Often we overlook the model where the bread is buttered and focus on the more attractive and glorious of the lineup. In the case of Mercedes-Benz the E-Class has been the most successful selling vehicle over many years and they have created several different version of this car. While we think of it as a midsized luxury sedan in the US this car actually makes some of its life as a taxi cab in other parts of the world to be an extremely cool car to have a cab ride in.
The S-Class is what Mercedes-Benz wants us to eventually work up to, but their sales leader has been the E-Class and thus this is where they put their focus more than other models. In the US alone the E-Class sells at a rate of more than 60,000 units each year and even in the final year of the last generation this car enjoyed 49,736 models sold in the US. In Europe this car sells at more than 100,000 version each year which makes it the volume leader for Mercedes- Benz and a car that has to be cared for to keep it selling at an enjoyable rate.
Will the new E-Class continue to be a great sales leader for Mercedes-Benz? To answer this question we can start by taking a look at the new styling that is offered. While the style of the new E-Class is right in line with the C-Class and S-Class the new E-Class will be the midsized version of the same gorgeous look, but it seems the E-Class looks the best of the three. When you offer a matte finish to a car it immediately gains a new appeal that is more dramatic than ever and this car has that and much more.
On the inside guess what you get; yup, you get what looks like a smaller version of the S-Class or a slightly larger model of the C-Class. There are gorgeous materials all over the car and the two-toned leather look that is trimmed in aluminum stands out easily from the other cars in this class. The dashboard does offer three different loos, Normal, Sport and Eco to give you the readouts you want and a different feeling for each one. The Normal appears to be normal while the Sport mode turns the gauges yellow and Eco moves the tachometer to the center so you can watch your driving manners.
As with any other new model the beginning will be slow and then it will pick up speed. What I mean is we will only have one model to start with this summer and that will be the E300. This car will enjoy the power of the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine that makes 241 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. This doesn’t sound like an award winning luxury car, but it is right in line with the BMW 528i to be a great place to begin.
There will be more powerful versions that will show up later and both of them will be badged as AMG versions which brings an immediate feeling if desire and speed when you mention that badging. The E43 will have a twin turbocharged V6 and the E60 will showcase a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8. After these two show up we expect to see a diesel and even a plug-in hybrid version to round out the model lineup. The transmission across the line will be a nine-speed automatic that will shift smoothly. The E300 will be offered in either RWD or AWD and should reach sixty in 6.2 seconds, which isn’t screaming fast, but its still pretty quick.
The ride expectations continue to be of a smooth driving car that makes use of the amazing suspension that has been part of the Mercedes- Benz lineup for many models. You can feel the car and all its movements but also feel like the car is floating above the wheels. The wheelbase has been increased by 3.9 inches to make it easier to sit in the backseat and enjoy the ride, especially when someone knows how to really drive this car.
An extremely cool feature we will enjoy on the new E-Class is the semiautonomous driving feature. This is called Drive Pilot on the E-Class and it will allow the car to follow the car in front up to speeds of 130 mph as long as the lanes are marked clearly. The car will do this without you touching the steering wheel, but a graphic will ask you to touch the wheel every so often to make sure you are still paying attention to the car. You can even allow the Drive Pilot to change lanes by pressing the turn signal and then cancelling the signal when you are in the desired lane. The version we will have in the US will use GPS and adjust for posted speed limits, but this can be overridden by using the cruise control.
Does all this answer our initial question of whether or not this car will be as competitive as the car it replaces? The answer seems to be a resounding “yes” but it may not be a complete hit until the rest of the E-Class lineup comes to our dealerships in the US for us to be able to enjoy and AMG model or a hybrid version of the car.