GONE UNDER THE KNIFE: The Mercedes E-Class returns to us a little sleeker, perkier and with a few more features than its predecessor.
Mercedes has comprehensively modernised the E-Class with less thirsty engines, new assistance systems and a sharpened design.
Part of this make-over includes improved comfort and safety features which list vehicle accident prevention and better pedestrian safety as some of its key features, a collection Mercedes-Benz refers to as ‘intelligent drive’.
The latest E-Class also shows a new front-end design with the most noticeable change being the new single-unit headlights. Also, for the first time on the E-Class, full diode lights will be available as an option.
The car sports a redesigned bonnet and front bumper within its new proportions, with a new feature line (from the rear door to the tail light).
The rear diode lights and the bumper have undergone some changes, too.
The interior of the new E-Class has modestly reworked. A two-part trim stretching across the dashboard that has – depending on the trim level – been finished in wood or aluminium being the most noticeable addition to the interior roster.
Also new is the three-tube instrument cluster, the high-gloss frame display for the audio unit, and the design of the air vents and analogue clock.
Many of the technical advances in the new E-Class will also be seen on the next S-Class coming in 2013.
In terms of safety, Mercedes-Benz’s Pre-Safe system has evolved into “intelligent drive” incorporating sensors and algorithms, such as the Stereo Multi-purpose Camera between the rear view mirror and the windscreen with two 'eyes’ scanning the road ahead, to make the journey safer.
The camera, for example, provides data of the approaching environment that is then subjected to algorithms used to evaluate the 3D images and classify their movements to establish whether they are people or vehicles, and to spot a variety of traffic signs.
Collision prevention, attention, parking and lane-keeping functions join a number of additional safety features also included in the new E.
A range of petrol and BlueEfficiency turbodiesel engines will again be available, along with two new transmissions: a six-speed manual and Merc’s 7G-Tronic Plus with Direct Select. An M mode is new on the auto and, if the driver has shifted up or down manually, the transmission switches back to fuel-efficient automatic.
Four suspension configurations will be available, among them Direct Control with selective damping and standard or sporty settings, a lower, sports suspension on models fitted with the AMG Sports Package, and an Airmatic air suspension for the E-Class Estate.