Next-gen Mercedes E-Class to stick with combustion engines

The next Mercedes E-Class arrives in 2023, and in a time of the German marque’s all-electric renaissance, it will be out to prove that Merc’s thermal favorite is still an important model.

It will hit UK roads in the second half of next year, beating the next-generation BMW 5 Series to market. However, while its rival will offer an all-electric option in addition to its combustion and hybrid drivetrains, the E-Class will stick to 48-volt mild-hybrid petrol and diesel engines, as well as plug-in hybrid power. Instead, Mercedes’ EQE electric sedan will line up as the stable EV companion to the E-Class.

New E-Class development prototypes have been spotted on public roads in Europe, as Mercedes prepares to replace one of its most popular and iconic models. The nameplate has been around for nearly 30 years as Mercedes’ executive sedan, and while sales of these models are declining in favor of SUVs, it’s still
Merc’s best-selling four-door, accounting for 16% of the brand’s business in 2020, with over 300,000 sales in a year of enormous global uncertainty.

The development cars we spotted didn’t wear much camouflage, and there’s a reason for that. The style of the new E-Class will not mark a radical break with the latest C-Class and S-Class of the brand.

New horizontal taillights, a smoother surface, straighter nose and styling touches such as flush and retractable door handles will be retained for the new E-Class. Our exclusive main images preview what’s to come of the range of two models, consisting of a sedan and a station wagon. It is understood that the E-Class Coupe and Convertible models will not be continued, with the arrival of an all-new CLE package to cover those bases.

Our spies have yet to see the interior of the new E-Class’ cabin, but, as with the exterior makeover, the interior will receive a redesign that will center on a new portrait-oriented touchscreen system coming out of the center console, again similar to the C-Class and S-Class. Styling will become uniform across the brand’s three sedans, but not the tech that powers the displays.

The C-Class and S-Class differ in terms of the screen sizes they offer and the technology behind them. The E-Class is likely to come standard with the 11.9-inch screen optional on the C-Class, with the S-Class’ 12.9-inch OLED panel with haptic feedback on the options list. Expect a fully digital instrument panel to come as standard, with 3D instruments available. The E-Class is also expected to offer a similar semi-autonomous head-up display and driver aids to its big brother, although these are also offered as options.

Much of this new cabin technology will be made possible by a move to the Mercedes MRA2 platform; this architecture will allow the E-Class to take a big leap forward in terms of electrification.

Expect line-wide availability of a 48-volt mild-hybrid power supply. Every diesel and petrol version of the new E-Class will support this technology, but a new plug-in hybrid model with significantly greater electric range and improved efficiency will be the biggest draw, using battery and motor technology from the S-Class. A new E 300 e will combine a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol unit with this new technology, enabling a range of over 60 miles on battery power and company car benefit rates.

What AMG has planned for the new E-Class is still unknown, although high-performance versions of the next model will arrive shortly after the base sedan’s launch. The upcoming AMG C 63 will switch to a new four-cylinder plug-in hybrid configuration producing up to 600bhp, but sources in Germany suggest the upcoming E 63 could retain the marque’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, offering more than 650 hp and 4MATIC all-wheel drive.

As for the chassis, the new C-Class dropped air suspension from the options list, but the E-Class is unlikely to follow. As with the larger S-Class, it will also be offered with a new rear wheel steering system. However, it won’t offer the same capabilities as the brand’s flagship limo, which can spin the rear wheels up to 10 degrees in the opposite direction to the fronts to improve agility.

How the Mercedes E-Class evolved

W124 (1993-1995)

A name change saw the facelifted W124 rebranded as the E-Class. The range was completed by the V8-powered E500, built by Porsche, and the W124 is now a cult classic.

W210 (1995-2003)

Mercedes E-Class 2nd Generation

It was the first generation to feature V6 engines, while the addition of xenon headlights was a first for a Mercedes. The most powerful model was the 354 hp E55 AMG.

W211 (2002-2009)

Mercedes E-Class 3rd Generation

Big sales figures saw over 1.5 million units sold worldwide. Efficiency was key, with a wide range of diesel engines offered throughout its life.

W212 (2009-2016)

Mercedes E-Class 4th Generation

An angular design marked the W212, although it was smoothed out in 2013. Coupe and convertible variants arrived with this generation.

W213 (2016-present)

Mercedes E-Class 5th generation

The current car is packed with technology first seen in the S-Class, including advanced driver assistance systems. The flagship AMG model introduced four-wheel drive and up to 604 hp.

Check out the latest news on the all-new BMW 7 Series here…

Kevin A. Perras