The first official pictures of the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class have been leaked a week ahead of its debut at the Detroit motor show – and they show an executive set of wheels that will continue to strengthen the carmaker’s stakes in New Zealand.
Mercedes-Benz finished 2015 as the premium segment leader in NZ, heading BMW and Audi for the first time since the three Germans set up official outlets here roughly 30 years ago.
“We went from third place to first, bypassing second – and we did it without a medium SUV,” said Mercedes-Benz NZ general manager Ben Giffin. The medium SUV was the GLC, which arrived late in the year as a rival to the BMW X3, Audi Q5, and Lexus NX.
The seventh-generation E-Class will land in NZ around August-September this year as one of 11 new or upgraded models Mercedes-Benz will deliver in 2016. Last year it delivered 12 such models.
The current E-Class is one of the oldest models in the Mercedes-Benz range – but the new one promises to leapfrog the usual generational changes to become the most technologically advanced model it has ever built.
So what will the sedan bring to NZ this year? The estate, coupe and convertible will complete the line-up through into 2017, followed later by a go-fast E63 AMG variant. Here is some of the stuff we know – more will come to hand at Detroit next week.
• E-Class will be longer, wider and lighter than the current model, thanks to use of the same MRA architecture as the S-Class. The drag coefficient is likely to be a low 0.23.
• Expect the next step towards autonomous driving. High-tech gizmos will create a constant digital image of the car’s surroundings – road signs and markings and other traffic.
• Car-to-X communication will enable vehicles on the same road to warn each other of upcoming potential hazards or accidents.
• If a side collision is detected, the car’s safety systems will instantly inflate the side bolster to move the occupant away from the point of impact. At the same time, the sound system pumps noise waves through the speakers to reduce hearing damage following a collision.
• New four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines will be offered. An E350e plug-in hybrid, with a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and an electric motor, will join the range in 2017.