The pieces of the puzzle are beginning to come together, revealing what we can expect from the all-new seventh-generation Mercedes E-Class. To be launched in spring next year following a world debut at the Detroit Motor Show in January, the BMW 5 Series rivaling E-Class saloon and estate models will become the most technologically advanced cars Mercedes has ever produced.
The launch of the new E-Class will see Mercedes move a step closer to autonomous driving, with nine all-new or comprehensibly updated driver assistance systems to feature on the newcomer. The car will take many of the featres seen in the latest S-Class and take them on to a new level.
Mercedes E-Class: Intelligent Drive
A labyrinth of next-generation sensors, cameras and radars has allowed Mercedes to take the next step in automated driving. There may be fewer sensors and cameras than before – 12 and four respectively over the current model – but they all feature increased functionality which reduces cost and complexity.
The next level of Intelligent Drive featured on the new E-Class enables the car to negotiate bends on the motorway, while maintaining a safe distance from slower moving vehicles in front at up to speeds of 124mph. The system is not a hands free operation and an audible alert will prompt the driver into regaining control if the car detects their attention has wandered.
Meanwhile, at higher speeds the Steering Pilot function uses visible road markings to navigate bends at speeds of up to 80mph. The car is able scan the surrounding area as well as the car in front if road markings are unclear to maintain lane discipline.
The system is also able to automatically increase or decrease the E-Class’s speed by reading speed limit signs if the driver fails to take any action.
Mercedes E-Class 2016: Accident Prevention safety tech
Active Brake Assist and Evasive Steering Assist work in tandem to warn of and prevent potential collisions in the new E-Class. The first system now features increased functionality, able to provide visible warning of potential danger as well as being able to automatically apply the brakes in an emergency. The system is now also able to detect and analyze moving traffic at junctions ahead.
Evasive Steering Assist can detect when a driver is making an evasive action and apply addition steering force to ensure the pedestrian or vehicle is avoided.
Car-to-X Communication is another safety system which enables vehicles on the same road to warn each other of upcoming potential hazards or accidents.
Mercedes E-Class: Remote Parking Pilot
Smartphones will play an increasingly important role with the new Mercedes E-Class. A brand new remote parking smartphone app will allow drivers to park their vehicle from outside of the car to allow for easier ingress and egress. The system only works at very low speeds of 2mph, with the vehicle also able to lock, unlock and start itself from the app.
Another new smartphone feature is Digital Car Key, which allows the driver’s smartphone to be used as a vehicle key – essentially replacing a conventional key fob. The system uses Near Field Communication which also allows the car to be locked and unlocked even if the phone is out of battery. The system is expected to be a boon for the rental car market.
Mercedes E-Class: PRE-SAFE technology
If an unavoidable side collision is detected, PRE-SAFE Impulse Side rapidly inflates the side bolster to move the occupant away from the point of impact, while at the same time PRE-SAFE Sound pumps noise waves through the speakers to reduce hearing damage following a collision.
Mercedes E-Class: design
The light disguise on these Mercedes E-Class track prototypes reveals what looks like a slight increase in size for the E-Class. 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 spy shots 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, with a Coupé and soft-top Cabriolet also set to join the ranks.
Mercedes E-Class 2016: engines
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.
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 model. The brand has also more closely aligned the E-Class and ML-Class, by renaming the SUV as the GLE when the facelifted version went on sale soon. And Mercedes’ rival to the BMW X6 is now badged GLE Coupe.
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