The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class has been officially unveiled. The tenth generation of the company’s core model is set to be the firm’s most technologically advanced yet, with a range of new driver assistance systems.
Externally, the new E-Class is larger than the out-going model – 43mm longer, and with a 65mm longer wheelbase – yet more aerodynamic, with a drag coefficient of just 0.23.
The design is perhaps more reminiscent of the S-Class; gone are the quad headlights, replaced by more curvaceous units that house a new Multibeam LED set-up.
The system uses 84 individually-controlled elements – and with left and right headlights operating independently – to produce a beam pattern that adjusts automatically to the prevailing conditions and the presence of other road users. Mercedes claims their implementation is a world first, as it uses no moving parts.
The rear lights, meanwhile, can be optionally specified with an additional highlight that the company describes as being ‘reminiscent of stardust’.
The interior, as previously revealed, is dominated by a pair of high-resolution wide-screen displays, each of 12.3 inches, and mounted behind a single sheet of glass for a high-end look.
The driver can choose between three different styles – Classic, Sport and Progressive.
At night, a colour-customisable back-light is applied behind the frame of the displays, making them appear to float in space, while many of the interior elements are picked out at night by LEDs that offer a choice of 64 different colours.
The new E-Class will also see the introduction of touch-sensitive controls to the steering wheel for the first time.
By responding to a series of smartphone-esque finger swipes and other gestures, the driver can control the functions of each display without taking their hands off the wheel.
A central touch pad – as seen on the C-Class – also responds to finger gestures, and allows the input of numbers and letters by drawing their shape on the pad.
Alternatively, the system can respond to voice instructions, or use the direct access buttons for functions such as audio volume, climate control, etc.
Mercedes say multiple seat designs will be offered, starting with a fabric finish for entry-level models, a more adventurous design for Avantgarde models, and a sportier form for AMG models. In addition, an Exclusive line offers a more luxurious feel, while a ‘designo’ seat will be available with diamond-pattern panels.
At launch, the new E-Class will be available with a choice of two engines: a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol unit in the E200, and a new four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbodiesel in the E220d.
The E200’s petrol engine develops a healthy 184hp and 300Nm of torque, enough for a 0-62mph sprint of just 7.7 seconds. In terms of economy, it is expected to achieve up to 47.8 mpg (5.9 l/100km) with CO2 emissions of 132 g/km
The E220d meanwhile offers 195hp and 400Nm, and can accelerate from rest to 62mph in 7.3 seconds. Not surprisingly, economy is a strong-point, with official figures of 72.4 mpg (3.9 l/100km) and 102 g/km.
Following soon after will be an E350e plug-in hybrid, which mates the 2.0-litre petrol engine to an electric motor to give a total output of 279hp and an incredible 600Nm of torque. It can hit 62mph in 6.2 seconds, all while emitting just 49 g/km of CO2 and recording up to 134.5 mpg (2.1 l/100km).
It’s also capable of travelling for around 30 km on electric power alone.
A more powerful 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel engine will also follow in the guise of the E350d. Its 258hp and 620Nm of torque give it a 5.9 second 0-62mph time, with economy of 55.3 mpg (5.1 l/100km) and 133 g/km.
Also joining later will be a six-cylinder petrol E400 4Matic with 333hp and 480Nm, and a new diesel engine with 150hp.
Transmissions are nine-speed automatic as standard.
All new E-Class saloons will feature steel suspension as standard, while three additional variants will be offered: Comfort suspension, Avantgarde suspension (lowered by 15mm), and Sport suspension with adaptive damping.
In addition, a new multi-chamber air suspension set-up can be specified. It uses three chambers of different sizes to offer a progressive response to suspension movements, with the company claiming the new system offers a soft, comfortable ride combined with taught handling and stability as speed increases.
The system controls the vehicle height automatically – lowering at speed for improved aerodynamics and efficiency, for instance – or can be adjusted manually, perhaps when tackling rough access roads.
The Air Body Control system also offers four pre-set modes – Comfort, Eco, Sport and Sport+ – as well as an ‘individual’ setting that allows drivers to configure the system to their own preference.
Mercedes is keen to promote the various new driver assistance systems of the new E-Class.
Active Brake Assist is fitted to all models, and can warn drivers of an impending collision, provide additional braking effort, or even apply the brakes automatically if necessary. The system can detect pedestrians as well as vehicles.
Also standard are Attention Assist, which warns the driver to take a break if reduced responses are detected, and Crosswind Assist, which helps mitigate some of the effects of driving in strong crosswinds.
Optionally available is a Driver Assistance package that includes a number of additional systems:
Drive Pilot includes a number of individual functions, such as Distance Pilot that can follow preceding vehicles at a safe distance at speeds of up to 210 kmh. The system is more than just a cruise control feature – it also offers steering inputs to maintain course, even through bends. It’s said to also be able to maintain its position where road markings are unclear or missing, or through complex road layouts such as at roadworks. In conjunction with COMAND Online, the system can even adjust the vehicle’s speed to remain within posted speed limits.
Other functions include an Active Lane-change Assistant, which helps steer the vehicle into the driver’s chosen lane if it is clear to do so, following an instruction via the turn signals.
Remote Parking Pilot, meanwhile, allows drivers to move their car into and out of parking spaces and garages by using a smartphone app.
Drivers can even use their NFC-equipped smartphone as a vehicle key, while a Qi wireless charging pad in the centre console allows phones up to 6-inches in size to be charged wirelessly.
The new Mercedes E-Class is expected to go on sale in the spring.