The Mercedes E-class – which not long ago was Mercedes’ cash cow – will be overhauled for 2016, in a bid to boost its appeal and revive sales. The new car, codenamed W213, will mix style and substance, overflow with space-age gadgets, pack brand new engines and spawn sports cars and a seven-seater. Here’s all the juicy stuff…
Style over space
Think E-class means upright saloon and huge wagon? Think again. The new model has a new platform, unlocking sportier proportions. It’s wider, lower, has shorter overhangs and, despite a longer wheelbase, less loadspace and headroom. The upside could be dynamism to give Jaguar a fright. The look apes the new S-class and C-class, with lower grille, chunkier bumpers and four LED headlamps. One sore point: there’s no C-class-style 100kg weight loss – blame the high cost of lightweight materials.
The E-class will be dripping with amazing gadgets. The head-up display incorporates augmented reality, relaying information about your surroundings. The next step in autonomous driving will be an ‘autobahn mode’, with the car driving you at up to 80mph. Specify Magic Body Control and the ride refinement should be spectacular: cameras spy undulations up ahead, and the car hydraulically adjusts the damping to dial out bumps. Find that car park, step out and let the E-class park itself.
Here’s a sea-change: Benz is ditching the V6 for in-line sixes, last used in 1999. It’s to boost efficiency, and copies BMW’s approach of pairing cylinders of around 500cc, to create in-line three-, four- or six-cylinder powerpacks as required. Petrol and diesel fours and sixes are able to share 60% of all parts, cutting costs by 35%. The petrol six will range from 200 to 400bhp. Turbocharged fours, coupled to six-speed manual ’boxes, power base cars, with a nine-speed auto option. In top spec the diesel six will top 300bhp.
Mercedes is keen to restore its reputation for creating the gold standard in cabin quality. Building on the S-class’s interior (pictured, right), the E will unleash a host of new features. It needs two full-size colour monitors to handle its complexity, with one even screening images of your hand to help you use the controlling touchpad without looking down! The sat-nav can guide you via real images, and the window tint adjusts to suit varying privacy needs. Efficient electric surface heating will eliminate some air vents.
Hybrids and AMG
That’s where e-motors come in. Merc is plotting two plug-in hybrid modules, boosting power by either 80bhp or 110bhp, to supplement the engines. They’re not just about power: expect a 30-mile zero emissions range too. There will also be a mild-hybrid option, with 40bhp and just a three-mile range. While coupling the sixes and e-motors will provide decent performance, petrol V8s survive. Phew! So the E63 AMG, expected in 2017, will run a 4.0-litre V8, packing around 600bhp and 553lb ft of torque. The current M5 – with 552bhp and 0-62mph in 4.5sec – looks in peril.
The E-class will spawn a CLS four-door coupe, plus two-door coupe and soft-top versions. This time, they’ll be true to their badging: the current E-class two-doors are based on C-class mechanicals, so their successors will offer more space and all those gadgets. The jury is still out on replacing the new-to-market CLS Shooting Brake, and introducing a new ‘SportCruiser’ model. Think of this as a successor to the R-class: it’ll be 150mm longer, with seven seats. May cost more than £50k in autumn 2017.gets the green light.