Mid-life update for one of Mercedes' global top-sellers brings more active safety tech, new engines with ISG and 48V, subtle design changes
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Mercedes-Benz has revealed a mid-cycle update for its E-Class sedan and wagon range. Changes include design tweaks inside and out, new driver-assistance features, and more efficient engines.

Design changes include LED headlights and tail lights, a new grille shape that widens at the bottom, and different front and rear bumpers, and boot lid.

There are also new wheel shapes, and three new extra paint options called 'high-tech silver', 'graphite grey metallic' and 'mojave silver'. Adventurous!

Mercedes-Benz also claims the All-Terrain will look "visually more similar to the SUV models" but has not released images.

The cabin features 'open-pore silver ash wood', 'burr walnut fondant', brushed aluminium' and 'aluminium with a carbon grain' trims. There's also an 'adaptive driver's seat' which moves into a position that corresponds to your height, which you've entered into the display or Mercedes Me app.

There's also a new-look steering wheel; the latest MBUX infotainment system shown on two 10.25-inch screens (two 12.3-inch screens are optional); augmented reality satellite navigation that overlays real-time forward camera footage with directional arrows; and 'Energizing' programs that teach you better posture, play light music/change lighting/blast air to wake you up, or help you nap when charging (in the PHEV model).

Updated active safety features include a new function in the AEB that can halt the car if you're unsafely turning off across the oncoming lane; "capacitive" lane-assist that uses sensor pads to check if you've got your hands on the wheel rather than requiring wheel movements at regular intervals; and a system that can match your speed with map and traffic-sign camera data.

There's also an expanded blind-spot assist system that warns you if a car or bicycle is approaching you before you exit when parked; active cruise control that can pre-emptively slow the car if software warns of a blockage ahead, and also stop-and-go on its own in heavy traffic even if the car has been still for 60 seconds; and an expanded automatic parking function with 360-degree camera.

From the middle of 2020, the Mercedes Me app will be available in some regions with Urban Guard packages that go beyond a regular alarm. Vehicle sensors register when the parked and locked vehicle is bumped or towed, or when someone attempts to break into the vehicle. If the service is active, the driver is informed via the app. It can also pinpoint the location of a stolen vehicle, a la Apple's Find My iPhone program.

Engine details are scarce, but in response to European regulations Mercedes-Benz will offer plug-in hybrid (PHEV) systems with both petrol and diesel engines, as it is doing with the GLE SUV.

Beyond this, the entry M254 four-cylinder petrol engine gets a second-generation 48V electrical system including an energy recovery function and a mechanism to decouple the engine when gliding downhill.

There's also an integrated starter-generator that fills in the engine's torque hole with a quick 15kW/180Nm transmission-motor boost, complementing an electric compressor that builds up the twin-scroll turbo's charge pressure – especially at low combustion engine speeds.

The OM 654 and OM 656 diesels (four- and six-cylinder respectively) get an expanded emissions control system with a close-coupled NOX storage catalytic converter, a diesel particulate filter, and a SCR catalyst that injects AdBlue.

The in-line six-cylinder petrol engine (M 256), available for the first time in the E-Class, is also fitted with the aforementioned integrated starter-generator (ISG) and 48V electric architecture. This engine is already used in the CLS450 and makes 270kW/500Nm before the ISG's boost.

For those after a history lesson, Mercedes-Benz calls this current E-Class the tenth generation of the model, including the W136 from 1946 and also including the W120 'Ponton' of the 1950s, W110 'Fintail' of the '60s, W114 of the '70s, the W123 of the '70s and '80s, to the W124.

The actual E-Class badge was first affixed to a Mercedes-Benz in 1993 as a mid-life update, and there have been four subsequent new generations of the name.

All up, Daimler claims to have sold more than 14 million of these cars. More interestingly, despite a worldwide SUV boom, this current E-Class has found 1.2 million buyers since 2016.

Australia

Mercedes-Benz says to expect the updated E-Class locally from the fourth quarter of 2020, meaning as soon as October, a few months after the European launch in the Northern Hemisphere's summer. The coupe and convertible versions will "follow soon thereafter".

The company is not disclosing which versions to expect, though we'd speculate on entry-grade petrol and diesel versions, an inline-six, a plug-in hybrid, and the AMG family comprising E 53 4Matic+ (detailed in updated form here) and the as-yet unrevealed E 63 S 4Matic+ flagship update.

At present, the only Estate/wagon derivative sold locally is the All-Terrain, which we'd expect to remain the case.

Despite getting on in years, the E-Class remains the segment leader here. In 2019 the company's Australian arm sold 1228 units, equal to nearly 43 per cent market share. That beat the BMW 5 Series (33.4 per cent share) into second.


Below: the current E-Class