“All Mercedes cars should have a glamour factor when you pull up, and this has it,” said Wagener.
Wagener also promised a whole range of new E-Class models, which would follow the templates of the C-Class and S-Class families, so expect a sleek estate, dramatic coupé and cabriolet and a sporty E63 AMG model. Wagener said prototype versions of the E63 should be ready next summer.
The front end has remained covered on the latest test mules, but the styling appears to be consistent with that of the C-Class and the last facelift of the E-Class, with large slanted headlights and a wide, three-bar grille.
However, Mercedes is expected to follow the same format as other recent models and offer two front-end treatments, so a traditional chrome grille will be available alongside a more sporting blade grille. Sources suggest the aerodynamics have been refined so that the drag coefficient has improved from 0.25 to a class-leading 0.23.
The new-generation model, codenamed W213, adopts Mercedes’ modular MRA platform, as used by the latest C-Class and S-Class models. Insiders confirm it will once again grow in size, to about 4950mm long and 1940mm wide. The estate variant, offering a similar 695-litre luggage capacity to its predecessor, is due to go on sale towards the end of 2016. The increased use of high-strength steel and aluminium is claimed to make both versions up to 100kg lighter than today’s.
New generation of engines
The E-Class will have a new generation of four-cylinder diesel engines, codenamed OM654, alongside existing four-cylinder petrol units. The new 2.0-litre diesel is expected to be offered in two states of tune.
Mercedes will extend the line-up during 2016 with a new generation of 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesels. New six-pot petrol engines are also planned.
The new six-cylinder petrol engine (codenamed M256) and diesel engine (codenamed OM656) are undergoing pilot production at the company’s factory in Unterturkheim, near Stuttgart in Germany.
They share elements of their architecture with Mercedes' existing four-cylinder petrol engine, the M274, including their 90mm bore centre spacing and 500cc individual cylinder volume.
All three units form part of a new modular engine family that, sources say, also include a three-cylinder petrol engine and a new generation four-cylinder diesel (codenamed OM654).
The three-cylinder petrol is scheduled to be offered in future generations of the A-Class, B-Class, CLA, GLA and possibly other front-wheel drive models in combination with an electric motor.
The new four-cylinder diesel, which replaces the OM651 unit in use today, gains the latest in piezo-guided direct injection. It is planned to be used across the Mercedes line-up in models ranging from the A-Class to the S-Class. Both engines are considered crucial to the German car maker’s efforts to meet the 95g/km fleet average CO2 emissions regulation due to come into force in 2020.