Mercedes-Benz is on a bit of a roll lately. In the past couple of years, the brand from Stuttgart has put out the class-leading S Class (which might be taken by the new 7 Series, but that’s yet to be seen), the beautifully design C Class, the X6-rivaling GLE Coupe and the astonishing AMG GT. There’s no doubt, Stuttgart has a some winners on its hands. However, the best selling three-pointed start model, the E Class, has yet to receive an update and the current model is starting to show its age.
Due out in 2016, as a 2017 model, Mercedes-Benz is throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, at the new E Class. It will wear Mercedes’ familial styling which looks good, if a bit boring, and the interior will be incredibly luxurious. Some early photos have emerged of the finalized E Class and in them we get a good look at its overall shape and some of the interior. It looks like a slightly bigger C Class from the outside and seems as if it will be hard to discern from its baby brother. The interior will also borrow inspiration from its siblings. The overall design is very similar to the C Class’, but its twin high-definition screen design, for both the instrument cluster and the infotainment system, is pulled straight from the S Class.
But beauty isn’t the only area where the new E Class will excel. The new 5 Series-competitor is said to have some of the most advanced technology and safety systems out of any production car on the road. It will actually even have functions that the new S Class doesn’t have. We just read about Tesla’s new Autopilot system, in which its autonomous driving functions are connected to a digital display to show the driver exactly what’s happening. Well, Mercedes-Benz is doing something very similar, but will need its driver to keep hands on the wheel at all times. There will also be a suite of safety features, like Mercedes’ new Pre Safe function, which inflatable side bolsters in the seats to push occupants away from an unavoidable side impact.
The new E Class will also have what Mercedes-Benz calls Evasive Steering Assist, which will help the driver make evasive steering maneuvers if the driver’s steering input isn’t enough. This goes along with the rest of Mercedes’ active safety features, like Active Brake Assist. The upcoming E Class will also come with Car-to-X Communication, which allows cars on the same road to communicate with each other, thus further preventing collisions and helping with autonomous functions. The E Class will also have a Remote Parking Pilot that allows it to be remotely parked fro the key fob, much like the new BMW 7 Series. There will also be an app allowing the owner’s smartphone to duplicate the key fob, which will use NFC (near field communication) to lock or unlock the car even if the phone’s battery is dead.
But don’t think that the new E Class is all about safety and technology and not about luxury and performance. The new platform the E Class will be built on, which is the same platform as the S Class, will allow it to be 100 kg lighter than the previous model and have more interior passenger space and cargo space. No word on exact engine options, but expect the twin-turbo V6 from the C Class to show up somewhere, as well as the 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged V8 for an AMG model. Most, if not all, engines will be paired to Mercedes-Benz’s new nine-speed ZF automatic transmission and have the option of 4-Matic all-wheel drive. There are also rumors of a plug-in hybrid model, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet.
The current E Class is a good car. It’s a bit dated and showing its age, but it’s still a fine luxury car. This new one, however, is set to launch the E Class into the upper echelon of its segment. It will be good looking, if a bit too familiar, will have a fantastic interior, tons of luxury and performance and incredible technology. There’s no doubt the E Class will be tough to beat in the segment. BMW has a new 5 Series in the works as well and is planning and equally extensive suite of technology, safety and performance, so it should be an interesting showdown in the segment these two companies have dominated for so long. Though, the pesky Jaguar XF might have thrown a bit of a monkey wrench into the mix.