Mercedes-Benz on Tuesday took the covers off a redesigned E-Class. The new sedan represents the sixth generation of the nameplate, and is due in showrooms late this year as a 2024 model.
With the redesign, Mercedes has looked to combine the nameplate’s traditional luxury and comfort qualities with a high level of digital capability. This is highlighted by a new electrical architecture that controls a wide array of functions and will support over-the-air updates down the road. Mercedes said that by focusing more on software rather than hardware installed in the cabin, there’s the potential to add functionality more frequently in the future.
The new E-Class is still a big and comfy sedan. Its proportions are similar to that of the outgoing model but an extra 0.9 inch for the wheelbase (116.0 inches in total) means cabin space has increased slightly. The trunk also holds 19.0 cubic feet of cargo.
The exterior styling follows an evolutionary path, and is similar to the look found on the latest generations of the C-Class and S-Class. The grille for the first time features an illuminated surround, though this feature isn’t standard. The headlights get a dual-element design that provides a nod to the headlight design on earlier E-Class generations.
Inside, up to three screens take up space on the dash, depending on the specification. One screen is for the digital instrument cluster (12.8 inches), another is for the infotainment hub (14.4 inches), and a third and final screen faces the front passenger and features controls for some vehicle functions, along with entertainment and navigation options (12.3 inches). Content shown on the screens is generated by the vehicle’s operating system, as well as the infotainment system. However, third-party apps can also be installed. Mercedes gave the examples of TikTok, Angry Birds, Zync video streaming, and the web browser Vivaldi. Apps such as Zoom can also be used, thanks to a dash-mounted camera facing the driver and front passenger.
For obvious safety reasons, many of these functions will only operate when the car is stationary, and the screen facing the front passenger has a camera-based “filtering concept” that prevents it from being displayed in the driver’s line of sight.
For audiophiles, the E-Class will have an available Burmester sound system supporting Dolby Atmos technology. Occupants will not only be able to feel the sound by way of resonating transducers, but also enjoy visual cues by means of an active ambient lighting package. A song with a fast sequence of beats would cause rapid light changes, while flowing rhythms would cause softly merging light changes. Mercedes will also offer its relaxation system known as Energizing Comfort. The system works to alter the mood of occupants via soothing sounds, specific light sequences, and massage and heating functions.
Artificial intelligence systems are also being developed to be capable of learning what features are used repeatedly, so those functions can be automated to a degree. For example, if the owner regularly plays a sport on Thursday evenings and then uses the massage function on the way home, the car would be able to learn this routine. While this feature won’t be available at launch, Mercedes said owners will be able to program some routines. One example could be a routine for the climate settings, like a warming routine in which a specific cold temperature threshold would be set and the seat and steering wheel warmers switched on whenever the threshold is met.
When it comes to driving, an available Technology package will add air suspension with adjustable dampers, as well as rear-wheel steering. The addition of the rear-wheel-steering system reduces the turning circle of the E-Class by up to 35.4 inches.
Standard electronic driver-assist features will include a driver-attention monitor, automatic emergency braking, active lane control, speed limit information, and automatic parking.
Full specifications for the U.S. will be announced closer to the market launch, though Mercedes has confirmed it will initially offer the E-Class in E 350 and E 450 grades, with a 9-speed automatic, all-wheel drive, and a mild-hybrid system standard on both. The E 350 will feature a 2.0-liter turbo-4 rated at 255 hp and the E 450 will have a 3.0-liter turbo-6 rated at 375 hp. The mild-hybrid system provides a temporary 20-hp boost during high-load situations and can recover energy under braking.
More grades are planned, including sporty options from AMG, like a new E 63. Mercedes will also offer additional body styles, including a wagon and wagon-based soft-roader. Don’t look for a repeat of the current E-Class coupe and convertible body styles. Those two models, together with the former coupe and convertible versions of the C-Class, are expected to be replaced by a single model range dubbed the CLE-Class.
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