than the fancier adaptive or air suspension options. Again, opting for the SE trim will get you the smoothest ride.

If you decide on another SUV, the most comfortable of the current bunch is probably the Land Rover Discovery, with its eminently wafty air suspension. Or if that’s a bit rich for your blood, the Discovery Sport is an excellent substitute. Both are tuned more for comfort than for handling, which makes a change from their rivals. What with Land Rover’s reliability record, though, I’d suggest you keep the extended warranty well and truly topped up.

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