Mercedes-Benz facelifts E-Class range with extra tech

  • New look and upgraded equipment
  • AMG models and All-Terrain also get an update
  • Launched alongside three new plug-in hybrids

The current Mercedes-Benz E-Class has been upgraded with a new look, improved engines and more sophisticated driver assistance tech – all in the name of greater comfort, safety and efficiency.

It's hardly as if the outgoing car was feeling its age, but Mercedes-Benz saw fit to give the car a refresh in a very competitivemarket. It’ll go up against the likes of the Lexus ES, BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 when it goes on sale in May, ahead of deliveries in the summer.

New look apes smaller Mercedes models

The changes to the styling are subtle, but bring the E-Class in line with the rest of the Mercedes range – particularly the more recently released models such as the A-Class. The head- and tail-lights are now more horizontal, and the wide grille has a single chrome bar across it rather than several. At the back, there’s another wide chrome bar on the boot lid, mirroring the car’s front.

Other styling tweaks are minimal, though Mercedes is offering three new paint colours – officially named High Tech Silver, Mojave Silver and Graphite Grey Metallic. So… silver, silver, or grey.

The interior is at least a little more colourful, with beiges and browns available along with wooden or metal finishes for the interior surfaces. As you’d expect, there’s plenty of leather around. Mercedes build quality on its larger models is typically exceptional, so we’d expect no less for this facelifted E-Class.

One new item that does debut in the interior is the steering wheel – we’ve not seen it on any Mercedes before. From photographs, it appears to be covered in entirely touch-sensitive switchgear, spread across two levels on either side. We’ll have to get hands-on with the car before we discover how easy this is to use.

2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class rear

Packed with advanced tech

The old E-Class was one of the first mainstream models to debut semi-autonomous driving tech – it was able to ‘drive itself’ (with the driver monitoring it at all times) on motorways. The new model goes one step further, bringing this tech firmly into 2020 with modest but definite improvements.

The first is a capacitive steering wheel sensor – this detects touch, rather than pressure. It means that the driver only needs to lightly hold the wheel to reassure the car they’re there, rather than make slight steering inputs.

Automatic emergency braking is standard, of course, but the Driving Assistance package is where the clever stuff lies. It includes Active Speed Limit Assist, which uses map data and traffic sign recognition to adjust the speed limiter appropriately. Cleverly, it will also use the route loaded into the sat-nav to slow the driver down ahead of bends, junctions or sliproads, too.

The adaptive cruise control can use live traffic data to detect a jam, and once it’s reached the tailback can drive the car on its own at speeds of up to 37mph, taking control of braking, accelerating and steering.

2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class interior

Blind-spot monitoring is present and correct but has taken on a new job of protecting cyclists from being ‘doored’. If you go for the door handle and the car detects a cyclist coming up behind you, the interior of the car will flash red and chime to warn you not to open your door until the threat’s passed.

There’s also lots of interior technology, too. As standard, you get two 10.25-inch displays, one for the dials and one for infotainment – set under the same seamless sheet of glass to give a widescreen effect. They’re optionally upgradeable to 12.3-inches each for the maximum cinema effect.

They’ll be fitted with the latest MBUX operating system, complete with a voice assistant much like Amazon’s Alexa – just say ‘Hey Mercedes’ to activate it.

Wide engine lineup with petrol or diesel plug-in hybrids

Mercedes hasn’t revealed full details of the E-Class’s engine lineup just yet, but we’d expect a similar range of four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. Power outputs will range from 156hp to 365hp on the petrol side of things, and from 160hp to 330hp for diesels.

A new mild-hybrid four-cylinder petrol arrives at the bottom end, capable of coasting with the engine off at high speeds and promising high efficiency. Merc also promises ‘seven plug-in hybrid variants’ though this is made up of the same E 300 e petrol and E 300 de diesel hybrids spread across saloon and estate bodystyles and two- or four-wheel drive.

What this means for you

Good news – if you were intending to buy a large executive saloon car, one of the best just got even better, potentially.

This market sector is all about marginal gains, and the E-Class has some very strong rivals to contend with. We look forward to seeing how it measures up to the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 when it goes on sale later in the year.

2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class dynamic

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