Mercedes-Benz is on a mission to become the best luxury car maker in the world. When it comes to traditional luxury, there has never really been a competitor to Mercedes-Benz. BMWs were typically sportier and less luxurious than Mercs and Audis were almost as luxurious, but in a more high-tech sort of way. Mercedes-Benz has always done traditional luxury better than anyone. This new E Class seems to be no different.
We’ve seen some spy shots of the upcoming E Class and we’ve heard some details about its powertrain and specs. However, we haven’t really seen the interior, the area that matters most in a luxury car, until now. Mercedes-Benz has given us a teaser trailer and some pictures of the interior and it seems quite remarkable.
First thing’s first, when you look at the interior of the E Class, you see a replica of its bigger brother, the S Class. This isn’t by accident, as Mercedes-Benz is trying to replicate the S Class’ immensely luxurious cabin and trickle its luxury and technology down the line. Hell, even the new C Class looks like a baby-S Class on the inside and out. So the E Class’ imitation of the S Class is no accident.
That’s not to say that it’s bad. Quite the contrary, actually, as it’s unbelievably beautiful. The way the trim wraps around the dash and makes its way onto the doors and throughout the rest of the cabin is a thing of beauty. The way that the dashboard seamlessly wraps around the twin LCD screens and the magnificent attention to detail to every last detail, like the perfect stitching in the leather or the incredibly high-quality switchgear throughout the cabin. Even the Burmester speaker grilles are milled from aluminum. It’s just a fantastic cabin to spend some time in.
Then there’s the seats. I’m debating asking Mercedes-Benz if I can buy a couple to replace my living room couch, they’re that fantastic looking. I’m told they’re fantastically comfortable as well, offering loads of support while also being immensely luxurious.
But don’t think that the new E Class is all leather and wood, like an English Gentleman’s study. Not a chance. Being typically German, there’s enough technology in the new E Class to make the Mars Rover seem like a Hotwheels car. The, E Class’ dash is dominated by two massive LCD screens, one of the gauge cluster and one for the infotainment system. These screens are exactly as you’d see them in an S Class, except I think they’re better integrated here, as if MB needed some time to get it right.
The screen on the left, the gauge cluster screen, can switch between three different themes of gauges. The standard theme, called Classic, is a simply two dial screen showing a speedometer and tachometer with some useful information in between. A Sport theme keeps those same dials, but turns the numbers and markers yellow with red needles, which looks just like what old-school Mercs had. However, the new one is called the Progressive gauge. This turns the two gauges into one circular tachometer dial with a digital speedometer inside of it. The Progressive gauge is also flanked by two boxes filled with all sorts of information that can be customized to the driver’s liking. Of all of these settings, Sport seems to be my personal favorite, as it reminds me of older Mercedes’.
There will also be a suite of autonomous driving functions, which is starting to become the norm on high-end cars. Except Mercedes-Benz has a new trick up its sleeve. The new E Class can drive fully autonomously at speeds up to 120 mph, and only needs clear lane markings after 60 mph. It can also perform its own lane changes at the driver’s request via turn-signal stalk and can ever make turns. However, the driver must touch one of the touch-sensitive pads on the steering wheel at least every other minute or the E Class will come to a safe stop on its own. So drivers will not be allowed to get into the back seat and let the car drive on its own, like Tesla’s Autopilot. Mercedes-Benz also has no desire to allow that to happen and was not amused by Tesla owners and their silly videos.
Those aforementioned touch-sensitive pads also control almost all of the E Class’ menu options and screens. Both pads are located at the thumb positions on the steering wheel and both have redundant buttons surrounding them, for back, Home and more. This allows drivers to flip through menu screens and change navigation settings without ever taking their hands off of the wheel. It’s a fantastic idea and one that should be making its way into other Mercedes products and maybe even other brands’ products.
This new Mercedes-Benz E Class looks like it could be very hard to beat when it finally debuts at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show. Audi is in the process of developing a new A6, but it’s still a long ways off. The current A6 is still an excellent vehicle though, recently making Car and Driver’s 10Best list for the second year in a row. However, Audi better get cracking on the new one because the new E Class looks like it pushed the ball forward.