2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Preview
By Christian Wardlaw, January 11, 2016
- Complete redesign
- E300, E350e plug-in hybrid, and E400 model series
- Luxury and Sport styling lines
- S-Class Jr. interior design and materials
- Significant technology upgrades
- Major safety system improvements
- Expect a Mercedes-AMG E63 version
- On sale in summer of 2016
According to Mercedes-Benz, the redesigned 2017 E-Class “enhances efficiency, safety, and comfort, reduces the stress level while driving, and intensifies driving pleasure.” At the same time, the automaker claims: “the new E-Class takes another major step towards fully autonomous driving.”
Which is it, Mercedes? Is the car going to drive for us, or are we going to enjoy intensified driving pleasure?
Apparently, the answer to both questions is “yes,” qualified by “it depends on the situation.”
Longer in terms of wheelbase and overall length, the new 2017 E-Class adopts design cues from the smaller C-Class and larger S-Class models. The automaker highlights the long hood, abbreviated roofline, broad rear flanks, short overhangs, and large wheels as signature Mercedes-Benz sedan styling cues.
Luxury and Sport styling treatments will be available for the new E-Class, the former equipping the car with a classic chrome grille design and a traditional Mercedes hood ornament while the latter employs a sport grille design with the 3-pointed star embedded into the center of it. Single-piece “stardust-effect” taillights, a Mercedes first, give the E-Class a unique look at night.
Mercedes says it aimed to significantly increase the quality of the E-Class sedan’s interior, from the materials and colors used to the seat designs and comfort levels. Owners can choose from a Crayola box of colors as far as ambient lighting is concerned, and a variety of interior tones, textures, and trims will be available.
As in the larger and more expensive S-Class, an E-Class driver faces a broad, dual-screen, digital instrumentation panel. The section in front of the driver is equipped with a traditional gauge display and the one dominating the center of the dashboard features a 12.3-in. infotainment system display.
A center touchpad controller also operates the infotainment system and includes handwriting-recognition technology. Voice control is accessible with the touch of a button. Fans of traditional switchgear will be happy to operate the climate controls and driver-assistance systems.
Rear-seat occupants receive new tablet computer holders and sit on a seat with a 40/20/40 split-folding backrest. This design allows long items, such as skis, to be carried in the car at the same time as four adults.
Among the many options available for the 2017 E-Class, buyers will be able to select diamond-quilted premium leather, natural grain ash wood trim, and a choice between two Burmeister premium audio systems, including a high-end 3D surround audio system with 23 speakers. A new Warmth and Comfort package adds rapid-heating front seats, heated steering wheel, and heated door and center console armrests.
Under the Hood
At the 2016 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Mercedes announced details for the E300 model. It will have a turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 241 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque, delivered to the rear wheels through a 9-speed automatic transmission. Expect 4Matic all-wheel drive to be an option with this engine.
Two different adaptive damping suspension systems are available for the E300, buyers deciding if they want Comfort or Sport tuning. An optional Air Body Control suspension is also available, employing multi-chamber air suspension at each wheel. It automatically adjusts the car’s ride height, self-levels the car, and nearly eliminates body roll, squat, and dive, according to Mercedes. The driver selects between Comfort, Eco, Sport, and Sport+ suspension settings, or calibrates a mix of ride and handling qualities using the Individual setting.
Additionally, Mercedes showed off at the Detroit Auto Show cars wearing E350e and E400 4Matic nomenclature, which signify models equipped with plug-in hybrid and twin-turbocharged V-6 powertrains, respectively. More details on these, and the expected AMG performance variant, will be available later.
Mercedes takes safety seriously, and equips the 2017 E-Class with a standard drowsy driver monitoring system with adjustable sensitivity, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, active brake assist with cross-traffic response, and automatic emergency braking. So effective are these technologies that Mercedes claims the new E-Class can completely avoid accidents at speeds up to 43 mph.
New for 2017, Pre-Safe Sound technology is also standard, designed to trigger a protective human reflex in the inner ear by emitting a short interference signal through the sound system speakers when the risk of a collision is detected. This aural signal, in turn, prepares the car’s occupants to hear the sound of a collision.
Steering Pilot is also new this year, working at speeds up to 81 mph. It is programmed to steer around both gentle and moderate curves in the road, and can actively intervene in situations where lane markings are non-existent based on the monitoring of surrounding vehicles and parallel structures. Mercedes envisions use of Steering Pilot in heavy traffic and congestion.
Active Lane Change Assist also uses the Steering Pilot technology. If the driver indicates a lane change for at least two seconds, and if the adjacent lane is unoccupied, the Steering Pilot system will steer the E-Class into it in order to overtake slower traffic.
Active lane-keeping and blind-spot assist systems are also available, the latter technology now able to identify the risk of a possible lateral collision into the side of the E-Class. This, in combination with new Pre-Safe Impulse Side technology, which inflates the outer bolster of the seat to move the occupants further toward the middle of the vehicle and away from where the impact is going to occur, could help to reduce injuries and deaths.
New Evasive Steering Assist is also available, designed to give a driver an extra measure of control in sudden emergency driving situations.
In addition to the long list of new safety technologies, the new E-Class is offered with futuristic convenience and communication systems. For example, Remote Parking Pilot is new, and Mercedes says that it allows an E-Class owner, using a smartphone app, to direct the car to autonomously move into and out of a garage or a parking space.
Additionally, the E-Class will be outfitted with what Mercedes describes as a “Car-to-X communication system.” Mercedes characterizes it as a “mobile phone-supported exchange of information with other vehicles on the road.” Mercedes is holding off on further details about this technological magic until closer to the car’s arrival, but it sounds like a step toward integrating the Internet of Things into the driving experience.