2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Preview

FAST FACTS
  • All-new design
  • The world's most aerodynamically efficient sedan, according to the manufacturer
  • Two engine choices: V-6 and V-8
  • All-wheel drive (AWD) and diesel derivates expected to follow
  • New innovative safety and lighting features
  • Official debut isn't until March of 2009
  • Expected in showrooms this summer

Introduction

Mercedes-Benz has been manufacturing midsize executive sedans for decades. In 1984, it launched its first officially-titled E-Class model. This car proved very popular, and was offered in 4-door sedan, 5-door station wagon, 2-door coupe, and 2-door convertible configurations over the next decade. The second-generation model arrived in 1995 as simply a sedan and station wagon-the same two body styles available with the third-generation E-Class that succeeded it in 2003. Interestingly, while the North American market consumes the E-Class as a private luxury sedan, they often see duty as taxi cabs and police cars in other regions.

Destined to compete head-to-head with the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6, the all-new 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the fourth generation of the popular model. The new E-Class sedan (a wagon is expected to follow later) receives the latest advancements in engineering, safety, technology, and in-car entertainment and arrives in showrooms during the summer of 2009.

Model Lineup

The all-new 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class initially arrives as a 4-door sedan in two models: E350 and E500. The E350 is offered with a V-6 powerplant, while the E500 features a more powerful V-8 engine. Both are rear-wheel drive. Later this year, Mercedes is expected to introduce an all-wheel-drive (AWD) variant with its 4Matic all-weather traction system. An enthusiast-oriented AMG model, called the E63, and a Mercedes-Benz BlueTec diesel model are expected to follow thereafter.

Compared to the outgoing E-Class, the new model is slightly longer (.05 inches), wider (1.26 inches), and rides on a marginally longer wheelbase (0.8 inches). Even with the increases in dimension, the new platform is more rigid and the sheetmetal is significantly more aerodynamic (with a drag coefficient of just 0.25, Mercedes claims it is the world's most aerodynamically efficient luxury sedan). These improvements increase fuel efficiency, make the car quieter, and enhance the ride, according to the manufacturer.

Passengers will enjoy the standard leather upholstery with real wood trim, a full range of standard electronic accessories, and intelligent multi-zone climate control. The standard audio package includes an AM/FM/CD receiver with 8 speakers and a Bluetooth interface for phone connectivity.

Design

Conservative overall, the exterior of the new sedan shares many styling cues with the Mercedes-Benz ConceptFASCINATION show car. The front end features a traditional horizontal-slat, bright Mercedes-Benz grille with independent headlamps on each side and twin inset fog lamps. Set below the mid-point on the bumper are additional fog lamps, bringing the total to four, while LED daytime running lamps, now familiar on European vehicles from Audi and Porsche, have been moved just above the front splitter. The prominent creases in the sheetmetal, reminiscent of the new Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class, give the sedan an athletic appearance. The rear of the new E-Class features LED taillamps and twin exhaust outlets, as it continues the angular theme started in the front.

The interior of the 2010 Mercedes E-Class builds on the styling cues introduced by the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Individual round gauges (speedometer, tachometer, clock, fuel and coolant temperature) peer through the 4-spoke steering wheel. The middle of the center-mounted speedometer is an LCD panel to display pertinent driver information. To the right of the instrument cluster is a large color infotainment/navigation screen, set above a sea of buttons for the secondary, audio and climate controls. The rotary knob for the Mercedes-Benz COMAND controller is in its usual position on the center divider between the front seats.

Hardware

The first 2010 E-Class models to arrive in showrooms will feature one of two engine choices: V-6 or V-8. The E350 is equipped with a direct-injection, 3.5-liter V-6 engine rated at 292 horsepower. The range-topping E500 boasts a 5.5-liter V-8 engine rated at 388 horsepower. Both are mated to a standard 7-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission driving the rear wheels. According to Mercedes-Benz, detail improvements to both engines have improved fuel efficiency over their predecessors.

Setting the standards for comfort, the German automaker has fitted the E-Class with a 4-wheel independent suspension with active shock absorbers designed to instantly respond to the driving conditions. These help the driver maintain control while keeping the passengers comfortable on a variety of road surfaces, the company says. An optional air suspension system has been mated with an electronically controlled dampening system to offer the ultimate in ride comfort, Mercedes claims. The air suspension system allows the driver to choose "comfort" or "sport" at the touch of a button. There are several wheel/tire combinations available, including 19-inch light alloy performance wheels and tires.


Safety

As expected, the 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class offers a comprehensive safety package. This includes the use of high-strength steel alloys during manufacturing and the automaker's PRE-SAFE preventative occupant protection system with seven standard air bags. In addition to the standard anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control, and brake assist systems, the new E-Class offers Blind Spot Assist (prompting the driver if another vehicle is in the adjacent lane), Lane Keeping Assist (alerting the driver if the vehicle is inadvertently leaving the lane), and Speed Limit Assist (actively reading speed limit signs for the driver). Night Vision Assist (improving visibility during low-light situations) and Attention Assist (observing the driver for signs of drowsiness behind the wheel) are optional.

While the all-new E-Class has not been tested by the leading domestic crash testing agencies, Mercedes-Benz boasts that its engineering team subjected the new sedan to more than 150 high-speed crash tests and more than 17,000 crash simulations during development. All of these were done to ensure the highest level of occupant protection during real-world collisions, according to the company.

Technology

According to Mercedes-Benz, the all-new 2010 E-Class is the first automobile in the world whose headlamps adapt to the traffic situation and respond automatically to avoid blinding other drivers. The innovative system, called "Adaptive Main Beam Assist," uses a camera mounted on the windscreen to recognize oncoming traffic and the vehicles ahead. The light output from the headlamps is increased or decreased to offer the best possible road illumination for the driving situation. The range of the headlamps may be extended-completely automatically-from 195 feet to upwards of 900 feet, based on conditions. If the road ahead is clear, the headlamps perform a gentle transition to high-beam illumination without driver interaction. The Adaptive Main Beam Assist system includes bi-Xenon headlamps and the LED driving lights.