All the details on Merc's next big executive saloon
14 April 2008

These are the latest spy photographs of Mercedes-Benz’s all-new E-class, undergoing durability testing at the Nurburgring with only minimal disguise prior to its debut at the 2009 Geneva motor show.Set for UK sale around this time next year, Stuttgart’s new upmarket saloon, known to Mercedes insiders by its W212 development code, has been thoroughly redesigned as part of the CORE program instigated by Mercedes-Benz chairman, Dieter Zetsche, that aims to see future models focus on the German car maker’s strengths of technology, safety and quality. Clearly apparent on this prototype is the E-class’s distinctive new styling treatment. Like the new C-class it looks far more athletic than the model it replaces, adopting taut body surfacing and a distinctive new headlamp treatment. These ditch the rounded theme used on the previous two generations for a more modern, integrated look – albeit sticking with Merc’s trademark four elements.Unlike the C-class, which is offered in two guises with differing grille treatments depending on the trim level, all E-class models will retain the same common front-end appearance. The saloon seen here will be followed around six months later by an estate (development code S212), which will be in UK showrooms in the last quarter of 2009.The new car has grown; it’s now 70mm longer at 4950mm, according to a Mercedes insider. The increased dimensions are intended to improve both occupant safety, with bigger crumple zones, and also to boost space for rear-seat occupants. Boot capacity has gone up slightly as well, to 550 litres in the saloon and 710 litres in the estate.On the engine front the new E-class is set to benefit from several new and revised powerplants. The base petrol motor will continue to be the 163bhp, 1.8-litre, four-pot motor from the current car, badged as ‘200 Kompressor’, but this engine will be replaced in 2010 by an all-new unit that uses sequential turbocharging and direct injection in place of a supercharger. Three four-cylinder diesel motors will be available, all sharing an identical 2.1-litre capacity and coming in 134bhp, 168bhp and 204bhp guises, badged as E200 CDI, E220 CDI and E250 CDI respectively. Further up the line-up will be three petrol V6 motors, the E230 (2.5 litres, 204bhp), E280 (3.0 litres, 231bhp) and E350 CGI (3.5 litres, 292bhp). A 3.0-litre, V6 CDI diesel will be offered in two states of tune: E300 CDI (190-bhp) and E320 CDI (224bhp). A more powerful, twin-turbocharged version of the V6 diesel will follow later, replacing the heavy, expensive 4.0-litre, V8 CDI of the current model, which has never been available in the UK. This will have around 270bhp and will give Mercedes a direct rival to the BMW 535d.At the top of the ‘standard’ line-up are two V8 engines, likely to be of peripheral interest in the UK, with the E450 (4.6 litres, 340bhp) and E500 (5.5 litres, 388bhp). They are seen as a stop-gap measure until the arrival of new, cleaner versions that will feature turbocharging and direct injection, and which are scheduled to arrive in 2011. The range-topping E63 AMG is set to make its debut at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, with 525bhp on tap from a slightly tuned version of the current car’s 6.2-litre V8. Also planned, though not likely to go on sale in the UK until late 2010, is a new E300 hybrid model. Previewed at last year’s Frankfurt motor show, it mates Mercedes-Benz’s new 2.1-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine to an electric motor to provide a combined 224bhp and 413lb ft of torque, along with combined fuel economy of 55.4mpg and a CO2 rating that insiders put at just 135g/km.The E-class sits on an entirely new platform, with lower-end models getting steel springs and top-spec versions having air suspension similar in principle to that on the current S-class. Early plans to equip the E-class with the S-class’s ‘ABC’ active suspension system have been abandoned, however, due to the cost and complexity of upgrading the new car’s electronics to deal with it. Insiders say that the new E’s electronic architecture is largely shared with the smaller C-class. As with the current generation, ‘4Matic’ four-wheel-drive versions will be offered in Europe and America, but probably not in the UK. In a bid to re-establish itself as a leader in technology in its class, Mercedes-Benz is also planning to provide next year’s E-class with all of the high-end features available on the larger S-class as well as some all new ones, many of which will count towards making it one of the safest cars in the world. Included among an extensive list of options will be a second-generation version of the German car maker’s night-vision system, together with a new fatigue-detecting device called Attention Assist, lane departure warning and the latest hard disc-based NTG4 navigation system and an all-new entertainment system from long-time partner Harman/Becker.

Greg Kable

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The E-class more than lives up to traditional Mercedes values

The E-Class is a refined and relaxing return to old Mercedes qualities

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14 April 2008

Yuck... what's with the "raised eyebrow" looks with those SL-styled headlights? Looks awful on the new SL... pretty bad here too. The rest of the car looks like a bloated C.

15 April 2008

Doubt I'd ever buy an E-Class but I love them. Solid, handsome and high quality throughout. And in a Boxster S you have trouble keeping up with these magnificant machines on the autobahn - they pull like a train in the 3 digit numbers!

I note not only the 4cyl engine ranges model signatures being 'disjointed' from the cubic capacity, aka BMW started a few years back, as they're all variants on the same 2.2ltr engine now. But also the twin turbocharged 6cyls. How very BMW!

15 April 2008

Like JJBoxster above, I've always liked the E-Class although I've never owned one or am likely to (much bigger than I need as a single bloke). An old boss of mine had one of the pre-twin-headlamp ones and it was built like a tank, went really well and was just so comfortable. I was reminded of it when on holiday in Paris recently; we grabbed a taxi at the Gare du Nord to get to the hotel and it was an old-style E-class in immaculate condition, driven by a very jolly Frenchman of (I guess) North African descent who was obviouly very proud of his car. The seats were sumptuous soft leather, the engine was almost inaudible and it wafted along in the heavy traffic with a soft compliant ride that was more big old Citroen than what you'd expect of a German car. The driver told us his car had done over 300,000 kilometres and that he wouldn't change it for a newer one as they were "sheet" !! His English was good enough to understand what he really meant. If Mercedes can make this new one like that old taxi I might even consider buying one when they get to three years older or more.

Enjoying a Fabia VRs - affordable performance

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