The E-class gets a facelift from bonnet to boot
Earlier than would normally be expected comes a new version of the brand’s big seller
Fuel:Petrol and diesel
Date Reviewed:May 25, 2013
ROAD TEST: The usual facelift involves a new grille, new head and tail lights, maybe for some a new engine or gearbox and, at most, a bonnet. And, in a seven-year life cycle, they usually arrive just before the five-year mark.
Mercedes begs to differ with the new E-Class. Earlier than would normally be expected comes a new version of the brand’s big seller, partly driven by the challenge presented by big sales rivals – BMW’s 5 Series and the Audi A6.
Within 15 months of the E-Class’s unveiling in 2009, work on this new model was already well under way. It’s not exactly a rush job, but it comes a year or so earlier than we might have expected.
That’s understandable given the fast pace of technological advances and the need to defend market share against premium rivals. After all, even in little Ireland, the E-Class represents 50 per cent of Mercedes’s sales, so its popularity is vital to the brand, particularly in what is panning out to be a dismal year for new car sales.
And it’s no minor tweak. It carries the same roof as the outgoing E-Class, but that’s it for the sheet metal. Every other panel has been changed, smoothed out and given cleaner, more coherent surfacing. And there’s now the choice of two faces: a sporty one and the traditional three-pointed one on the bonnet. Classic and Elegance variants feature the usual three-pointed star on the bonnet, while Avantgarde gets a more CLS look, with the famous logo incorporated into the grille.
This dual format has been used to good effect on the C-Class range. The changes also encompass greater flexibility in terms of specification, so owners can opt for the Classic style on the outside but the more modern Avantgarde interior.
There is more of the same semi-urgent revisionist work inside, with the biggest changes being an interior that takes its cues from the recently revamped CLS and the upcoming S-Class. A host of new technology also makes its debut in the E-Class. Features such as the Pre-Safe Plus package that includes steering assist – which effectively steers the car and keeps it in lane – were pencilled in for the new S-Class but brought to launch in the E-Class first. The range of sensors available on the new car is impressive and stretches 200m in front of the car in the case of the on-board radar.
Then there’s the intelligent LED headlights that use radar and stereo cameras to detect oncoming cars and let you stay on high beam while blanking out a section of light around them. The same system also identifies errant walkers and flashes light specifically on them. It’s clever stuff.