Mercedes-Benz has just removed the covers from the brand-new E Class sedan at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show and given us the low-down on its specs. The latest iteration of everyone’s favorite taxi comes with the familial looks taken from Mercedes own flagship S Class sedan, a design Mercedes-Benz calls “Sensual Purity”, whatever that means. To look at the E Class without bias, it’s a good looking car. It’s handsome and understated with little flash, but it’s effective. The idea is to give off a feel of understated luxury and it does that very well.
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The E Class looks its best with the sporty AMG package, as it moves the three-pointed star onto the grill instead of making it a hood ornament. But the AMG package also gives it some sportier touches all the way around which really help the very round and sort of bubbly E Class look more mature. Expect the full-on AMG model to look really quite good, much like the S Class and C Class. Aside from that, though, if you’ve seen the new S Class or C Class, then you’ve seen the new E Class. They look nearly identical.
The BMW 5 Series, though, is starting to look a bit old. BMW has updated nearly every model since the current 5 Series debuted and the old girl is starting to look her age. While still a very handsome car, it just doesn’t look as fresh as it used to. When equipped with the M Sport package, it becomes a much sharper and more premium looking car, especially in the front end, but without it the 5 Series can look just a bit dumpy in comparison to its newer, sharper rivals. Having said that, the 5 Series still looks better than the new E Class at the rear. It has better looking headlights and the trunk lid is more pronounced, whereas the rear of the E Class looks like its melting, a la CLA Class. The 5er also has a more dynamic body line running down its beltline, which adds some much needed visual drama that the E Class simply doesn’t have, with its slab-sided body.
Inside, it’s a whole different ballgame, however. The E Class looks very fresh and very modern, with screens and gizmos and gadgets everywhere. Mercedes-Benz has actually done a good job of making it look very modern without making it seem childish. It still looks and feels like and adult luxury cabin, just with some of the most advanced tech around. The seats look positively lovely and I’d like to replace my living room couch with a couple of them. The customizable gauge cluster is great looking and the twin screens look better integrated then on the S Class. However, Mercedes has to lose the column shifter ASAP. This isn’t an old Buick.
On the inside of the 5 Series, things stay the same as on the outside, unfortunately — dated. The interior of the 5 Series is still very nice and I think BMW has nailed the ergonomics better than Mercedes has. But it’s a pretty standard looking interior with nothing to really catch your eye. While BMW uses a pretty straight piece of trim along the dash with really standard-looking air vents, that look like they could come from any car, the E Class has a beautiful flowing trim with very upscale circular metal air vents. It just looks more premium inside the E Class. Though, the 5 Series should be getting a very serious refresh soon with interior styling taken from the gorgeous 7 Series.
Overall, The E Class might be the better looking package. It’s more modern, it’s fresher and it looks and feels more premium. Not necessarily a knock on the 5 Series so much as just pointing to its age. This current-gen 5 Series debuted five years ago and this E Class debuted five minutes ago. So this is really just a case of new versus old.