2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class: A few more secrets are revealed

Mercedes-Benz has had a camouflaged trio of the facelifted fifth-generation, 2021 E-Class sedans on tour around Las Vegas, releasing driblets of information before a reveal at the Geneva Motor Show next month. YouTuber Marc Christiansen spent time on a ride-along with the sedan’s chief engineer, Michael Kelz, tooling around Vegas and gathering what information he could. We know there will be two engines offered, a brand new M254 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder will debut in the E-Class, and the 3.0-liter straight-six first introduced on the current CLS, both with 48-volt mild-hybrid assistance. The four-cylinder in the video featured a plug-in port on the right side of the rear bumper, but we don’t know yet if or when the PHEV will make it here.

The four-cylinder has new features to help save more fuel, such as the new glide function in the Eco driving mode. Up to now, in vehicles like the C-Class and GLC, glide mode decouples the engine from the transmission. In the coming E-Class, glide mode will turn the engine off.  

Engineers did a lot of work on cabin and driving-assistance technologies. There will be another iteration of the carmaker’s MBUX system, new gesture controls for the infotainment system, and new touch control buttons with different technology behind them. The gesture control camera can tell the difference between driver and passenger inputs, and with dual microphones, voice-control operation can distinguish driver from passenger, too. The cameras controlling lank-keep assistance work different and utilize new programming, resulting in better navigation in general and especially in areas where construction affects the roadway. The automatic parking system graduates to Parking 5, with new sensors, faster processing and parking action, and better camera angles to give the driver a better view of what’s happening. Kelz said it «may be quite breathtaking for some.»

The E-Class in the video is fitted with an AMG-line steering wheel with six spokes sprouting from a small center; there’s clear air between the three clusters of spokes. The wheel still has a bit of tape on it, but Kelz said, «New steering wheels will be the defining new feature of the interior of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.» The wheels also get a new system for detecting the driver’s hands.

This being a facelift, exterior revisions won’t match what’s happening under the skin. We can expect a wider grille, twin power domes on the hood, new-look headlights with a new high beam action, a redesigned lower bumper, and tweaks out back. Under the skin, undercarriage changes on the base Avantgarde model lower the sedan’s coefficient of drag, while the optional Airmatic suspension has been re-valved to lower its energy use.

Explanations of all this and more are in the video. The banter’s in German, but the subtitles are good.

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