With the next BMW 5 Series over 12 months away, the launch in Ireland this week of the new Mercedes E-Class is set to give the Stuttgart manufacturer a headstart in sales.
Described as the brand’s most important model introduction this year, the new E-Class has already been the subject of record levels of pre-orders and is expected to become the clear leader in the medium-sized executive segment.
The E-Class is now in its 10th generation — going all the way back to the W120 ‘Ponton’ version in 1953 — and some 13m units have been sold since then. Mercedes says the model lies at the very heart of the company’s activities.
Despite the expansion in the number of models being offered — as we alluded in these columns last week — it is confidently expected to continue to be the marque’s biggest seller here, a position it has traditionally held.
Speaking at this week’s launch, Ciaran Allen, sales manager for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars in Ireland, said that buoyed by an unprecedented level of interest and a bank of pre-launch orders far into treble-digit territory, the new E-Class will play an important role in underpinning the position of Mercedes-Benz as flag-carrier in the luxury segment.
“Exceptional in every respect, it will redefine standards in the business class, not least in its outstanding specifications and highly competitive price-to-value proposition,” he said.
Mercedes has described this car as being a “masterpiece of intelligence”, and says it set out to give owners a preview of what motoring will be like for future generations. Showcasing a number of features that electronics and mobile technology make possible — some standard, some optional — the new E-Class brings the era of “autonomous and accident-free motoring” even closer.
Whatever about that, the E-Class will most certainly enjoy the 12 months or so of free rein it will have before the 5 Series comes along to go head-to-head with it. Indeed it will be interesting to see what extra technologies BMW will be throwing at the car now they see what its main rival has to offer.
That is a while away yet, but Mercedes maintains that one of the systems it has adopted on the new car — one it says every motorist will applaud — is a feature that allows the car to be manoeuvred remotely via a mobile phone without the driver being inside, ending potential shopping centre or car park nightmares where you find yourself hemmed in with no access to your car.
Mercedes says the movement towards autonomous motoring is reflected in the new Drive Pilot system in which key functions such as remote parking, guidance, speed control, braking, acceleration, gear changing, and an ability to anticipate hazards ahead and take corrective action are among those that can be carried out automatically, depending on model and options choice.
Under the bonnet there is a completely new engine on which Mercedes-Benz apparently spent some €2.6bn developing. It delivers a 17% weight reduction, lower fuel consumption (3.9 litres/100km combined), lower CO2 (102g/km), increased horsepower (194 bhp), 400Nm of torque, and lower road tax (€190).
The E-Class now boasts many of the styling elements we’ve already seen in the S-Class and C-Class. The company describes the look as sophisticated, elegant, and stylishly sporty. It has a body 43mm longer than its predecessor and 65mm longer in terms of wheelbase. It also has a coupé-like roof-line and a muscular rear end, like that of its bigger and smaller siblings.
Here in Ireland three style and equipment lines are offered: Avant Garde, Exclusive, and AMG. As before, buyers can choose between models with a bonnet-mounted star and louvered grille favoured by regular E-Class owners or one with grille inset star, which is said to be more likely to appeal to sporty types.
Maintaining Mercedes’ recent price-value offering — whereby features that previously came only as options are now included as standard — the entry-level Avant Garde model is equipped with over €7,000 worth of standard features compared to the outgoing version.
Included is Parking Pilot assist, heated front seats, full leather upholstery, reversing camera, LED static lights, satellite navigation, mirror pack, ambient lighting, stowage pack, ‘through loading’ feature, seat comfort pack, alarm pack, and a ‘connect me’ function. Standard on all models is the excellent 9G Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission.
Interior highlights are said to include newly sculptured seats, heated armrests in the doors and centre console, and a choice of 64 interior LED lighting colours. Optionally available are two high-resolution 12.3in display screens (a first in the segment) and three different widescreen instrument cluster styles. A wide choice of materials and colour combinations gives owners scope to ‘individualise’ the interior.
It is the first car ever to feature touch-sensitive finger swipe buttons on the steering wheel, which the driver can use to control the infotainment system while keeping both hands on the steering wheel. Mobile phones with the inductive charge facility can be charged and connected with no need for cables or a telephone holder.
In Ireland, focus is being placed on the E220d Avantgarde Automatic at €52,850 ex works — which represents a price decrease of €850 compared to the previous model. Also available to order will be Exclusive (€55,210) and AMG versions (€57,650). Available also is an E350d version at €66,900. Further model variants to follow in time will include an E350e hybrid and a powerful V6 E350d.
We will be testing the new E-Class in very short order, so watch this space for more on that.
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