What is it?
The Mercedes E-class as you know it – but with an extra 140mm of wheelbase, in an effort to seize market share in the only country where it will be sold, China.
Long wheelbase cars are big business in China, and Mercedes is entering the market to battle with BMW (extended 5-series) and Audi (extended A6) to capture buyers seeking the exclusivity of a stretched car built by a European prestige manufacturer.
Underlining just how seriously Mercedes is taking this car is the fact that it began working on it 47 months before its launch – and just 15 months into the development cycle of the standard E-class. It is the first time Mercedes has developed a model for a single country – although there is a possibility it will be sold in other Eastern Asian countries at a later date.
The car will be built at Mercedes’s Chinese JV plant in Beijing and goes on sale this month. It will sell alongside the standard E-class, which is imported into China and has sold well itself in the first quarter of 2010.