In China, it's less about what you drive, and more about what you're driven in. That's why so many automakers release special, long-wheelbase editions of their most popular models but only sell them in the People's Republic. Mercedes-Benz is no stranger to this Chinese-market tactic, so it comes as no surprise that the company presents its long-wheelbase version of the brand-new E-Class at the Beijing Motor Show.
It's everything you already know and love about the 2017 E-Class, just with a bit more length out back. The wheelbase is stretched by 5.5 inches, and that directly results in a 5.3-inch increase of rear legroom. To make backseat passengers even more comfortable, Mercedes adds an improved center armrest to the long-wheelbase E-Class, incorporating a USB port and lighted storage space. That armrest can even be upgraded with niceties like a touchscreen, cell phone wireless charging, a heated pad (like the front armrest in the S-Class), or an additional cupholder.
It all sounds pretty swanky, but don't expect to see the longer E-Class outside of China anytime soon. Mercedes says this car is "built in China for China," produced by Beijing Benz Automotive Co, which is a joint venture between Daimler and BAIC.
Gallery: Long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Premiere of the long-wheelbase version of the new E-Class: Extension for the most intelligent executive saloon
At "Auto China 2016" in Beijing, Mercedes-Benz is presenting the long-wheelbase version of the E-Class, measuring an extra 140 millimetres in length. Passengers in the rear of the saloon, which has been purpose-developed for China, enjoy the benefit of a considerably larger footwell area and seats with a host of comfort functions. The interior of the saloon is a picture of contemporary luxury, which has been stylishly reinterpreted for the Chinese market using high-class materials. Its striking, dynamic design exudes sensual purity and effortless superiority. The standard-fit nine-stage automatic transmission 9G-TRONIC delivers dynamic performance with high ride comfort.
The long-wheelbase version of the new E-Class Saloon built in China for China brings with it the numerous technical innovations of the most intelligent executive saloon, and also offers an even more spacious rear compartment with a first-class character. It exceeds the first E-Class Saloon sold in the world where both the wheelbase (3079 millimetres) and the length (5063 millimetres) are concerned by 140 millimetres. The rear compartment of the five-seater offers its occupants an extra 134 millimetres of legroom. The larger entrance clearance at foot level furthermore facilitates passenger entry and exit.
The long-wheelbase version will be available on the Chinese market with two distinct design characters – as a saloon and as a sports saloon. The saloon bears the classic saloon radiator grille with the Mercedes star on the bonnet. The sports saloon is identifiable by the radiator grille with its central star.
Design featuring modern aesthetics and sensual purity
The longer wheelbase manifests itself in the triangular windows additionally integrated into the C-pillar and a stretched roof line. This lends the long-wheelbase version an autonomous side profile with harmonious proportions that give it a dynamic and at the same time elegant appearance. The favourable ratio of overhangs to wheelbase also contributes to this effect.
The elongated bonnet coupled with a long, coupé-esque roof flowing into a sensual, broad-shouldered tail end creates an exciting silhouette. The powerfully extended vehicle body is characterised by short overhangs, a long wheelbase, large wheels and taut well-defined flanks displaying a fresh, stylish and dynamic interpretation of the feature line.
The intelligence of the long-wheelbase version of the new E-Class is also reflected in the headlamps. A characteristic element is the double eyebrow of the reinterpreted daytime running lamps. The face of the vehicle is shaped by distinctive headlamps with a clear-lens design. LED High Performance headlamps are on board. High-resolution MULTIBEAM LED headlamps are available as an option. These headlamps, each with 84 individually activated high-performance LEDs, automatically illuminate the road surface with a hitherto unsurpassed, precision-controlled distribution of exceptionally bright light – without dazzling other road users. That's because this grid allows the light distribution of the left and right headlamps to be controlled separately and adapted to the changing situation on the road quickly and dynamically. All the functions in the low- and main-beam mode of the MULTIBEAM LED headlamps can also be purely digitally displayed and without mechanical actuators for the first time, also including the active light function.
At the tail end, broad shoulders above the rear wheel arches lend the saloon its unmistakably powerful character. Single-piece tail lights featuring a two-bar design framed by the vehicle body clearly identify it as a new member of the Mercedes saloon family. The rear lamp and brake lamp in the tail lights feature LED technology with all headlamp versions.
High-class interior with fine details
The high-quality appointments of the interior ensure a prestigious and pleasant atmosphere. From the E 200 L model it is characterised by two wide high-resolution and bright displays each with a next-generation 12.3-inch screen diagonal. The two displays blend into a wide-screen cockpit beneath a joint glass cover. As the instrument cluster, this wide-screen cockpit contains a large display with virtual instruments in the direct field of vision of the driver as well as a central display above the centre console. The driver can choose between three different styles to select their preferred look for the wide-screen instrument cluster: "Classic", "Sport" and "Progressive".
Also on board are new touch-sensitive controls in the steering wheel. Like a smartphone interface, they respond precisely to horizontal and vertical swiping movements, allowing the driver to control the entire infotainment system using finger swipes without having to take their hands off the steering wheel. In keeping with the motto "hands on the wheel, eyes on the road", this allows minimum driver distraction to be achieved.
Further controls for the infotainment system are provided in the form of a touchpad with Controller in the centre console, which can also recognise handwriting and characters, plus the LINGUATRONIC voice control system. There are also direct-access buttons for controlling functions such as the air-conditioning system or – in another first – for convenient activation and deactivation of certain driving assistance systems.
High-quality materials define the interior style. They include a selection of fine woods. The dashboard and beltlines feature fine ARTICO. Another Mercedes hallmark clearly in evidence is the high-quality look and feel created through meticulous attention to detail and craftsmanship.
Lighting atmosphere with 64 colours
The interior lighting makes exclusive use of durable, energy-saving LED technology. The same applies to the extended ambient lighting. With 64 colours, it offers a host of possibilities for personalisation. It adds touches of light, for example, to the trim, central display, front stowage facility on the centre console, handle recesses, door pockets, front and rear footwells, overhead console, and tweeters (if the vehicle is equipped with the Burmester® high-end 3D surround sound system available on request).
Centre armrest with lots of features
All rear seat variants have a folding centre armrest in common. Their comfort attributes include:
- An illuminated stowage compartment
- A USB port
- An integral touchscreen (optional extra)
- Wireless charging of the mobile phone (optional extra)
- Heated pad (optional extra)
- As an extended centre console a cup holder with temperature control on request
In addition to this the rear compartment meets requirements for use as a workspace and relaxation area. For instance, the occupants can, on request, control certain car and COMAND functions from the rear – either via a touchscreen display permanently integrated into the centre armrest or with a corresponding app via tablet or smartphone.
Next-generation driving assistance systems
Mercedes-Benz's new assistance and safety systems enhance safety, comfort and driver assistance to new levels. Active Brake Assist is fitted as standard on board the long-wheelbase version of the E-Class. If it detects the risk of a collision with a vehicle in front, it warns the driver visually and acoustically and if there is no reaction from the driver it can brake autonomously at speeds up to 200 km/h. Up to 60 km/h it also reacts to stationary vehicles and crossing pedestrians.
Also included as standard are ATTENTION ASSIST, which can warn the driver of inattentiveness and drowsiness, and Crosswind Assist, which can assist the driver by substantially reducing the effects of strong crosswinds to prevent the vehicle from drifting too far off track.
The optional Driving Assistance package familiar from the E-Class is also available. Its highlights include:
DRIVE PILOT – can automatically keep the correct distance to vehicles in front and follow them in a speed range up to 210 km/h, whilst being able to provide considerable support to the driver with steering – even on moderate bends. Up to 130 km/h the DRIVE PILOT can also actively steer with the driver when the lane marking is unclear or missing.
Remote Parking Pilot – for the first time allows the vehicle to be moved into and out of garages and parking spaces remotely using a smartphone app, enabling the occupants to get into and out of the car easily, even if space is very tight.
Built in China for China
The long-wheelbase version of the E-Class is produced at Beijing Benz Automotive Co., Ltd. (BBAC) in Beijing for the Chinese market. BBAC is a joint venture between Daimler and the strategic partner BAIC.