Mercedes’ renaissance promises to continue with the all-new E-class cabriolet and coupe. Under development and set for launch in 2017, the new sports cars share the all-new hardware from the next E-class saloon (codenamed W213), including its boxfresh straight-six engines, and a high-tech cockpit to make Luke Skywalker envious. The design will evolve the look of the current car, which is pictured here. Read on to find out more.
Will the sporty Mercedes Es be undersized and overpriced again?
Today’s two-door models may wear E-class badges, but body structure, chassis and suspension are pure C-class, and they’re a bit short and cramped. This will change in early 2017 when the new soft-top arrives, followed by a fixed-head variant later the same year. Both cars are proper four-seaters with a sizeable boot to match. The coupé again does without B-pillars, which adds a distinctive touch of style when all windows are down.
What’s under the skin?
The new E-class family will roll on an advanced, rear-wheel drive architecture, dubbed MRA. It’s extremely flexible, allowing track and wheelbase alterations and importantly for sports cars, shorter overhangs. Wider and lower than today’s cars, the next E-class sports cars will look noticeably more dynamic.
Unfortunately, the MRA chassis does not shed as much weight as this year’s new C-class, which can be up to 100kg lighter than its predecessor. With E-class sales stalled as customers downsize, the number-crunchers haven’t okayed too many exotic lightweight materials.
Tell me about these exciting new engines…
The big news is that Mercedes is ditching V6 engines for inline sixes, which are paired with the fourpots to reduce complexity. As a result, 60% of all parts - diesel and petrol, fours and sixes - are interchangeable, which cuts production expenditure by almost 35%.
The petrol straight six, labelled M256, displaces 3.0 litres. Key features include an EU6-compatible combustion process, Camtronic variable valve timing, turbochargers with adjustable vanes and electrically operated auxiliary equipment.
The sixes cover the 200bhp to 400bhp bracket; above them sits the new 4.0-litre V8 (tagged M177), which is due in 2017 powering the next E63 AMG. In essence sharing the cylinder heads with the turbocharged four, the eight-ender delivers 600bhp and 553lb ft in AMG trim.
The new diesel-fed straight six, codenamed OM656, is a 2.9-litre unit, topping 300bhp in flagship form. To help it match the BMW’s 381bhp triple-turbo diesel, Mercedes will use electric assistance.
There are three hybrid options: mild (40bhp, three mile range) and plug-in (80 and 110bhp, up to 30 mile range). While the 80bhp motor would make a good match for a four-cylinder petrol or diesel engine, the high-performance 110bhp E-pack would be well suited for the six.
The four-cylinder petrol units will be carried over from current models, but the diesel fours (dubbed OM654) are all-new and up to 20% more frugal. Even though the entry-level fourpots can still be had with a manual six-speeder, most customers prefer the state-of-the-art, nine-speed automatic which also helps to save fuel.
What’s the inside story?
Mercedes’ latest cockpits in the C- and S-class have much more flair, and the E-class will build on that while embracing the latest technology. The completely redesigned cabin boasts such innovations as two full-size colour monitors, an extended array of assistance systems, fresh options like head-up display and semi-autonomous driving mode, new convenience items like electric surface heating and improved night vision, intriguing high-tech items like magic body control, ultra-efficient automatic air conditioning and LED-based intelligent lighting.
The new Human-Machine Interface abandons the Comand controller in favour of a central touchpad, a steering-wheel with two scrollerball control units instead of a dozen buttons, and a camera-based 'view transfer system' which relays your out-of-sight hand movements on the low-set touchpad to the instrument panel, so you can monitor what your fingers are touching without taking your eyes off the road.
In addition, voice control gets a makeover. Sat-nav uses real imagery as a backdrop, the intensity of the window tint can be adjusted, and if so required the driver may watch the autopilot park the car from a comfortable vantage point on the sidewalk.