BMW, and its 5 Series, has fought Mercedes and its E-Class for what seems like centuries now. It’s been so long it seems like the plot to a Highlander movie (and it would probably make a better one). The most recent iterations of each car are on their way out of the door leaving the battle to a new breed of cars.
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While the 5 Series and E-Class were always competitors, they’ve actually always done things a bit differently. They occupy the same segment and compete for the same customers, but they do so with different styles. BMW tries to make the 5 Series a sort of extra luxurious 3 Series, a car that’s both comfortable and upscale but also fun to drive. While the E-Class tones down the fun-to-drive nature and adds in extra luxury. That’s just how it’s always been and things don’t seem like they’ll be changing anytime soon.
Mercedes-Benz recently just revealed the interior of its latest E-Class in this teaser trailer and some early pictures.
The Three-Pointed Star is certainly following in the path of its ultra-successful S-Class, as the E-Class does a fantastic impression of Mercedes’ flagship luxury car. There’s not a bit of the new E-Class’ interior that hasn’t been inspired by its bigger brother and that’s a very good thing. Mercedes-Benz is attempting to create the best, most luxurious cabin in the segment and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to doubt that.
Everything, from the dashboard that wraps itself around the two massive LCD screens (one for the gauge cluster and one for the COMMAND system), to the trim that wraps around the whole cabin in a smooth and linear fashion is covered in either beautifully designed leather, wood or aluminum. The entire cabin absolutely screams high class. It’s a gorgeous place to sit.
Mercedes-Benz wanted to make the most luxurious cabin in the bizz and it may have done it with the seats alone. Just looking at those leather thrones and I want to replace my living room couch with a couple of them. According to some recent ride alongs and samples, they may be the best seats in the business, SClass included.
The trim that wraps around the cabin is available in either open-pore wood, piano black or a new woven-metal look, which looks very interesting, but almost has a fake carbon-fiber look to it. I’m a big fan of open-pore wood, so either that or the piano black would be my choice, personally. Woven-metal might work in the AMG model, but not in the standard car. What’s interesting is that I don’t see any shiny-looking wood option so typical of the last generation E-Class. This is actually welcome as it was starting to look a bit cheesy in the previous car.
But don’t think the new E-Class is just a cigar lounge with wheels. It’s going to be packed up to its ears with new and innovative technology. The two aforementioned LCD screens dominate the dash but don’t look out of place. The screen in front of the driver house a configurable gauge cluster. There are three different themes for the gauge cluster that the driver can switch through as desired. The standard theme, called Classic, is exactly as it says, just two digital gauges for speed and revs and you get some digital information between the. There’s a Sport theme, which keeps the Classic’s two gauges but changes the font to yellow and the dials grey, which is reminiscent of old-school Mercedes-Benz’s. Then there’s the Progressive gauge, which swaps the two-gauge cluster out for a single one that holds a circular rev-counter and a digital speedo inside of it, a la Lexus LFA. On either side of the Progressive gauge are a couple of boxes filled with digital info, like navigation and media and what not. The graphics look clean and slick, without overdoing it.
It will also have an array of autonomous driving functions which can allow the E-Class to drive on its own at up to 120 mph. It can operate the steering wheel on its own, perform lane-changes via driver’s turn-signal stalk request and can even operate without clear lane markings at up to 60 mph. The only thing the E-Class requires of the driver is to touch a finger to a steering wheel mounted sensor at least once every other minute. A Mercedes-Benz engineer even made a quip about not allowing its drivers move to the back seat, like a certain reckless Autopilot system. Though, Mercedes-Benz is claiming that the E-Class’ autonomous driving tech will be class leading and maybe even industry leading.
However, that’s not all of the tech. There will be two thumb-pad sensors on the steering wheel for each hand (the same required for autonomous driving) that can control the navigation and infotainment screens. These touch sensors allow the driver to operate almost all of the cars controls without ever needing to remove their hands from the wheel. A central mounted pad is available as well, but the thumb sensors make life just a bit easier while driving. There are also redundant buttons surrounding the touch sensors, for things like back, home and volume.
The E-Class will also feature a 23 speaker 1,450 watt Burmester 3D surround sound system with aluminum speaker grilles. This sound system is reported to be one of the best on the market, if not the best.
So when the E-Class finally hits, BMW will have a massive task on its hands. It will have to release a 5 Series that can at least come close to matching the E-Class’ level of luxury and refinement while also providing a better driving experience. This will be no easy task and BMW will have to pull a lot of tricks from the 7 Series to do it.