With the most dramatically changed face since its adoption of circular headlights 15 years ago, Mercedes-Benz's redesigned E-Class sedan boasts a long list of new safety technologies and luxury features. Once all variants hit the showroom, the E-Class will be available with four engines, rear- or all-wheel drive, three suspensions and two luxury orientations.
Major variants include the V-6 E350 and the V-8 E550. All-wheel-drive 4Matic versions of all three will be available before the end of 2009, as will be a high-performance E63 AMG. Expect an E-Class wagon to arrive as well. In 2010, Mercedes will build an E350 Bluetec with a high-mileage diesel engine.
Competitors include the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and Infiniti M.
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Though it retains certain basics — namely the quad headlights, lined-and-split grille and hood ornament — the new E-Class charts as radical a departure from its predecessor as Mercedes' entry-level C-Class did two years ago. The headlights have slot-like inboard bezels not unlike Lexus' competing GS sedan, while the outboard portions resemble those on the C-Class. Eyebrow-like fog lights sit in the three-piece lower air dam. In comparison, the taillights seem much more reserved.
Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are standard. The E350 has oval exhaust pipes; a Sport package adds 18-inch wheels and trapezoidal pipes, among other things. Trapezoidal pipes come standard on the E550. Mercedes says the car's aerodynamics, with a drag coefficient 4 percent better than the old E-Class, trump all other luxury sedans in the world.
The dashboard's layout mirrors that of Mercedes' GLK SUV, with an attached housing connecting the gauges to a center information display. Mercedes' knob-based Comand interface includes primary controls at hip level, ahead of the center armrest, like the systems in the C-Class and flagship S-Class.
Uplevel options include massaging, bolster-adjustable seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped dash and a panoramic moonroof. Mercedes says the new car's trunk is roughly the same size as its predecessor's — an impressive 15.9 cubic feet, which ties the A6 and beats the 5 Series, M and most other contenders. Optional folding rear seats no longer require you to flip the cushions forward first, a necessary step in the previous E-Class.
Under the Hood
The E350 carries a 268-horsepower V-6, while the E550 has a 382-hp V-8; both engines carry over from last year. Rear-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional. Mercedes' E63 AMG uses a larger 507-hp V-8. In 2010, expect a diesel-powered E350 Bluetec to deliver the lineup's best gas mileage.
All four engines use a seven-speed automatic transmission. Last year's floor-mounted shifter has been replaced with a column shifter, much like in the S-Class and several Mercedes SUVs.
The standard adaptive suspension alters shock-absorber settings to react to changing road conditions. A sport-tuned version with more dynamic settings is optional. All-wheel-drive models include Mercedes' Airmatic air suspension with driver-adjustable comfort and sport settings.
Besides antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system, the E-Class has nine standard airbags. Mercedes' Pre-Safe system, also standard, cinches up seat belts, repositions seats and attempts to close the windows and moonroof if it senses an imminent accident. A standard Attention Assist system measures steering behavior and other parameters to intuit driver fatigue. If it does, it emits audible and visual warnings.
Optional automatic high-beam headlights can vary their angle to illuminate 220 to 984 feet of pavement, depending on whether an onboard camera senses any cars ahead. Other options include blind-spot and lane departure warning systems, night vision assist with specific provisions to highlight pedestrians, and automatic emergency braking if forward radar detects an unheeded obstruction.
Hot on the heels of Mercedes' launch of its new E-Class sedan, the automaker's high-performance division, AMG, has produced its own variant of the midsize luxury sedan. Dubbed E63 AMG, it features a high-powered V-8 engine, chassis modifications and revised styling inside and out. It hits dealerships in fall 2009.
The E63 AMG is powered by a 6.3-liter V-8 engine that produces 518 hp and 465 pounds-feet of torque. The V-8 teams with a seven-speed automatic transmission, and Mercedes says the sedan can sprint from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155 mph.
The sport sedan features an adaptive suspension called AMG Ride Control. The suspension uses front steel springs and rear air springs, and the dampers are varied automatically based on the driving situation. The suspension also includes three modes — Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus — to suit the driver's preference. Additional changes include a quicker steering ratio and an AMG brake kit.
Exterior styling changes include wider front fenders, more aggressive front and rear aprons, larger rocker panels, tinted headlights, unique chrome tailpipes and 18-inch alloy wheels. Cabin enhancements include AMG sport seats, a sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, an AMG-specific instrument panel and stainless steel pedals. Attention Assist, a system designed to tell when the driver is tired, is standard.
The optional AMG Performance Package increases the top speed to 186 mph and equips the car with a firmer suspension, a locking rear differential, a three-spoke steering wheel and 19-inch rims. Back to top
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