Although the new Mercedes E-Class won’t be officially unveiled in full until the Detroit motor show next month, the company has released pictures of the new car’s interior.
It marks the debut of a number of new technology features, most notably dual 12.3-inch widescreen displays in place of a conventional instrument cluster.
Each display has a resolution of 1920 x 720 pixels, with one displaying information directly in front of the driver, while the second is more centrally mounted above the centre console. A single sheet of glass over the two unifies the design.
Three different graphic styles are offered – Classic, Sport and Progressive – and the driver can customise the information on display to suit their preference.
At night, a colour-customisable back-light is applied behind the frame of the displays, making them appear to float in space.
Models without the optional COMAND Online system will use conventional instruments and a smaller 8.4-inch central display.
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 they have worked hard to simplify menu structures, and have even gone as far as to create two new departments responsible for creating more appealing graphics and animations, plus a more familiar user interface design.
The company says their ethos for the interior design has been to join the sophistication and elegance of the S-Class with the sporting nature of the C-Class. Materials include open-pore woods, rich inlays, and metallic surfaces.
Many of the interior elements are picked out at night by LEDs that offer a choice of 64 different colours.
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.
A new Burmester 3D surround sound system will be available, with 23 high-end speakers including a 25-litre bass box with its own 400W amp in the boot, and a total output of 1450W.
The new E-Class won’t be lacking in gadgets, with a new generation of Multibeam LED headlights, LED brake lights that adjust their output according to time of day, and optional Lambert reflectors in the rear light clusters that Mercedes say create an effect “reminiscent of star dust or the Milky Way”.
Autonomous features include a remote-parking facility and an automatic lane-change feature.
The new Mercedes E-Class is expected to go on sale first in Germany in the Spring of 2016.