The all-new Mercedes-Benz E-Class undergoes its final shakedown in preparation for a late-2015 unveiling with more space, better efficiency and straight-six engines
Looking very much like the lovechild between the smaller C-Class and S-Class flagship, the W213 E-Class sedan as well as its T213 Estate wagon sibling also snapped here ditch the angular fussiness of their outgoing, 2009-vintage W212 predecessors for elegant proportions and aero-aiding curves.
Employing a longer and wider variation of Mercedes’ aluminium-intensive MRA Modular Rear-drive Architecture that was first used in the W205 C-Class in late 2013, the 10th-generation E-Class will be the biggest in the models’ near 65-year history. Its stretched wheelbase promises to provide unprecedented levels of interior space and despite the growth spurt, overall weight should match the smaller current model’s mass.
The big Benz also adopts a rollcall of S-Class-derived advanced driver tech, including sophisticated active crash-avoidance systems to make it one of the safest cars on the planet. Flanked by twin bars in the scoop shots, that’s what that big black plastic circle in the middle of the grille is hiding. Up-spec versions also adopt trick adaptive dampers combined with air suspension to help offset the inevitable 20-inch-plus wheel and tyre packages.
Cue surprise face: this will also be the greenest E yet, with a variety of e-motor electric hybrids on the menu as alternatives to the direct-injection four and six cylinder turbo petrol and diesel powerplants on offer. And, at last, the six-potters are said to revert to the classic in-line configuration not seen in this sized Benz in nearly 20 years, burying the ageing V6s forever. For Australia, expect to see the new-fangled nine-speed 9G-tronic torque converter auto on most models.
A peek inside the prototype’s cabin reveals a very C-Class inspired dashboard with more than a big helping of S-Class-style piano key like switchgear and twin monitors, dissected by a quartet of metallic air vents and COMAND rotary controller. All aim to exude the brand’s obsessive attempt to restore bank-vault quality to the series.
Along with the inevitable E63 AMG replacement – which will switch from the 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 to a development of the 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 from the Mercedes-AMG GT – the 2016 E-Class will also spawn the predictable coupe and convertible, as well as a third-gen CLS coupe sedan offshoots. Furthermore, the Mk4 version of the GLE SUV (formerly known as the M-Class) will also spring off the MRA componentry. Rumours are also circulating that an R-Class replacement may also surface with three-row seating.
But it is the base sub-2.0-litre four-pot turbos that will be the breadwinners for the three-pointed star Down Under, with the E200 replacement set to start off under $80,000 when it arrives later in the second half of next year.
The W213’s exact launch timing remains a secret, with speculation suggesting that it may debut as soon as at this September’s IAA show in Frankfurt, though other sources reckon that a Geneva reveal next March is more likely.
Whenever we see the new E-Class, 2016 promises to be a vintage year for the large executive sedan (and wagon) market, with the second-gen Jaguar XF imminent, while the next-gen BMW 5 Series expected to debut internationally before 2017.
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