This is the car Mercedes-Benz believes will make you forget the BMW 5 Series and ignore the Audi A6. Making its debut at the NAIAS, the 2017 E-Class is a complete redesign for the 10th-generation, scaling up the on-road presence while boosting safety and luxury, and raiding the self-driving technologies previously only found on Mercedes’ flagship.
On the outside, there are clear hints of S-Class to the 2017 E-Class’ design. The bigger sedan has donated its smooth curves and dominating presence, helped by an increase in size over the outgoing car.
Overall length is up 1.7-inches, but more importantly the wheelbase has increased 2.6-inches, meaning more interior space. Two versions – Luxury and Sport – will be offered, the most noticeable aesthetic change being the traditional grille and hood-mounted Mercedes star on the Luxury, and a grille-mounted logo and more sporting vents on the Sport.
Inside, as we previewed last year, the new E-Class raises its game in fit, finish, and technology. Leather sits alongside aluminum and natural-grain ash wood, and there’s a 64-color ambient LED lighting system.
The seats can be optionally specified with a Warmth and Comfort package, which stretches the heating elements to include the door armrests and center console, along with the steering wheel. In the back, the bench splits 40/20/40, and there’s an optional tablet holder.
Two Burmester sound systems are available, both as options, with the top-spec model getting 23 speakers and 3D sound.
So far, Mercedes has only detailed the initial launch engine, and unusually it’s not a V6. The next-gen E-Class will have a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, in fact, mustering 241 HP and 273 lb-ft of torque and paired with a 9G-TRONIC nine-speed auto transmission. Further down the line, other engine options will be offered.
Steel-spring suspension is standard, with comfort and sport settings, but air suspension is an option with multi-chambers at each corner, a segment first. Self-leveling, each wheel gets three settings for how firmly the car responds to twistier roads, while ride height is automatically adjusted based on driving speed and style, or according to one of four modes: Comfort, ECO, Sport, and Sport+.
The biggest donations from the S-Class, however, might be the driver-assistance technologies. The 2017 E-Class will have a deep bag of the stuff installed as standard, ranging from the familiar – like active brake assist, attention assist, and crosswind assist – through to more unusual fare, like PRE-SAFE Sound which promises to trigger an instinctive corrective reflex with a cabin sound if a collision risk is detected.
Options include Drive Pilot, which can follow traffic autonomously at speeds of up to 130 mph, helping with steering through corners, and automatically changing lanes.
Like the Summon feature added to Tesla’s Model S and Model X over the weekend, the E-Class will eventually be available with Remote Parking Pilot, allowing the car to be moved in and out of garages and parking spaces via a smartphone. Car-to-X communication will be able to feed and receive road details like accidents, inclement weather, black ice, or other dangers to fellow E-Class cars, meanwhile, though not on US cars at launch.
NOW READ: 2017 E-Class interior hands-on
In short, it’s much of what made the S-Class special, but distilled down for a far larger audience.
Mercedes-Benz hasn’t confirmed US pricing at this stage, but it’ll be a fair degree more affordable than the uber-sedan, despite featuring the high-tech safety and automated driving abilities.