Mercedes-Benz is giving its best-selling E-Class line-up a little nip, tuck and smoothing for the new year.
This new, fresh-faced E gets its global debut at next month’s Detroit auto show before hitting the showrooms next spring as a 2014 model.
It’s been four long years since the current version landed, so the time is right for a mid-cycle refresh to keep the E-Class faithful coming back for more - and steering new buyers away from BMW’s 5, Audi’s A6 and Lexus’ funky new GS.
Most of the knife-work has been focused on the front end, with a new hood design, awesome new LED headlights, and an aggressive bumper design that could have come from the drawing board of AMG, Merc’s performance division.
Gone is the old quad headlight design. In its place are twin one-piece units with cool-looking LED daytime running lights that give the look of twin headlights.
The new lights book-end a bigger and bolder grille that, for the first time, is available in two designs. For the ‘Luxury’ version, there’s a three-louver look with the trademark three-pointed star on the hood. For the ‘Sport’ model, it’s a terrific two-bar design with a pizza-sized star right in the center.
I was never a fan of the current car’s awkward, over-sized bulge over the rear wheels. For this new model, it’s been smoothed out and stretched to give a more pleasing, quietly muscular look.
At launch, the model line-up will stay pretty much the same, with both the E sedan and wagon available with a choice of V-6 (E350) or V-8 (E550) engines that are carried forward from today’s range.
But come next fall, Mercedes will introduce an E250 BlueTEC powered by a high-economy turbocharged 2.1-liter four-cylinder cranking out 190-hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Expect 40-plus mpg economy.
There’ll also be an E400 Hybrid, equipped with a 302-horse 3.5-liter V-6 boosted by a 27-hp electric motor that should deliver 24 mpg city and 30 mpg on the highway.
And expect all the hi-po AMG E63 models to come flooding in, along with new E-Class coupes and convertibles, as we head towards 2014.
There’s also a big technology story with this new E-range, including Collision Prevention Assist that, together with Adaptive Brake Assist, moves closer to preventing collisions. A new Stereo Multi-Purpose Camera system will build a three-dimensional view, on the dashboard screen, of what’s ahead for a distance of up to 1,650 feet.
The E-Class has always been one of my favorites for its all-round capability, restrained elegance and bank-vault solidity. This upcoming 2014 version is only going to cement our relationship.