After numerous leaks and a terrific job by spy photographers, Mercedes used the North American International Auto Show in Detroit to officially debut the new E-class sedan. Featuring more than 20 new or updated technologies, the company hopes that these advancements along with the bold new styling will help improve upon the sales success of one of the brand's most important models.
The bold new exterior features a brand new shape that has a low 0.25 drag coefficient while the platform underneath has a new bodyshell that offers up to 30 percent more rigidity than the previous generation. Mercedes designers decided to change the E-Class' symbolic twin headlight design in order to give the sedan a more masculine appearance inspired by the cubist movement. The obligatory AMG package returns and includes new bumpers and side skirts, sport seats with enhanced lateral support, contrasting decorative seams in the seats and armrests, a three-spoke sports steering wheel with shift paddles, a black roof lining, a lowered sports suspension, perforated disc brakes with the Mercedes logo and 18-inch light-alloy AMG wheels.
Power comes from a host of new and updated engines that feature the latest technical advancements in order to improve fuel economy and decrease emissions. No less than three brand new four-cylinder diesel engines can be found under the hood of the new E-class and all feature the common-rail direct injection, fast piezo-electric injectors, improved exhaust gas recirculation and twin turbochargers. Both the E 220 CDI, that produces 125 kW (170 hp) and the E 200 CDI with 100 kW (136 hp), achieve a fuel consumption of only 5.3 liters per 100 kilometers (44mpg US). The top of the range four cylinder unit is the E 250 CDI that cranks out 150 kW (204 hp) and 500 Nm of torque while CO2 emissions are rated at 139 per km, despite the increased performance the model also averages 5.3 liters per 100 km in the combined cycle. A six-cylinder E 350 CDI that produces 170 kW (231 hp) will also be available and in the fall this engine will be offered in BlueTEC form.
Petrol fans won't have to worry about missing out on the latest advances as the company has worked to increase their fuel economy by 20 percent. The four-cylinder E 200 CGI with 135 kW (184 hp) and standard ECOstart/stop function averages 6.8 liters of premium petrol per 100 kilometers (35mpg US) when equipped with a six-speed manual. Meanwhile the E 250 CGI with 150 kW (204 hp) and 310 Nm of torque is equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission achieves fuel economy rating of 7.4 liters per 100 kilometers (32mpg US). Both the E 350 CGI (215 kW/292 hp) and the E 500 (285 kW/388 hp) return to the engine lineup with a 0.6 liters per 100 kilometers improvement in fuel economy. And now for the moment we all have been waiting for, the E 63 AMG will put out 386 kW (525 hp) when it launches later this year.
After Mercedes had finished fine tuning things under the hood the company's engineers went to work crafting brand new safety features that use the latest technological advancements. A new Adaptive Main Beam Assist uses a camera mounted on the windscreen to recognize oncoming traffic and then adjust the headlights so that their beams do not reach the other vehicle. The company says this system provides the best possible road illuminate and depending on traffic, the system can adjust the beam length from 65 to 300 meters (213 to 984 ft) and when the road is clear the system gently switches on the high beams.
As part of the Lane Safety package the E-Class is equipped with the Blind Spot Assist system from the S-Class and a new Lane Keeping Assist system that gently vibrates the steering wheel when it realizes the driver is leaving their lane unintentionally. Meanwhile a new Speed Limit Assist system captures speed limit signs and then displays them in the speedometer. The Night View Assist from the S-Class is also adopted and upgraded for use on the E-Class and now includes pedestrian detection. An attention assist system measures more than 70 parameters to determine a driver's attention level, if the system thinks the driver is either becoming distracted or drowsy it provides a warning.
The optional radar based assistance system has also been upgraded and now offers the ability to measure vehicles up to 200 meters (656 ft) away and when it detects an impending collision it starts a two step braking process. Initially the system will partially activate the brakes however is the driver still doesn't respond to correct the situation the system, it will then proceed with emergency braking. Mercedes says the system can considerably lessen the severity of an accident and acts as an electronic crumple zone.
Interior accommodations have also been thoroughly upgraded as the new E-Class features a host of luxurious enhancements including the active multi-contour seat package with massage function, the option to have the rear bench be replaced with two individual seats, and a THERMOTRONIC automatic climate control system.
Look for the new E-Class to hit European dealerships sometime in March.
(Be sure to check out the press release for full details)