Now entering its tenth generation for 2017, Mercedes-Benz’s mid-range E-Class luxury sedan transforms with a modern look, and some truly cutting edge technology that looks to raise the standard for the class.
An engineering marvel, the E-Class is lighter despite being longer, and its body shape is slipperier than ever to reduce road noise and fuel consumption. Two distinct styling packages are available – Sport, which features an AMG-designed grille with large central Mercedes logo, and Luxury, which features a more traditional chrome-capped grille with three-pointed star hood ornament. The latter also is offered with a comfort-oriented suspension tune. Other advancements of the E-Class include a new multi-link suspension design with optional air suspension.
The interior takes a big leap forward, and a page from the flagship S-Class in terms of its styling, with available ambient lighting (64 colours!), cabin scent atomizer, quilted stitched leather upholstery, heated arm rests, and as well as a premium 23-speaker Burmester sound system with brushed metal speaker grilles. Like the S, it features a large centre display (8.4 inches in the standard form, 12.3 inches as an optional upgrade) centre console with excellent graphics, but goes one step further by allowing drivers to control most features including the climate control right from the steering wheel using touch-sensitive pads. An additional 12.3-inch display is available for the instrument cluster as an optional upgrade from traditional analogue gauges.
Initially, the E-Class will arrive as the E300, powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine, which is shared in common with the GLC and C-Class. It makes 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, and comes paired to a nine-speed automatic and 4Matic all-wheel drive. Mercedes estimates a 0-100 km/h time of 6.3 seconds. Those desiring a bit more gusto may wish to wait for the E400 which packs a 3.0-litre turbo V6 with 333 hp, or the new entry-level Mercedes-AMG E43 which boasts a 396-hp and 384 lb-ft of torque version of that engine. The latter gets a rear-biased all-wheel drive system, and sport-tuned air suspension and will aim at the likes of the Audi S6 and BMW 550i. A V8-powered E63 is certain to follow at a later date.
What buyers won’t have to wait for is semi-autonomous driving capability. In addition to the de rigueur emergency autonomous braking, lane-keeping assist, the new Intelligent Drive Package includes Drive Pilot, which allows the car to accelerate, brake, and steer on its own – hands free – for periods of time. The E is also capable of changing lanes on its own, a process activated when the driver taps the turn signal. Another safety oriented innovation comes in the form of Pre-Safe Impulse Side, which uses radar sensors to detect a pending side impact; the seats will automatically inflate to push the driver toward the centre of the car. In all, this could very well be the safest new vehicle on the road today.
E-Class equipment includes standard 18-inch wheels, full LED headlamps, sunroof, Sport exterior styling, heated 14-way power adjustable seats upholstered in Artico leatherette, push-button start, attention assist, active brake assist, blind-spot warning, rain-sensing wipers, and run-flat tires. Oddly, a reverse camera is not standard, nor is a proximity key or rear heated seats; they are included as a part of equipment packages or available as standalone options.