2014 Mercedes E-Class Sedan first drive
The 2014 E-Class takes us another step closer to the self-driving automobile
Barcelona, Spain — Long before it even was called the E-Class, the midsize Mercedes sedan was always the mother lode of Mercedes-ness. Sure, these days the E-Class is just one among 17 distinct Mercedes model classes sold in Canada. But even back in the day when there was only a handful of Benzes, the forerunner of the E was among them. So the release of a new E-Class is always a significant event.
That said, let's be clear that this is not an all-new E-Class, but a comprehensive update of the current W212 architecture that first appeared in 2009. The key ingredients are freshened styling, fuel-efficient new powertrains, and yet another escalation in what seems to have become the key theatre of conflict in the luxury-car wars — electronic driving aids.
Our first sampling of the 2014 at its global preview in Spain was an appetiser. Some key variants coming to Canada this April were not present; many of those that were there, won't come here until much later — or not at all.
As well, there was a conspicuous absence of 4Matic (AWD) models in Spain, even though 4Matic will be standard on almost the entire line-up in Canada.
Familiar stuff first
In a nutshell, the 2014 E 300 (3.5 L V6, 248 hp), E 350 (3.5 L V6, 302 hp) and E 550 (4.7 L V8, 402 hp) sedans will arrive first with basically the same powertrains as in 2013. Also returning is the E 350 wagon. The only remaining RWD E-Class — the E 400 Hybrid — will be available to special order.
Coming in September will be the E 63 AMG sedan and wagon, both with — a first for AMG — standard 4Matic. We'll be talking about the AMGs in more detail in a separate story.
Also making its Canadian debut in September will be a diesel. The current 3.5-litre V6 BlueTec will be replaced by a new 2.1-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel that will propel the new E 250 BlueTec 4Matic.
We did manage to drive the E 250 Diesel in Spain, as well as one other new engine — a new 330-hp, 3.0-litre bi-turbo gasoline V6 — that will likely show up on our shores early next year. In Europe this engine gets an E 400 designation, but that could change in Canada.
Buyers in other markets can order their Es with a choice of two distinct "faces" — traditional Elegance, or much edgier Avantgarde. In Canada the Avantgarde look, with the three-point emblem set large within the bold twin-blade grille opening, will be mandatory.
Overall, the 2014 is clearly a fettling of the existing W212 shape, but it's not hard to spot the changes, especially the much bolder front end (see image gallery for more specifics).
Get your head around this number: 23. On a suitably optioned E-Class, that's how many sensors are devoted solely to monitoring activities and objects in the environment outside the car itself. Together, this collection of cameras, radars and ultra-sonic sensors adds new layers to an already extensive array of systems that warn and actively assist the driver. To name but a few:
DISTRONIC PLUS with Steer Assist: While Distronic cruise control automatically keeps a safe following distance from the vehicle in front, Steer Assist pro-actively steers the car to keep it in lane, sometimes even through curves (though the driver does still have to keep hands on wheel).
Steer Assist, incidentally, is separate from Active Lane Keeping, which re-acts to prevent the vehicle from wandering out of its lane. Even Active Lane Keeping has been updated: it now also works on dotted lane markings, and reacts to oncoming traffic.
BAS PLUS with Cross Traffic Assist: unlike other makers' systems that promote safely backing out of parking spots, this one works forwards; if it detects cross traffic and pedestrians, BAS PLUS boosts the braking power applied by the driver.