– Vienna, Austria
The current generation of the E-Class, the W213, has been on the market since 2016, yet for some reason it doesn't feel that old. Perhaps that's because 2020's comprehensive facelift still looks fresh and modern. Or, maybe it's just because of how easy it is to forget about the big E and its middling status, slotting in between the C and S yet rarely receiving as much fanfare as either.
To ensure you pay attention this time, Mercedes is throwing the kitchen sink at the 2024 E-Class, the W214, which will hit European dealers sometime this summer. A new platform, fresh styling, loads of cutting-edge technology, and a boatload more boot space make the E-Class more compelling than ever before.
|Quick Stats||2024 Mercedes-Benz E450|
|Engine||Turbocharged 3.0-Litre I6 Mild-Hybrid|
|Output||375 BHP / 369 Pound-Feet|
|Top Speed||130 MPH (electronically limited)|
|On-Sale Date||Early 2024|
Gallery: 2024 Mercedes-Benz E-Class First Drive Review
A Bigger Footprint
Let's start with that new platform, which is about a half-inch longer than before, gaining 12 millimetres (0.5 inch) in height and 8 mm (0.3 in) in width as well. Wheelbase, though, grows more significantly, 22 mm (0.87 in) to be exact, and much of that new space is found in the rear passenger compartment. The rear seats still aren't exactly overflowing with legroom, but there is still at least a lofty amount of headroom.
The most significant change, though, is actually in the boot. The outgoing E-Class offers a paltry 370 litres (13.1 cubic feet) of boot space, which is smaller than the old Toyota Yaris saloon, for comparison's sake. For the 2024 E-Class, that jumps up to 538 litres (19.0 cu ft). That's the difference between telling your kids to pack light for a weekend getaway and deciding to bring all the board games for your week-long visit to the cabin.
That boot space stays the same even for the hybrid version of the car. That's because every version of the E-Class is a hybrid, whether you go with the 255 bhp, 295 pound-foot inline four E350 4Matic or the 375 bhp, 369 lb-ft E450 4Matic. For those counting, that's up 13 bhp and 7 lb-ft over the outgoing E450's inline-six.
Neither are plug-ins, and Mercedes-Benz isn't quoting any efficiency figures just yet, but the 48-volt mild hybrid system in the 2023 E450 4Matic does 23 mpg city, 30 highway, so expect something in that ballpark again.
While I can't cite efficiency figures, I can at least tell you about how that system drives. Though turbocharged, the E450 doesn't suffer from much in the way of lag. If anything, it's a little too eager to get going. It took a few pulls away from stop lights before I got the hang of the throttle, which even in Comfort mode is surprisingly snatchy.
Comfort mode is matched with the typical complement of Sport, Eco, and Individual modes, the latter of which allows you to choose your steering weight, how aggressive the nine-speed automatic transmission is, and how stiff the air suspension is – assuming you ticked that box, anyway.
Go for the air suspension and Mercedes throws in rear-steering, available on the E-Class for the first time. This adds 4.5 degrees of steering to the rear, cutting a full 3 feet from the turning circle of what is an increasingly lengthy saloon. It also adds a fair bit of hustle through the corners, but even in E450 trim that's not really what the E-Class is about. (At least, not until the inevitable AMG flavour).
More important is the ride quality, which is impressive. The car presented a pleasant poise through the hairpin bends leading up and out of Vienna during the global launch for the car. But, when the road turned to cobblestones for the last few miles of the climb, toggling from Sport over to Comfort delivered a remarkably compliant ride. On the highway at speed the car is smooth as can be.
That comfort continues through to the interior. The old E-Class was no slouch in this department and the new one doesn't disappoint either. Materials and fit and finish are excellent, as is the feel of the open-pore wood you can opt to splay across the transmission tunnel and dashboard.
On the highway at speed the car is as smooth as can be.
There's good isolation from the outside world, too, the E-Class not quite delivering EQS levels of serenity at speed, but clearly Mercedes engineers have picked up a trick or two from their electrification efforts.
If there's a fault here, it's that the inline six is perhaps a little too quiet when pressed. Thankfully, technology has a solution.
The Tech Package
Welcome to what Mercedes-Benz calls Progressive Sport Sound, the kind of technology we've seen on the company's EQ-branded EVs, now available on something with internal combustion.
With a few taps in MBUX, you can enable a fake engine noise that instantly turns that finely balanced inline-six into something with a lot more displacement. The seat thrums with a faux-aggressive timing at idle, the engine screams through the speakers as you accelerate, and you even get some fake pops under decel.
While I'll admit this is all very silly, I'm also forced to admit that, remarkably, it kind of works. It actually does scratch the same itch as hearing a finely tuned sport exhaust. And the best part? You can only hear it in the cabin. No worries about bothering the neighbours.
Things get even sillier with another of the E-Class's new tricks. This is the first Mercedes-Benz with a selfie camera, a high-def, wide-angle unit perched up high on the dash, all the better to watch you. No, it's not there for some next-level Overwellian cabin-monitoring, it's here so that you can get your TikTok on.
Seriously, this is the first car in the world with integrated TikTok. As a casual TikToker myself I can't say as I see the appeal, but there's also WebEx and Zoom integration for more typically E-Class social affairs.
When you're stationary, you see the other attendees on the display and they see you through that wide-angle view. Get under way again and both the camera and streaming view are disabled, so you're basically kicked back to voice-only.
It's hard to get too excited about the prospects of joining a meeting from the driver's seat, but as someone who's tried to awkwardly manage Zoom calls while on the road, the implementation here is super-smooth and I have no doubt it'll be a popular feature. More apps and integrations are sure to follow on the iOS-aping interface.
Super-smooth is an apt way to describe the rest of the car, to. The E-Class' entire software suite, the familiar MBUX interface, is slick and responsive, and yes there'll be both wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. That all runs on a new, dual-screen setup that Mercedes calls Superscreen, stepping down from the Hyperscreen of the EQS by using LCDs instead of OLED for the dual 12.3-inch displays and central 14.3-inch display and by not integrating the gauge cluster into the package.
The updated advanced driver assist system is also smooth, adding a new Active Lane Change system that automatically overtakes cars on the highway. You don't even need to touch the turn stalk. In heavy traffic into and out of Vienna, the E450 I drove did a remarkably good job of choosing when to overtake and when to wait, never pulling out in front of fast-approaching traffic and always moving back over to the right lane promptly after a pass.
It is miles and miles better than Tesla's jerky and unpredictable "Full Self Driving" at this point. But, like Tesla's system, this is still hands-on assistance: The E-Class doesn't offer the level 3 autonomy coming soon to the S-Class.
Smoothest, though, might be the styling, which is slightly more upright in the nose from before, but otherwise has the slithery aspect of a stone pulled up from a long, cold slumber in a running stream. The result is a 0.23 aerodynamic coefficient of drag, helped by things like retractable door handles and optional aero wheels.
Unremarkable, Yet Superb
Admittedly, the 2024 E-Class is little more exciting than the outgoing one, but this latest generation of Mercedes-Benz's workhorse saloon is better than ever, nicer to drive, and likely more frugal, too. It's a superb package.
The big remaining question is how much will it cost. The outgoing E-Class starts at £57,225 for an E300. Surely all the new tech, toys, and turbos will drive that up a bit, but to know by how much we'll just have to wait.
Photo Credit: Tim Stevens For Motor1.com
- Audi A6: Not Rated
- BMW M550i: 8.0 / 10
2024 Mercedes-Benz E450