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2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class First Look Review: Another Leap Forward

First Look / Comments

It is basically a smaller variant of the S-Class.

Mercedes finally took the wraps off the 2017 E-Class at the North American International Auto Show. Codenamed W213, the updated E-Class uses a continuation of its predecessor's name and to many looks the part of a miniaturized and enlarged version of the S-Class and C-Class. The tenth generation E-Class certainly attempts to separate itself from the W212 predecessor.

The wheelbase has been extended by 2.6-inches resulting in a 1.7-inch increase in length, while aerodynamics have been refined providing a 0.23 drag-coefficient. The E-Class follows suit of its familial roots presenting a coupe-esque roofline that melds into a "broad-shouldered" rear deck, smaller overhangs, and elongated hood to further accentuate the design. Mercedes identifies this design language as "Sensual Purity," and given the angular W212 the design aesthetic is certainly an upgrade. The new design gives Mercedes a unified look across its lineup. The E-Class also receives a highly stylized interior borrowed straight from the flagship S-Class.

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Modern Mercedes interior accouterments adorn the cabin. The 12.3-inch touch-screen presents a tech-savvy appearance to the interior's ambiance which features the option of 64 different colors of LED mood lighting. The infotainment system provides touchpad control that can recognize handwriting while touch sensitive buttons on the wheel are now capable of responding to horizontal or vertical swiping motions. Designed similarly to that of a smartphone, the idea allows the driver to never remove their hands from the wheel while having full access and control of the infotainment system.

At launch the E-Class will feature a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder delivering 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque; this same engine is featured in the SLC300 and GLC300. Power is routed through a nine-speed transmission that is currently used in the SL, CLS, and GLC. Mercedes has yet to confirm other engine and powertrains as of yet, but expect a variant of the twin-turbo V6 and eventually a twin-turbo V8 in the AMG model. We expect the AMG to carry the 4.0-liter "Hot-V" M177 engine found in the current AMG C63 over the outgoing 5.5-liter twin-turbo M157. Likely an S variant with AMG tuned 4-Matic AWD will be available. It is unknown however if AMG will offer a RWD variant though we expect they will.

Autonomy and safety appear as the largest advances and highlights for the mid-level Merc. These systems seem more inclined toward the reality of self-driving cars and Mercedes-Benz's direct response to such advances having autonomy and safety features trickling down from the technology abundant S-Class. Pre-Safe Sound invokes the cars audio system to alert the driver of the possibility of collision, while Active Brake Assist monitors pedestrians or applies the necessary brake pressure needed to bring the car to full stop. Both of these features are included as standard and can be seen on other competing vehicles. Drive Pilot is the most notable feature, essentially it expands on the idea of adaptive cruise control tenfold.

The system follows and monitors traffic at up to 130 mph; the car can essentially drive itself when this system combines with Steering Pilot Assist. The E-Class will also offer a world first Car-to-X communication system, enabling the E-Class to communicate with traffic infrastructure for improved safety. What appears evident is Mercedes has taken the incursion of the Volvo S90 to heart. The autonomous aspects and constant communication features reveal that Stuttgart is not afraid to exchange blows with the minds in Silicon Valley regarding autonomous vehicles.

This will be a vehicle that will follow suit of its predecessors - it will sell well in all markets. The most potent factor is the amount of radar and self-driving capacity Mercedes has installed. It would appear that the Teutonic titan is already expanding its infrastructure to enable autonomy among its vehicles.