It’s almost seven years since the introduction of the fourth generation E-class, back in 2009, and now the Mercedes-Benz business all-star is ready for a new generation. Even though the tasteful facelift came out just two years ago, and looks like it could stay for a few more years, it’s the constant innovation and competition that drives production spans of most recent models to a 8 year cycle.
With the new Jaguar XF, and recent announcements of new generation BMW 5-series and Audi A6, competition is quite fierce in the business segment. Well ahead of the E-class’ official debut at the Detroit Motor Show next month, GTspirit had the opportunity to preview the design headlines of the all-new Mercedes-Benz E-class.
The E-class has a longstanding reputation when it comes to interior styling and comfort. If the ‘E’ in E-class were to stand for anything, we would say it stands for ‘elegance’. This is one of the first things that comes to mind when opening the driver’s door. We can see an elegant ‘s’ shaped line along the dashboard continuing its way onto the passenger’s door. It is however the newly designed driver’s instrument panel that steals the show in the new Mercedes-Benz E-class.
Yes, it looks similar to the one we know from the S-class. It comprises of two 12.3-inch screens, both with a resolution of 1920 x 720 pixels, creating the effect of having one large screen in the dashboard. It’s the large glass panel covering both screens at once that differentiates the new E-class’ cockpit from that of the Mercedes-Benz S-class. That is, if you were to opt for the wide-screen instrument cluster that comes with the ‘comand online’ package.
With the infotainment system and instrument cluster comes a high degree of personalization. It all revolves around choosing from three standard instrument designs: classic, sport and progressive. The classic design shows you the driver’s instruments as we know them from Mercedes-Benz, with black, white and grey accents. The sport design turns the instrument panel into funky yellow meters accompanied by slightly aggressive red accents and finally for the adventurers among us there is the progressive design: a mix of blue and turquoise accents and a different meter setup. In the end the setup concerning the rev counter and other features such as navigation and media are configurable to one’s liking no matter what design is chosen.
Choosing between designs and changing the instrument setup has never been easier. The all-new E-class Mercedes-Benz introduces touch pads on both sides of the steering wheel that are controllable using your fingers / thumbs. This means that your hands never have to leave the steering wheel when controlling the infotainment system. Touch mechanisms in the latest cars don’t always come without issues, but we have to say that these novelty touch pads on the steering wheel work perfectly.
If the touch sensitivity is not to one’s liking, Mercedes-Benz gives the driver an option to choose between a range of sensitivity levels to configure the touch pads perfectly. It’s something so small yet so brilliant, think about it. It’s no secret that the E-class has been doing quite well among the more wealthy 50+ and pensioners for many years now. This is an excellent way to innovate but still appeal to both a younger and the older generation that sometimes simply can’t keep up with the latest innovations in cars.
Arriving at the mid-console, we again find many similarities to the Mercedes-Benz S-class. It starts with the four vents that are so characteristic in the current S-class models. Here we can see that the line between E- and S-class is getting thinner and that the new E-class portrays luxury like no other business saloon in the same segment. Moving down we find the distinctive touch-sensitive knob with which one traditionally controls the infotainment system, just like in any other recent Mercedes-Benz. Just like in the latest C-class models, it features the multi-touch mechanism that lets you handwrite commands amongst other things.
As usual, Mercedes-Benz let’s the buyer choose from the finest materials to give the brand new interior the finish it deserves. We have seen combinations of yacht-like wood with a mix of saddle brown and macchiato leather stitching that wouldn’t be unbecoming in a Mercedes-Maybach. It’s another example of what’s possible when it comes to customizing the interior. Just like the ambient lighting, that elegantly accentuates the earlier mentioned S-shaped line in the interior.
It’s typically a feature that we now see in almost any luxury saloon and a feature that is not just reserved for the S-class and Maybach top-of-the-line limousines anymore. Better yet, whereas on the current S-class one has the choice of 7 different ambient lighting colours, the all-new E-class let’s you choose from between no less than 64 different colours by using a gradient tool. The idea of personalization and creating a living room ambience was given a whole new dimension by Mercedes-Benz. The cool part is that it actually seems to work. With so many different colours and interior styles to choose from it really feels like you’re in a place that is more permanent – kind of like a living room – instead of just a means of transport.
If all this isn’t enough to ‘wow’ you concerning the interior, there is always the high-end optional Burmester 3D surround sound system. Now this is quite the treat for the audiophiles among us. Although it might cost a pretty penny, the quality of the sound is undeniably one of the best available on the market today.
The 23-speaker Burmester sound system gives the passengers the feeling of being in a concert hall. Besides the usual spots for speakers, there is a speaker placed in the roof to support the 3D surround sound. And in case you were wondering, the speakers in the front do spin out just like the ones found in the Maybach. From what we’ve heard the 3D surround sound does give you that live being-in-a-concert-hall feeling and, according to the Burmester sound expert on site: ‘This Burmester speaker system is a step up from the Burmester sound system currently available on the S-class and Maybach models’. To say that the interior and available line of options on the new Mercedes-Benz E-class just doesn’t fail to impress is an understatement.
Besides the interior, we had the opportunity to have a look at the newly designed head- and rear lights. Mercedes is going to stick with the distinctive ‘double eyebrow’ LED headlights that we have come to know from the latest E-class facelift (2013). The LED daylight running lights do come optional though, as does the new multi-beam LED headlamps. At the rear the new E-class seems to be moving closer to its siblings in terms of lighting. If you were to think about trying to differentiate between the current C-class saloon and the current S-class saloon – from a distance that is – it isn’t as easy as it used to be, and the new E-class isn’t going to make it any easier on you. With that being said, it would’ve been nice if Mercedes-Benz put a tiny bit more effort into giving the rear of the new E-class a more distinctive look.
Be it the fashion inspired sculptured seats or the living room ambiance that is created with help of the many different ambient lighting options, the Mercedes-Benz E-class seems to have set the benchmark once again when it comes to luxury and comfort in this particular segment. The new Mercedes-Benz E-class has an impressively high degree of personalization, making it attractive to anyone that is in the market for a luxury business saloon. With the fresh interior design of the yet to be introduced E-class, Mercedes-Benz have really walked the talk when it comes to their slogan: ‘The best or nothing’.