When Autosavant first laid eyes on the 2014 Mercedes Benz E-Class, it was at its official debut during the 2013 North American Auto Show in Detroit Michigan, where the newest iteration of the E-Class (in sedan and wagon form) left a good first impression on us with its reworked exterior styling as well as its new interior layout. But with the car now arriving onto dealer lots, does it still have what it takes to compete against the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 while filling the lofty shoes of its popular predecessor at the same time? To find out, I visited my local Mercedes-Benz dealership in Bloomfield Hills Michigan, where their “Open Haus” event allowed me to spend some quality time with the 2014 E-Class lineup and witness first hand whether the company’s efforts to improve the E have paid off.
A key change that most observers will notice is the new design language that defines the exterior styling of the 2014 E-Class. A key example of this is the front of the car, where new headlamp assemblies give the front fascia a more elegant and unified appearance which looks especially striking in person and makes the car stand out when it mingles with city traffic. LED-accented headlights are standard equipment, but buyers can go one step further and choose optional full LED units that are brighter and have a longer life than conventional bulbs. While the profile of the car is similar to the model it replaces, the rear fascia has also been subtly tweaked and features new LED tail lights. However when viewed alongside the old model, they do look quite similar and it takes a trained eye to spot the changes Mercedes engineers have made. To distinguish each trim of E-Class from one another, Mercedes has taken a page out of the smaller C-Class’s playbook, and will offer the car in two distinct trims Sport and a comfort oriented Luxury model. After spending a considerable amount of time in each trim, the Sport model stood out as my favorite of the two, especially with its bolder exterior styling and driver-oriented materials. The Luxury trim does counter with a more upscale interior that makes copious use of wood and leather, but the bland exterior styling cues did detract from it a bit, especially when viewed alongside the Sport variant.
The interior of the 2014 Mercedes Benz E-Class builds upon the already impressive foundations laid out by the previous generation model by adding several refinements and new features that make the cabin an even more luxurious and tech-laden place to spend time in. More wood trim (especially on Luxury models) adorns the steering wheel and dash and is available in two different finishes, while the revised instrument cluster offers better view of the gauges and features a standard color display that offers vital vehicle data at a glance. The optional supple leather seats (MB-Tex Vinyl is standard equipment) were very comfortable with good levels of leg, thigh, and upper back support. However support for the lumbar and lower back areas (while better) still does not match the levels offered by the BMW 5 Series, a key E-Class competitor. Headroom, on the other hand, was very good even in the back seat – which also boasted plenty of leg and knee room even with the front seats set to my preferred driving position. Material quality has been improved for 2014, and a key example of this is in the increased amount of soft touch plastics versus the previous generation model.
Performance for the 2014 E-Class will come from the previous generation E-Class’s power plants; this means that the familiar 3.5 liter V6, the hybrid variant of the 3.5, and the 402 horsepower 4.6 liter V8 will be retained virtually unchanged for the 2014 model year, with other engines gradually trickling in. However for fans of the V8, 2014 will be the only year that this engine will be offered before it gets shelved in favor of a new 3.0 liter twin turbocharged V6 the following year that promises better performance and fuel economy when it arrives in dealer lots. The majority of the models on hand at the “Open Haus” were equipped with the non hybrid 3.5 liter V6 which is good for 302 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. All of this power is routed to either the rear or all four 4Matic-driven wheels through a 7-speed automatic transmission that promises smoother shifts and allows the car to make the sprint to 60 mph in a brisk 6.5 seconds. While drive time was not possible this time due to the number of customers attending the “Open Haus”as well as the limited number of cars on hand, we look forward to perhaps spending sometime behind the wheel of the new E-Class at a later date to find out if its performance credentials have what it takes to fill the previous generation models lofty shoes.
Overall, I was impressed with what Mercedes engineers have done with the 2014 Mercedes Benz E-Class. Not only does it successfully follow in the footsteps of its very capable predecessor with its reworked exterior and interior, but it also brings new technology, and style to the company’s lineup which should please buyers that may otherwise buy rivals such as the BMW 5-Series and the Audi A6 as well as Cadillac’s redesigned CTS sedan.
Thanks to the kind folks at Mercedes Benz of Bloomfield Hills for allowing me to spend time with the 2014 E-Class at their “Open Haus” event for this First Look piece. Their service was excellent, and I look forward to visiting them again for future projects.