As with other recent new Mercedes, the new E-Class sets a record for aerodynamic efficiency in its class with a drag coefficient of 0.23.
Key among the engineering developments is a new platform structure with higher percentages of hot-formed high-strength steel and aluminium. Similar to the structures used by the C-Class and S-Class, it is claimed to bring weight savings of up to 100kg on a model-for-model basis. The front wings, bonnet and bootlid are all made of sheet or cast aluminium.
Engine and transmission
The new E-Class will eventually come with the choice of up to eight engines, although only two units are available at launch. These are the 254bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel in the E350d and an all-new 2.0-litre diesel with 192bhp and 295lb ft in the E220d.
We have driven the entry-level E 220 d, see what we make of it
The latter engine, codenamed OM654 and set to be introduced to other Mercedes-Benz models this year, replaces the reliability-plagued OM651. In the E220d, the new unit is said to provide combined fuel consumption of 72.4mpg and average CO2 emissions of just 102g/km.
Find out what the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class feels like with a 3.5-litre V6 diesel engine
Further petrol engines to follow include a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine with 181bhp and 221lb ft in the E200, a more powerful version of the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit with 242bhp in the E250, a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 with 328bhp in the E400 4Matic and, towards the end of this year, AMG’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 with up to 580bhp in a successor to the E63 AMG.
The diesel line-up will expand to include a base E200d running a detuned version of the new 2.0-litre engine with 148bhp.
Catering to increased demand for zero-emissions capability, Mercedes will introduce a plug-in hybrid model with a claimed electric range of up to 19 miles. Due shortly after the start of E-Class sales in the UK, it uses a developed version of the C350e’s driveline, with a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor within the gearbox. That provides the E350e with outputs of 275bhp and 442lb ft and combined economy of 135mpg, with CO2 emissions of 49g/km.
Does a hybrid version of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class work in the real world, we put the E 350 e on the road to find out
All launch models will come with Mercedes’ 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic gearbox as standard. Alongside standard rear-wheel drive, selected models will offer 4Matic four-wheel drive as an option, but final details are yet to be revealed, as are details of which models will be available with a manual gearbox.
The E-Class is underpinned by an evolution of Mercedes’ modular rear architecture (MRA) platform. A choice of three suspension tunes with variable damping control is planned from the outset: Comfort, Comfort Avantgarde (with a 15mm reduction in ride height) and Sport, which also features a 15mm ride height reduction.
Buyers will be able to option selected E-Class models with new air suspension. The Air Body Control set-up uses Mercedes’ latest multi-chamber air springs, with two chambers for each of the front wheels and three chambers on each of the rear wheels, providing variable stiffness, damping, ride height and self-levelling properties in four modes: Comfort, Eco, Sport and Sport Plus.
Inside, the E-Class receives a thoroughly redesigned cabin. Both roomier and reflecting a higher quality than that of the current E-Class, the new interior combines design cues from both the smaller C-Class and larger S-Class. The highlight is a wide, glass-faced digital panel consisting of two 12.3in monitors.
A further innovation is the adoption of laser-guided touchpads on each of the steering wheel’s horizontal spokes. In combination with a touchpad located between the front seats, plus a rotary dial and speech recognition system, they allow the driver to control the new Comand infotainment system via a simple swipe of the thumb.
The centre console can be ordered with a wireless charging mat for phones and comes with a USB connector for Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto compatibility.
In a bid to improve comfort, Mercedes has developed a new range of seats for the E-Class. They vary in look depending on the equipment line chosen, providing both greater support and a wider range of cushioning than before. Buyers will be able to specify the E-Class with new trim options and colour combinations that will be revealed closer to the on-sale date.
New Mercedes E-Class Estate to rival A6 Allroad
Along with the new E-Class saloon, Mercedes-Benz is preparing a successor to the E-Class Estate, although it isn’t scheduled to be unveiled until the second half of the year.
In a departure from previous incarnations of the executive load hauler, it will be offered in two distinct variants: a traditional on-road model and a so-called All-Terrain version, which will feature raised ride height and a standard 4Matic four-wheel drive system and will provide Mercedes with a rival to the likes of the Audi A6 Allroad.