The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-class is the result of what we imagine is the most extensive face-lift in the history of the brand. This mid-term make over packs a considerable amount of new technology under significantly restyled sedan and wagon bodies. But a nip and tuck as extreme as anything seen in any plastic surgeon’s office wasn’t unwarranted given the number of redesigned competitors in the mid-size luxury-sedan segment. The Audi A6, the BMW 5-series, and the Lexus GS all are still quite fresh, and the next-gen Cadillac CTS—larger and more upscale than ever—will be here before you know it.
The engine lineup of the E-class has been significantly overhauled, but only a fraction of those mills will be offered in the U.S., where the global 2.0-liter turbo four of the E200 and E250 will not be available. Eventually, we believe base duties in America will be handled by the 248-hp, naturally aspirated direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6 in a new-to-the-U.S. E300. For now, though, that same engine will be tuned to deliver 302 hp for duty in the E350, which will again be available with rear- or 4MATIC all-wheel drive and in both body styles. The E400 hybrid sedan pairs the 3.5-liter six with a 27-hp, 184-lb-ft electric motor to deliver an estimated 24 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Benz will continue to offer the 402-hp, twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V-8 in the four-door E550, which will again be exclusively all-wheel drive.Topping the E lineup will be the significantly revised E63 AMG, with its updated 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 producing 550 hp and 531 lb-ft of torque and feeding all four wheels; we recently got a ride in a prototype, and you can read much more about the car here. There will again be an E63 AMG wagon, which is of course awesome. On the compression-ignition front, the E350 BlueTec will be supplanted the new-for-2014 E250, available with 4MATIC. The E250’s diesel four-cylinder will deliver 190 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, not far off the 210 hp and 400 lb-ft of the six-pot diesel it will replace. All powertrains will feature stop-start capability.A seven-speed automatic will be standard fare across the E-class board. The interior is beautifully equipped, with lavish-looking seats, a new steering wheel, and wood or aluminum decor that now stretches along the entire dashboard. One highlight is a center-mounted analog clock that recalls art-deco style.The new E also will preview the next S-class, as it will debut a number of gadgets and active- and passive safety systems that will trickle up to Mercedes’ flagship sedan. (Here’s a rundown on the next S’s technology array.) An optional stereoscopic camera mounted in the windshield offers forward visibility of up to 550 yards. Within 50 yards, the camera can recognize three-dimensional shapes and movement. That data, in concert with the car’s radar systems, is fed into the car’s collision-mitigation system. Radar also is used in the car’s active cruise control, which can now be used in a semi-autonomous fashion in stop-and-go traffic, including automatic lane-keeping. The brake-assist system, when cross traffic or pedestrians are detected, will now increase brake pressure to avoid hitting them. Pre-Safe Plus will cinch the seatbelts and apply more brake pressure in the event of a rear-end collision, reducing the possibility of serious injury and helping to avoid sliding into a car or object to the front. These systems—as well as a few others—may not be entirely likeable to many, but they’re certainly impressive, underscoring Benz’s claim to make some of the safest and most technologically advanced cars on the road.The design team under Gordon Wagener has done away with the Ponton-inspired rear fenders, which were launched with much fanfare almost four years ago. But the biggest changes feature at the front end. For the first time since the W12
4 E-class went out of production in 1995, Mercedes returns to a single, if complex, headlamp shape. The four-eye look is now merely hinted at by the car’s LED daytime running lights. Two trims, Luxury and Sport, will be immediately recognizable just by checking the resculpted hood: The former will retain the three-pointed star ornament, while the latter ditches it in favor of a more aggressive grille-and-logo treatment. Sport models will also sit slightly lower than their more comfort-oriented counterparts.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-class will make its in-the-metal debut at the 2013 Detroit auto show in just a few weeks’ time; the E350 and E550 are slated to hit showroom floors in the spring, the diesel E250 in the fall. Timing for the hybrid is unannounced and the E63 will go on sale next summer. While the E-class never felt outdated, even in the face of a rapidly improving segment, its extensive face lift certainly will do Mercedes no harm in fighting off its bread-and-butter’s adversaries new and old.