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Mercedes-Benz's new E-Class ups the autonomous ante

By Tom Wiltshire, 04 Mar 2020 Car News

Mercedes-Benz E-Class facelift

A series of updates help keep Benz's executive model fresh

  • Merc's exec express gets a thorough makeover
  • Next-level traffic autonomy is included
  • New powertrains on offer

Mercedes-Benz has revealed the latest variant of its luxurious E-Class executive model. Intended to be previewed at the now-cancelled 2020 Geneva Motor Show, it’s more of what we’ve grown used to for the E-Class’ facelift – that is to say, more tech and more luxury than ever before.

There’s also a new look bringing the E-Class more in line with Mercedes’ fresher models.

2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

The new grille and light treatments – both front and rear – are more horizontal than vertical, giving the E-Class the same sort of flavour as its younger siblings. 

Redesigned lights are full LED as standard, with fancy Multibeam adaptive units (incorporating steroidal-sounding ULTRA RANGE high beam) available further up the range.

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There’s plenty of chrome fore and aft – a strip in the grille is mirrored by a chunky bar of the stuff on the boot lid. Piano black fills in the rest, including vanes on the air intakes and splitters.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2020 facelift

AMG models will have a redesigned bonnet with power domes, while the All-Terrain will be spiritually closer to its SUV siblings such as the GLC, with chrome finishes replacing the brushed silver found on the previous model.

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As you’d expect, there’s the latest MBUX operating system at the core of it all. It operates via two screens – either 10.25in or optionally 12.3in wide - arranged side-by-side under the same glossy enclosure to give a real widescreen experience.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2020 facelift

We’ve seen all this in recent models such as the GLS, but we’ve not seen the E-Class’ new steering wheel before. It’s either a split three-spoke design or a six-spoke one, depending on how literal you are.

Essentially, that means it looks to be rather more of a button-fest than even Merc’s previous wheel, though how many of those are physical switches and how many are touch-sensitive remains to be seen.

READ MORE: Mercedes-Benz E-Class news and reviews

Elsewhere, the cabin is much the same – with intricate metal air vents, knurled metal aplenty and a swish combination of wood and leather adorning most surfaces. The infotainment adopts the same flat touchpad as its newer sister cars, ditching a scroll wheel once and for all.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2020 facelift

New finishes are available inside and out, too. Three new paint colours are as imaginative as you’d expect from a large German saloon – they’re High-Tech Silver, Mojave Silver, or Graphite Grey Metallic. Inside it’s slightly more exciting, with combinations of brown and beige available if you opt for the right trim levels. New for this year is a clever automatic driving position adjustment – input your height on the infotainment display and the car will adjust the seat and wheel for you.

New powertrains

Whether Australia gets the full line-up is uncertain but European markets will have petrol engines from 115kW to 270kW, and diesels from 118kW to 243kW.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2020 facelift

Again, like most other recent Merc arrivals, there is a new four-cylinder petrol with a mild-hybrid system and just about every daft word Mercedes could think of – all fitted in the name of added efficiency.

There’s a Nanoslide cylinder coating, Conicshape cylinder honing, a segment charger with flow connection… but all you need to know is that it’s capable of coasting at high speeds with the engine switched off, features an electric compressor for the turbocharger and promises very high efficiency.

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There’s also a glut of emissions control systems fitted to both petrol and diesel engines. As for plug-in hybrids, the E300 e petrol and E300 de diesel will be carried over, though it’s likely they’ll be tweaked and potentially rebadged. Details are thin on the ground so far.

New tech

Mercedes-Benz was one of the first with semi-autonomous driving on the current E-Class, so it’s added and improved it all for this facelifted model.

First off is the fitment of capacitive sensors in the steering wheel – this detects touch, rather than pressure, so there’ll be no need to keep twitching the steering in order to prevent the car yelling at you.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2020 facelift

Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection is standard, while the Driving Assistance package will add plenty of other goodies. Active Speed Limit assist uses map data and traffic sign recognition to adjust the speed limiter appropriately and can also use the route in the sat-nav to adjust ahead of bends, intersections or sliproads.

READ NEXT: Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet quick review

The adaptive cruise control will also use live traffic data to detect a tailback and reduce speed unless told otherwise. Once in said tailback, it’ll drive the car at speeds of up to 50km/h, stopping and starting.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2020 facelift

Blind-spot monitoring is also available and works even when the car’s switched off – hopefully preventing the occupants from opening their doors into pedestrians or cyclists.

Finally, there’s Urban Guard, which is a vehicle protection system capable of tracking the vehicle and informing the owner of any potential theft or break-ins via their Mercedes app.

READ NEXT 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 review

Mercedes-Benz E-Class in Australia

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is expected to go on sale in Australia during the latter part of this year. Local specifications and pricing will be revealed prior to launch, according to Mercedes-Benz.

This story was originally published by CarMagazine.co.uk