Future Models - Mercedes-Benz E-class

Mercedes-Benz E-class E200K Classic sedanAll in the family: This spy pic reveals Mercedes-Benz's new E-class bears more than a passing resemblance to its larger S-class sibling.

All in the family: This spy pic reveals Mercedes-Benz's new E-class bears more than a passing resemblance to its larger S-class sibling.

Mercedes-Benz's next-generation E-class, due here late next year, gains an athletic new look


THE new Mercedes-Benz E-class has broken cover, eight months before the much-anticipated mid-size sedan is to make its world debut at the Geneva motor show next March.

As these spy photographs from a US website confirm, Mercedes-Benz has transformed the E-class appearance by drawing heavily from styling cues seen on the S-class range-topper.

Not surprisingly, the overall look is more athletic and muscular than the current model, accentuated by a coupe-like roof, broad waistline and yet another interpretation of the sweeping bonnet and fender sculpting that flows into the trademark quad headlights.

Benz designers have refused to tamper with the four-light theme at the front end - there's no teardrop design as seen on the C-class or an all-encompassing cluster as per the S-class - however the lamps are only slightly raked and contrast markedly with the more upright grille. Very CLK.

The rear is also reminiscent of latest generation Mercedes sedans with features such as its pronounced wedge-shaped taillights and centre-mounted stoplight positioned just underneath the sharp-edged bootlid - a la C-class.

Not due here until the final quarter next year, at the earliest, the new E-class is built on an all-new platform and will bring extensive improvements, among them greater interior room, particularly for rear-seat passengers, a plusher and more modern cockpit, more boot space and a raft of mechanical changes.

Most engines are in line for an overhaul, though the range is expected to remain with a 2.0-litre supercharged four-cylinder (E200K), 3.2-litre V6 (E320), 4.3-litre V8 (E430) and 2.7-litre turbo-diesel (E270 CDI). The 2.4-litre V6 powering the E240 will rise to 2.6-litres - as has occurred in the C240 - while a 5.0-litre V8 is likely to surface in an E500.

A 320kW-plus supercharged version of the 5.0 V8 reserved for an E50 AMG is also due to appear in 2003 - about the time the E-class wagon is first shown.

All-wheel drive versions with ride height control have been mooted while more extensive use of aluminium components, including the bonnet and bootlid, will help keep weight down as the technology gets piled on.

Expect new safety features such as front leg-protecting airbags and S-class innovations like the "Distronic" intelligent cruise control, "Linguatronic" voice control and seats with active ventilation.

"E-class is one of our bread-and-butter cars, it's a mainstream luxury sedan that has been a volume seller for us for many years and its success is critical to the success of the company," Mercedes-Benz spokesman Toni Andreevski said.

"So obviously, when a new model does arrive we will be looking forward to that.

"We probably would see that very late next year or early in 2003 but it's too early to talk about local specifications etc. because we still haven't seen any official details."

Without the element of surprise - spy shots have also surfaced from a New York film set, where the E-class was appearing in the sequel to the sci-fi movie Men in Black - Mercedes-Benz AG could be tempted to officially unveil the car earlier than anticipated, perhaps at Detroit in January.

It still has several new production cars to unveil, including the facelifted S-class and several AMG performance variants for S-class and others.

New E-class key points

- Launch at Geneva 2002 - or earlier

- Due here late 2002/early 2003

- Muscular, athletic stance

- Quad headlights remain

- All-new platform

- Anticipated line-up: E200K, E240, E270 CDI, E320, E430, E500

- And: E50 AMG - powered by 5.0-litre supercharged V8 - due 2003

- Wagons to arrive here late 2003

- Leg-protection airbags

- S-Class innovations such as intelligent cruise control






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