Detroit – On the Sunday before press days at the NAIAS, a gaggle of people and cars arrived at a hotel north of downtown. In that group was the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E Class.
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Walking up to the new E Class from behind the first attention grabber was the Ford Fusion like exhaust ports. But as the rear three quarter view came into focus, it was apparent that Mercedes-Benz had taken some pains to deliver a stronger visual message with this car than the previous version.
From the press release Mercedes-Benz states,”In another first, the MY14 E-Class is available with two different front-end designs. The Luxury version comes with the classic sedan grille with 3-louver look and star on the hood. The Sport version, on the other hand, features the sports grille with integrated star, forming a visual link to the brand’s high performance sports car models.”
The car on the curb was an E500 with all of the bells and whistles (or mod cons as the British are wont to say). Lane departure, active cruise controls, and, of course, cameras and sensors galore (including some cleverly hidden side-view cameras in the exterior mirrors). All of the active passive safety features that Mercedes-Benz buyers love.
But it is the interior of the car that really highlights the new E-Class. First and foremost the upper seat backs of the front seats are something out of Mercedes-Benz cars of yore. The are very deep (front to back) and when asked about them, the Mercedes-Benz program manager for the car admitted that they fought hard to retain that style – they deliberately wanted to hark back to a timeless Mercedes-Benz feel.
Those seat backs are complimented by an analog faced clock in the center of the IP stack (between the HVAC vents) and a cleaner version of the Mercedes-Benz buttons galore infotainment unit. The idea being to evoke the charm of an older era.
And once inside the car with the door closed, it’s as dead quiet as a mausoleum at midnight. My goodness, the attention to sound attenuation is impressive. It’s as if the car was designed specifically to isolate and pamper the occupants from the vagaries of the world outside.
It goes without saying that this just may be one great highway cruiser. The question is will it be as rewarding to the driver as the passengers. The BMW 5er is a driver’s car, so we’ll have to wait for our chance behind the wheel of the E class to compare the two.