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Already in the early 20th century, vehicles positioned below the top-of-the-range and luxury classes, yet above the compact class, were an essential part of the model portfolio of Mercedes-Benz and the brands that came before. The first Mercedes models, which came to market in 1901 and established the concept of modern automotive construction, were already available in different versions and targeted different customers – including those who would choose a vehicle of the upper mid-range segment today.
With over 14 million units delivered since 1946, the E-Class is the best-selling model series in the history of Mercedes- Benz. It is perceived by many as the “heart of the brand”. Customers of the E-Class are among the most loyal fans of the Mercedes star: Eight out of ten E-Class Sedan customers remain loyal to Mercedes-Benz when buying their next vehicle.
When production started up again after the Second World War, the first car to go into production was the 170 V model, originally introduced in 1936, initially as a vehicle for rescue services, police, commerce and trades. It was soon followed by a sedan version as the first post-war Mercedes-Benz passenger car in 1947.
The 180 model (W 120) of 1953 with unibody and “Ponton” shape set new technical as well as formal trends. It was followed in 1961 by the four-cylinder versions of the “Fintail” model series (W 110) – the first model with safety body and crumple zones. The next major step came seven years later in the form of the “Stroke Eight” (model series W 115/114). At the same time, with the arrival of the first coupe model, this marked a widening of the scope of available body variants. Its success was surpassed yet again by the successor model series 123 starting in 1976. It was also produced in a wagon version – with which Mercedes-Benz set standards for the wagon car as a family-friendly lifestyle and recreational vehicle. The 124 series of the years 1984 to 1995, which was also available as a four-seater cabriolet, was first given the name E-Class in mid-1993.
The new E-Class has the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz driving assistance systems providing cooperative support to drivers. This results in an especially high level of active safety: the Sedan and All-Terrain are able to react if the driver doesn’t through the hands-off recognition, which now works on a capacitive basis. This enhances user-friendliness when driving in semi-automated mode. In order to inform the assistance systems that the driver still has control of the E- Class, it is sufficient for the driver to hold the steering wheel. Previously, a slight steering movement was required as feedback when utilizing the assistance systems. Now, the new steering wheel features a pad with the appropriate sensors in the rim that register whether the driver is holding the wheel. If the system detects that the driver does not have their hands on the steering wheel for a certain period of time, a warning cascade is initiated, which ultimately activates Emergency Brake Assist if the driver continues to be inactive.
As standard, the E-Class comes with Active Brake Assist, which in many situations is able to use autonomous braking to prevent a collision or mitigate its severity. At normal city speeds, the system is also able to brake for stationary vehicles and crossing pedestrians, and even to prevent collisions depending on the situation. As part of the Driving Assistance Package, this is now also possible when turning off across the oncoming lane.
The updated Driver Assistance package also includes Active Speed Limit Assist, which uses map data and information from Traffic Sign Assist to respond to changes in the speed limit. Route-based speed adjustment ahead of bends, roundabouts, toll stations, three-way stops and prior to turning off or exiting highways, is also included in the scope of delivery. When the driver switches on Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC with route-based speed adjustment, the E- Class is now able to respond to data from LiveTraffic Information with End-of-Traffic-Jam Assist. Ideally, this happens even before the driver or the radar and camera sensors are able to detect a traffic obstruction. When a traffic jam is detected, the speed is reduced to approx. 60 mph as a precaution unless the driver deliberately decides otherwise.
The E-Class is fitted with an entirely new steering wheel as part of the model update. It is available as either an all-leather steering wheel or a wood-leather combination. The control surfaces feature a high-gloss black finish, while the trim elements and surrounds have a silver shadow finish. The instrument cluster and the media display are controlled by swiping along the Touch Control Buttons. The operating principle of the Touch Control Buttons changes from optical to capacitive. A mechanical system was no longer needed, and the touch surfaces also are less susceptible to fingerprints. Whether the driver has control of the steering wheel is now determined by means of capacitive detection (see section on the driving assistance systems).
The new E-Class is equipped with the latest generation of the MBUX multimedia system (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). As standard, it includes two large 12.3 inch screens, which are arranged side by side for a widescreen appearance. The information in the instrument cluster and on the media display is easily legible on the large, high- resolution screens. An emotive presentation with brilliant graphics underlines the comprehensibility of the intuitive control structure.
The E-Class Sedan and Wagon are produced in the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen Plant and come off the same line as the Mercedes-Benz CLS and the Mercedes-AMG® GT 4-door Coupe in a flexible production system. The production uses modern digital technologies – from smartphones for locating vehicles on the line and additive manufacturing methods for producing equipment to digital shop floor management, which involves various key indicators being managed in one system. The production also uses the Ubisense system. This system locates the fastening tools an employee requires in the assembly process and provides the employee with the necessary information about a specific vehicle. In this way, only the tools actually required for working on the vehicle are activated. The employee receives optimal support in the assembly process. The Sindelfingen plant is the center of competence for passenger cars of the upper and luxury segment as well as the lead plant for the S- and E-Class. The location employs more than 35,000 people. In addition to the aforementioned models, Mercedes-Benz produces the S-Class Sedan, Coupe and Cabriolet, Mercedes-Maybach S-Class as well as the Mercedes-AMG® GT family there. Going forward, this will also be the location for the production of electric vehicles of the new EQ product and technology brand. Starting in 2022, the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen Plant will be fully CO2-neutral.