The new-generation 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class has been given an official unveiling at this week’s NAIAS Detroit auto show, ahead of an Australian debut expected to occur around June.
Today’s unveiling follows the new large car’s surfacing earlier this month, when a full selection of marketing photos appeared in the German press.
The new fifth-generation ‘W213’ E-Class has been a long time coming, with the current model on the global stage since 2009. A comprehensive styling update in 2013 made the E-Class fresh again, but the brand’s design language has leaped ahead in the years since.
For the new E-Class, that means the latest evolution of Mercedes-Benz’s broad and upright grille design, long and subtly muscular profile, and a relatively lengthy rear deck.
In the cabin, the new E-Class again borrows from its C- and S-Class siblings. The dash design that takes styling elements from both, with a wave-like shape matched to a wide centre console and classic circular vents.
Sharing the MRA platform of the C- and S-Class models, the new E-Class is notably longer than its predecessor. It rides on a wheelbase that has grown 65mm to a new 2939mm, while overall length grows 43mm to 4923mm.
Every model in the new E-Class range promises to be lighter than its predecessor, thanks to a liberal use of aluminium and ultra-high-strength steel components. Specific weight figures are still to be released, but Mercedes claims savings in the range of 70kg.
Depending on the market, variants available from launch will include the 135kW/300Nm E200 petrol, 143kW/400Nm E220d and 190kW/620Nm E350d diesels and the E350e plug-in hybrid, driven by a 155kW/350Nm petrol engine and 82kW/360Nm electric motor for combined 205kW/600Nm system numbers.
Fuel figures on the European test cycle are listed at 5.9 L/100km (four-cylinder E200), 3.9 L/100km (four-cylinder E220d), 5.1L/100km (six-cylinder E350d) and an ultra-low 2.1L/100km for the ultra-green E350e.
The E350d is the quickest of the launch range with a 0-100km/h time of 5.9 seconds, followed by the E350e’s 6.2-second sprint. The E220d lists 7.2 seconds and the E200 lists 7.7 seconds.
Down the road, the E-Class range will be joined by a six-cylinder 245kW/480Nm E400 4Matic all-wheel-drive model, while new entry-end additions will include a new 110kW diesel four-cylinder model and a 180kW four-cylinder petrol.
All variants will be equipped exclusively with the carmaker’s own 9G-tronic nine-speed automatic transmission.
Details on the hero AMG models are still to come, although the new E63 has already been spied testing.
Conventional steel suspension will feature as standard in the new E-Class, although three Direct Control suspension systems will also be offered: Comfort, Comfortable Avantgarde with a 15mm lower ride and more sporting intent, and Sport with 15mm lower ride and adaptive damping.
As always, technology forms the core of the E-Class range’s strategy, in the cabin and under the skin.
In lower-end models, a wide 8.4-inch centre display is matched to a more conventional instrument cluster made up of two mechanical dials and a smaller information display, while up-spec variants feature an expansive pairing of two 12.3-inch screens.
Mercedes-Benz also claims a world-first, adding touchpads to the steering wheel controls that allow on-screen functions to be controlled and menus to be navigated through by swiping with trackpad-like gestures. (Read more on the E-Class interior and cabin technologies.)
Autonomous driving technology is baked into the new E-Class, and while much of it won’t be available from launch, Mercedes-Benz says it will unleash the most advanced self-driving features later in its life-cycle as legislation allows.
From launch - although not in all markets - the new E-Class offer a Remote Parking Pilot feature that allows the vehicle to be parked and summoned without anyone in the driver’s seat. BMW offers a similar system with its larger and more expensive new 7 Series, and Tesla has just this week launched its own version with a software update to the Model S sedan.
Active Lane-Changing Assist will also feature, allowing the driver to indicate their intention to change lanes and then leave the actual work to the vehicle’s radar- and camera-equipped computer.
The E-Class will also debut the latest in automatic V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) and V2X (vehicle-to-everything) communication, allowing the car to exchange presence and movement information with other out-of-sight vehicles. This will essentially allow the vehicle to see through corners, enabling it to be better prepared for situations and hazards further down the road.
The most advanced of the new E-Class’s intelligent driving systems will be Drive Pilot. As with the S-Class’s Distance Pilot Distronic system, Drive Pilot can autonomously control acceleration, braking and steering - but at speeds of up to 210km/h.
Relaxed hands-free cruising and urban navigation is the intention and, legislation aside, Mercedes-Benz says Drive Pilot will allow motorists to travel long distances with only occasional input required.
The new E-Class is pencilled in for a June launch in Australia. BMW is expected to reveal its next-generation 5 Series in the coming months, and an all-new Audi A6 is also expected to appear soon. Fans of British engineering, however, can look forward to the all-new Jaguar XF next month.
Watch for Australian details on the new E-Class to come soon.
UPDATE: Mercedes-Benz Australia will launch the car in June with one petrol four-cylinder engine option, one diesel four-cylinder and one six-cylinder diesel. The range will kick off a touch higher than at present, at a shade over $80,000.
Four other engines including a new straight-six and the next Mercedes-AMG E63 will appear by Q1, 2017. The Estate versions should appear before the end of 2016, with an all-wheel-drive option being considered (not on the sedan).
The company is hoping to increase volume, even though it already tops its segment, and is targeting to sell about 150 units per month, up from 120.
As you can read here, the full suite of autonomous tech won't launch until about late 2016, as ADRs are sought.