On the way out are the Mercedes E-class's pontoon-style rear side panels, the quad headlamps and the ritzy daytime running lights. Instead, the revised 2013 E-class features a brand-new front end, restyled rear side panels, and a heavily modified rear view.
It's hard to believe, but the only exterior elements the 2013 model is going to carry over from the current vintage are the roof, the front doors and the windows. Everything else is new, fresh, contempory, less contrived and more coherent.
Mercedes facelifts the E-class - ahead of a range overhaul
Although Mercedes won't start the Real Design Revolution before 2014 when the next C-class and brand-new S-class coupé are due to see the light, the facelifted E-class is notably more elegant and less in-your-face that the version it replaces.
The saloon goes on sale in spring 2013, the estate follows in summer 2013, while the AMG and 4Matic editions wrap things up that autumn. Also coming are three different hybrid versions.
The C-class is selling in bigger numbers and the S-class is earning bigger profits, but no other Mercedes is positioned closer to the core of the brand than the E-class. The extensive reskin eliminates most of the overly decorative styling cues while taking on board such new items as single-piece multi-functional headlamp units as well as a small army of cameras, lenses and sensors that feed the more advanced driver assistance systems.
The driver gadgets coming on the 2013 Mercedes E-class facelift
There's an awful lot coming:
• Improved night assistant Not only draws the attention to cyclists and pedestrians but also warns of crossing wild animals
• Dynamic light assistant No longer uses adaptive bi-xenon technology but relies on fast moving multi-directional LED pixels which automatically avoid oncoming traffic
• Intelligent lane assistant Not only monitor own lane but also supervises oncoming traffic and will issue an early collision warning
• Intelligent brake assistant Derived from Distronic III, this radar-based cruise control keeps an eye on the vehicle in front and - as a world first - on cross traffic
• Congestion assistant Automatically follows the vehicle in front at speeds of up to 40mph even if the route involves direction and lane changes
• Magic ride control Employs a stereo camera which scans the road surface and makes the black box adjust damper action accordingly
• Head-up display Extended functions, state-of-the-art graphics, multi-colour imaging
• Car-to-X-communication Recognises police/ambulance/fire brigade vehicles, relays car-to-car messages like black ice or aquaplaning warning, permits partially autonomous driving though brief steering, brake and acceleration inputs
Yep, that's right. There's no excuse to crash the E-class now.
Engines on board the facelifted E-class
Mercedes still has no answer to the high-performance diesels offered by Audi (313bhp) and BMW (381bhp). Since a significant boost in power output would require a brand-new derv-drinking V6 which is at this point not funded, even the all-new next E-class out in 2015 will be wanting in this department.
In Europe, the only V8 which survives in the E-class is the 537bhp 5.5-litre kraftwerk reserved for the E63 AMG. The E500 becomes an export-only model which sheds the ageing 408bhp unit in favour of a turbocharged 4.6-litre motor good for 435bhp and 516lb ft.
The modified E200 will be equipped with a 156bhp 1.6-litre four built by Renault - of course to MB specification. Another new addition to the range is the E350 which gains extra grunt from its 333bhp 3.5-litre V6.
The only change on the diesel front concerns the demise of the 300 CDI. In terms of alternative drivetrains, there is a 27bhp mild hybrid in the works which will be followed by a 68bhp plug-in edition in 2014 and by an even brawnier 109bhp top-of-the-line planet saver twelve months later (all bhp numbers relate to the electric motor).
One more thing: the 252bhp engine earmarked for the E300 may at the eleventh hour switch from the familiar 3.0-litre V6 to a new turbocharged 2.0-litre four. Seems like the BMW 328i has given the competition some food for thought.