Mercedes E-class (2016) spied: straight sixes are back!

Published: 23 March 2015

► Meet the new 2016 Merc E-class
► V6s are out, straight sixes are in!
► New spyshots, full tech spec revealed

Mercedes is busy putting the finishing touches to its new 2016 E-class, which ushers in a new era of straight six engines, self-driving tech and hybrids galore. And our spy photographers have caught prototypes of the new executive car on the road in Germany.

Codenamed W213, next year’s new E-class is closely related to the range-topping S-class and shares its MRA rear- and four-wheel drive platform enabling much of the clever-clogs tech.

That’s MRA for Modular Rear-wheel drive Architecture, the scalable hardware that’s earmarked for everything bearing the three-pointed star from C-class upwards, bar the crossovers.

New E-class: lighter, more aluminium

One of the key features on the new 2016 E is the increased use of aluminium, said to shave between 70-150kg from the kerbweight of today’s car. But this is much, much more than just a weight-saving exercise.

For the MRA oily bits will also usher in a new era of downsized engines – and the return of the straight six engine.

Why Mercedes is returning to straight sixes

With the launch of the new E-class, Mercedes will start phasing out the V6 engines in favour of brand-new, cheaper-to-build modular in-line six-cylinder motors in petrol and diesel form which are closely related to the corresponding fours. 

Out first is the 2.9-litre diesel six, which develops 313bhp in twin-turbo guise and over 400bhp when motivated by four chargers, two of them battery-driven. 

At the bottom end of the E-class range, we find a new 122bhp 1.6-litre four-pot, which is said to average 99g of CO2 per kilometre. 

More hybrid E-classes are coming too

Mercedes will launch 10 new plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) by 2017. Among them are three E-class derivatives: a mix of 2.0-litre four and 82bhp e-motor, a US-only blend of 3.0-litre V6 and 109bhp e-machine, and a still-to-be defined Europe-only PHEV diesel which will be added later in the lifecycle. 

Bodystyles expected in the new Mercedes E-class range

No surprises – yet – in the proposed E-class line-up. Daimler already sells Es in every which shape and it’s business as usual in the bodystyle department. Our sources confirm the following choices:

E-class saloon The mainstay E
E-class estate The sensible load-lugging choice
E-class LWB Important for China where sales are growing
Coupe Due to grow a size to become proper four-seaters
Convertible Also a four-seater
CLS Swooping style for fashionista
CLS Shooting Brake Swooping style for gangsters

Gadgets galore

The new 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-class is set to become a true tech showcase for Daimler. The onwards march towards autonomous driving will be furthered by the E-class’s stepping-stone technology.

The car will park itself – by your phone in confined spaces even – have gesture control, auto-pilot style cruise control that steers on the autobahn and augmented reality in the head-up display.

Yep, the art of driving is changing at a scarily exciting pace. And the new E-class charges us straight into this brave new world.

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel