The All-New Mercedes E-Class

Words John Clark | December 10, 2015
Mercedes-Benz is taking a big step into the future by numerous innovations with the new E-Class
Words John Clark December 10, 2015

Mercedes-Benz is taking a big step into the future by numerous innovations with the new E-Class, including in terms of the design of the interior, which features a wide high-resolution next-generation dual display (12.3 inches per display) that appears to hover in space. In addition, touch-sensitive control buttons on the steering wheel make their first appearance in a car. They allow the driver to control the entire infotainment system using finger swipes without having to take their hands off the steering wheel. The all-new experience is rounded off by a novel, intelligent graphic design with high-resolution visualisations and animations as well as simplified control logic. At the same time, the occupants enjoy a sensual interior with spacious architecture and high-quality materials.

The All-New E-Class

“With the interior of the new E-Class, we are giving a new interpretation to the concept of contemporary luxury,” says Hartmut Sinkwitz, Head of Interior Design. “We have designed a spacious and intelligent interior. True to Mercedes-Benz’s design philosophy of sensual purity, it employs technological innovation and high-grade equipment to create an exceptionally emotive experience for driver and front passenger. The E-Class thus not only sets a new standard in the business class. Alongside a workplace and private environment, it also becomes a “third place” – a living area in which passengers are able to enjoy contemporary luxury.”

Wide dual display can be configured to suit personal preferences

The eye-catcher in the comfort-oriented, luxurious interior of the new E-Class is two displays each with a 31.2 cm (12.3-inch) screen diagonal and a resolution of 1920 x 720 pixels. These merge visually to form a wide-screen cockpit, thus acting as a central element to emphasise the horizontal bias of the interior design of the new E-Class. As the instrument cluster, this wide-screen cockpit contains a large display with virtual instruments in the direct field of vision of the driver as well as a central display above the centre console. A common glass cover results in a modern flat-screen look. The driver can choose between three different styles to select their preferred screen design for the wide-screen instrument cluster: “Classic”, “Sport” and “Progressive”.

The wide-screen instrument cluster is optionally available with COMAND Online. Instead, the entry-level model of the new E-Class combines two tube-type round dials and a 17.8 cm colour display cluster (1000 x 600-pixel resolution) with a central display with a 21.3 cm screen diagonal (960 x 540-pixel resolution). The round dials, instrument cluster and central display are installed in a single frame with a high-gloss piano-lacquer look.

The driver can adapt the content of the central display to suit their personal preferences. With the exception of the navigation map (which always fills the complete display area), the graphic content of the central display of COMAND Online is divided into a main area for informative graphics and animations (2/3 on the right side of the display) and a supplementary area (1/3 on the left side of the display).

The display can be backlit at night with multicolour ambience lighting – which then makes the wide-screen cockpit appear to float in space.

The All-New E-Class Interior

The All-New E-Class Interior

Touch control: finger swipes

In a further innovation, the new E-Class is the first ever car to integrate touch control buttons in the spokes of the multifunction steering wheel. Like the surface of a smartphone, the buttons are touch-sensitive and therefore respond precisely to horizontal and vertical finger swipes. This enables the driver to control every function of the infotainment system in the same simple, logical and intuitive manner as with a smartphone without having to take their hands off the steering wheel. Having selected the desired function with a swipe, the driver presses the appropriate touch control button to trigger the function. Another four buttons in each switch panel are provided with the familiar functions, such as for volume control and telephone control.

A further input option, familiar from the C-Class, is offered by the touchpad on the centre console. This, too, allows all functions to be controlled by single or multi-finger gestures (multitouch). The touchpad also permits letters, numbers and special characters to be entered in handwriting. Having recognised the handwritten characters, the system reads them out to enable blind operation without the driver having to divert their attention from what is happening on the road. A handrest detection feature makes for added operating safety while helping to prevent incorrect inputs. Three touch-sensitive buttons are arranged behind the touchpad and can be used to operate key functions quickly and directly (back function, switch to favourites menu, audio quick menu).

In addition to the touch control buttons and the touchpad, the driver can use the COMAND controller and LINGUATRONIC voice control to control the infotainment system. They can choose at any time which input method they prefer.

The new E-Class can also be controlled by direct buttons, such as for controlling the air-conditioning system or – in another first – for simple activation/deactivation of certain driver assistance systems.

In designing the control and display elements, the aim was not only to logically group the vehicle’s controls and display functions in terms of form and content, but also to upgrade and emphasise them. Metallised switch surfaces and genuine-metal controls are used to special high-value effect. Thanks to finely textured, metallic-looking surfaces, some of them in a special finish, each individual control in the vehicle radiates an attention to detail in terms of both touch and sound.

The All-New E-Class

New control experience

The goal in developing the all-new control and display concept was to closely unite intuitiveness of use with functionally expressive yet attractive design. The result is that passengers in the E-Class can enjoy a new control experience with high-resolution visualisations and animations. The developers have focused on the use of newly implemented presentation and display techniques to make it easier – i.e. more intuitive – for the driver to register and experience information. For example, animated displays are used to show the mode of action of assistance systems, or of DYNAMIC SELECT. The likewise animated ECO display in the instrument cluster helps the driver to adopt an economical driving style in an easily understandable manner.

The new look also comes with a novel, clearer menu structure that makes functions easier to select and which, in many cases, leads efficiently to the desired outcome in a manner appropriate to the situation. Ergonomics and intuitiveness of use were key criteria for the developers.

With user experience and connectivity ever more in the spotlight, Mercedes-Benz has set up two new departments to address the digital future: “Digital Graphic & Corporate Design” and “User Interaction”. These centres are closely networked for designing the control and display concepts, i.e. the user interface, for current and future vehicles. This is because, alongside a workplace and private environment, the vehicle interior is increasingly becoming a “third place”, a living area in which passengers wish to enjoy contemporary luxury. With the new department, Daimler is responding to the global trend of “Digital & Connected Life” and thus the rapid advance of digitalisation in all areas of life.

The interior as an expression of emotion and intelligence

With its design bias towards a sense of space, the interior of the new E-Class combines the elegance of the luxury class with the cultivated sportiness of the C‑Class. The design idiom of the new business saloon is characterised by an interplay of strong solid bodies with sculptural surfaces and an avant-garde clarity and extensiveness of control and display zones. This gives form to an expression of emotion & intelligence, a wholly unique, contrast-rich Mercedes-Benz design language that optimally reflects the design philosophy of “Sensual Purity”.

The horizontal, low-lying trim part of the instrument panel with its elegantly sweeping form and flowing lines creates a visual sense of space with a formal calm. The wrap-around of the wave motion into the door linings provides a continuation of the horizontal emphasis on width with timeless sweeping forms. This is typical of the design of Mercedes-Benz saloons from the C-Class to the S-Class. Four circular air vents as in the S-Class make it additionally clear that the new E-Class is closely focused on the luxury segment.

Above the low-lying trim part is a formally coherent and separate solid body, which is forceful and sporty in appearance, as if the upper part of the instrument panel is floating in space. Free-standing yet successfully integrated, the wide-screen display stands in front of the upper part of the instrument panel. Ultra-flat and smoothly glazed across its entire area, the high-resolution screen is of a uniquely superior quality of manufacture. It lends the interior an avant-garde quality that forms a contrast between the cutting-edge design of state-of-the-art consumer electronics and the classically elegant automotive design of the passenger compartment. With its emotional design idiom on the one side and intelligent interior architecture as well as highly advanced control and display elements on the other, the interior of the new E-Class perfectly embodies the synthesis of the two opposite poles of emotion and intelligence.

Depending on the transmission variant, the new E-Class comes with two differently designed centre consoles. Models with automatic transmission have a straight-through centre console, with dynamically rising, sportily high connection to the cockpit, by a control panel in a “Black Panel” glass look. Other controls, such as in the doors, also feature the “Black Panel” look. Conversely, models with manual transmission are provided with a centre console in the form of two separate trim parts.

The All-New E-Class Headlight

The All-New E-Class

Intelligent material design

High-grade materials define the both sporty and elegant style of the interior. They include open-pore woods, wood in a yachting look with flowing lines as a contemporary interpretation of inlaid wood and a novel metal fabric. The use of authentic materials is continued in the leather-covered doors and the beltline for selected lines. Typical of Mercedes is the high-quality look and feel thanks to meticulous detail design and craftsmanship.

Just as carefully composed is the material/colour concept with various shades of brown, including new attractive colour combinations such as brown/macchiato and saddle brown/macchiato. This allows a personalised interior design.

Lighting atmosphere with 64 colours

The interior lighting makes exclusive use of durable, energy-saving LED technology. The same applies to the optionally available enhanced ambience lighting. With

64 colours, it offers a host of possibilities for personalisation. It adds touches of light, for example, to the trim parts, central display, front stowage facility on the centre console, handle recesses, door pockets, front and rear footwells, overhead console, mirror triangle and tweeters (if the vehicle is equipped with the Burmester® high-end 3D surround sound system).

Seat design: first class

A further highlight of the new E-Class is its seats, which create an ergonomic, sculptural impression with their torso form, uniting Mercedes-Benz’s typical suitability for long journeys with a refined, sporty look. The seats are differently designed depending on the line:

Even the basic fabric version emphasises the luxurious ambience of the new E-Class.

The sporty bias and adapted contours of the seats for the AVANTGARDE line, the centre sections of which are transversely tacked, put the accent on sportiness with good lateral support and back-ventilation.

The newly developed seat for the AMG line impresses with a sportier form of the backrest with extremely sporty side bolsters and wide shoulder section for added lateral support.

The EXCLUSIVE line comes with longitudinally tacked centre sections, colour-matched to the overall seat sculpture in fabric/leather combination or nappa leather.

Also available is a diamond-patterned designo seat with perforations similar to an S-Class seat combined with the enhanced lateral support of the sports seat.

3D sound with concert hall experience

The Frontbass system in the new E-Class delivers a special listening experience as standard. It uses the space in the cross-member and side member of the body structure as a resonance chamber for the bass speakers. If the vehicle is additionally equipped with the optionally available Burmester® high-end 3D surround sound system, the occupants are treated to a listening experience reminiscent of the acoustics in a concert hall. This is because the new second-generation Burmester® high-end 3D surround sound system (the first generation is available for the S-Class) uses four roof speakers – two in the front of the roof and two in the rear. The effect: reflections, which come off the ceiling in a concert hall, are incorporated in the same authentic manner into the sound design of the E‑Class. By contrast, other 3D sound systems dispense with roof speakers and merely use appropriate algorithms to simulate a 3D sound.

Apart from 3D Surround, four other preset sound modes can be selected to suit every taste and audio source:

  • Pure: audiophile sound reproduction with no additional effects, for unadulterated musical enjoyment
  • Live: appealing, dynamic sound background akin to live music
  • Easy Listening: milder sound background for relaxed listening over longer periods
  • Surround: virtual surround sound
  • 3D Surround: three-dimensional listening experience provided by the roof speakers

The technical specification of the Burmester® high-end 3D surround sound system employs 23 high-end speakers with diaphragms of glass-fibre fabric for high level stability, low weight and higher power. Specially developed for their task, the roof speakers are extremely small and flat and radiate sound in all directions. The speaker package includes a 25-litre bass box with its own 400 W amplifier in the boot, two woofer/mid-range speakers in the front doors as well as seven mid-range speakers and ring radiator tweeters of aluminium for precise sound resolution. The tweeters in the front mirror triangle not only fulfil their sound function, but are also fascinating design objects: when the sound system is turned on, they revolve out from the mirror triangle into the optimal radiation position. The ambience lighting also transforms them into a visual highlight. Two amplifiers with a total power of 1450 W drive all the speakers individually via separate channels and active crossovers.

A combination of digital and analogue amplifiers also contributes to the special listening experience. The analogue technology ensures a warm, round and full sound, while the digital technology uses a separate power supply to produce high peaks in order to enable a high dynamic between the quietest and loudest tones.

As in the S-Class, the sound can be optimally adjusted for every seat position using the so-called VIP setting.

New headlamps

The intelligence of the new E-Class is reflected also in the headlamps. A characteristic element is the double eyebrow of the reinterpreted front lights. The face of the vehicle is shaped by distinctive headlamps with a clear-lens design. The optional LED High Performance headlamps give the saloon a majestically focused look while featuring an unmistakable design, also by day, with double torch and high-quality modelled details.

A striking feature is the integration of the brand-typical corporate design in the MULTIBEAM LED headlamps. Following the inner contour, it gives a distinctive note to the direction indicators, Coming Home lights, side lights and daytime running lamps. The result is that, in both their night and day design, the Mercedes-Benz models are uniquely identifiable, clearly standing apart from other vehicles at the visual level.

All the headlamp functions are grouped under a lens of clear polycarbonate with scratch-resistant coating. Like various other design elements, the edging is in black, giving an impression of quality and depth.

High-resolution MULTIBEAM LED technology

The E-Class is optionally available with a MULTIBEAM LED headlamp system with ILS (Intelligent Light System) and Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus. The MULTIBEAM LED headlamps are immediately identifiable. They provide new, visual highlights with passively illuminated, blue light surfaces. These outline the hallmark E-Class “torch effect” of the daytime running lamps and side lights and, even when low beam or high beam is switched on, create a blue setting for a fascinating look. This lends an unmistakable character to the light design of E-Class models with MULTIBEAM LED headlamps.

This characteristic look also points to a new dimension in headlamp technology, because MULTIBEAM LED headlamps use 84 individually controlled high-power LEDs in each headlamp. This makes them bright and precise, as they automatically illuminate the road surface with a previously unsurpassed, precision-controlled distribution of light – without dazzling other road users.

When it comes to the number of pixels, the same is true of an LED headlamp as of a monitor: the higher the number of individually controllable pixels, the higher the resolution and the more detailed the image. A high number of pixels also allows greater dynamism in the display. In terms of perception, this leads to a clear increase in precision and brilliance.

This new dimension of precision in light distribution also allows longer use of the partial main-beam lights for added safety, because the driver benefits from better illumination of the road. Compared with conventional systems, MULTIBEAM LED headlamps have up to 2.5 times the partial high-beam light output.

New safety-enhancing functions

Thanks to the totally freely configurable, high-resolution light distribution, it is possible to implement all high- and low-beam functions of the Intelligent Light System by all-digital means. In a world first, the dynamic cornering light function is implemented purely by electronic means. In addition, a host of new, adaptive light functions are possible that make night-time driving safer for both the driver and other road users. These include newly developed bad-weather lights, a City light and a navigation-based junction light.

Stardust at the rear

Another visual characteristic of the new member of the family of Mercedes saloons is the one-part rear lights. The tail lamp in torch design takes up the contour of the rear light not only to emphasise – also in the night design – the characteristic form of the rear light, but also to improve safety.

Optionally available rear lights provide an additional highlight reminiscent of stardust, the Milky Way or the glow of a jet engine. This “stardust” effect is due to many minute and irregular reflectors in the lens of the tail lamp. These so-called Lambert reflectors ensure an extensive, highly homogeneous and brilliant appearance. The optionally available rear light uses all-LED technology.

The newly designed rear lights are also brilliant in terms of safety. The light intensity of the brake lamp varies between daytime and night-time within the legally permissible limits (multi-level functionality). In addition, the direction indicator, which also has multi-level functionality, extends across the entire width in the lower region of the rear light.