We’ve previously spotted the next-generation Mercedes E-Class in heavy body cladding on the road, but now the executive saloon has shed some camo and is storming the Nurburgring racetrack. The new model, borrowing design cues from the latest C-Class, is likely to make its debut in early 2016 just before it’s closest competitor, BMW’s next 5-Series.
The now lighter disguise on these track prototypes reveal what looks like a slight increase in size for the E. This marginal growth spurt is down to the new rear-wheel-drive MRA platform, which currently underpins the new C-Class and S-Class. The lightweight architecture should result in improved efficiency and a better driving experience, but allow for additional passenger space.
As you can see, the new saloon’s link with the C-Class and larger S-Class won’t stop at the mechanicals, as svelte new exterior styling is also on the cards.
The previous version was a relatively boxy car, with deliberately angular surfaces, but Mercedes new design language adopts a curvier, sleeker profile and softer details. This can clearly be seen in both the spyshots and our exclusive renderings.
The cabin will also be completely updated, with features such as the floating ‘tablet-style’ infotainment system, plush centre console and digital instrument cluster all likely to be carried over from the latest flagship S-Class.
As with the current E-Class, we can expect an Estate to follow the saloon into showrooms, too, with a Coupé and soft-top Cabriolet also set to join the ranks.
There’ll be significant changes under the bonnet as well. The new running gear will allow Mercedes to offer ultra-efficient plug-in hybrid versions of the E-Class for the first time if it chooses to, but an official announcement has yet to be made. It’s not all about economy, though, as the E63 AMG range-topper will still be offered, featuring the all-new 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and power apporaching 600bhp.
Power could rise to as much as 600bhp – trumping the 552bhp BMW M5 – but we’ll probably have to wait until 2017 before Mercedes pulls the wraps off that one. The brand also plans to more closely align the E-Class and ML-Class, by renaming the SUV as the GLE when the facelifted version goes on sale soon. It follows then that Mercedes’ rival to the BMW X6 will be badged GLE Coupé when it also arrives later this year.
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