– Although its appearance may not scream it, the all-new 2024 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is, arguably, the most important car the Stuttgart automaker has launched in a period that has seen a flood of new models hit the market.
The E-Class, with a lineage stretching back more than 75 years, is one of the best-selling Mercedes models of all time, but the 2024 model also has the distinction of being the company’s last new model to be built on an internal combustion engine (ICE) platform.
Hence, it’s a car that serves as a line of demarcation, as Mercedes moves from ICE to pure electric propulsion. In press materials, the company describes it as, “a bridge between tradition and digitalization.”
The new E-Class will be offered in a wide array of global variants, including several plug-in hybrids (and a wagon!), but none will be sold on this side of the Atlantic. Instead, North America’s E-Class range will consist of ICE-only sedans with 48-volt mild hybrid assist.
Two models will begin arriving near the end of the year: a four-cylinder turbo 350 E (255 hp / 295 lb-ft.), and an inline six-cylinder turbo 450 E (375 hp / 369 lb-ft.). Both will be paired with nine-speed automatic transmissions and 4MATIC all-wheel drive.
Dimensionally, the new E-Class has a wheelbase that is two centimetres longer than the outgoing model, which delivers more interior space for all passengers.
Visually, the new E-Class has long, limousine-like proportions, with a short front overhang and a long hood that pushes the cabin further back, in what Mercedes calls “cab-backward” design. Long rear overhangs emphasize a sleek stance that has a smooth and slippery side profile.
Up front, new LED headlights, a power dome hood, new air intakes and a large black and chrome-trimmed grille give the E-Class a more aggressive appearance. Both Canadian-spec models will come with standard AMG styling cues, including the grille design which includes many small three-pointed stars flanking a large one in the centre.
Canadian wheel options are also of the AMG variety (21-inchers shown), and black trim, such as front air intakes are standard kit. Of note, the stand-up hood ornament will not be offered here, so we’ll have to make do with a flat hood badge.
A new LED taillight design wraps into the car’s corners with elements that are in the shape of the three-pointed star. Dual silver-trimmed exhaust finishers housed in a black diffuser insert add to the car’s AMG look and feel.
Inside, the E-class is a real tour de force, with a list of technological innovations as long as one’s arm. The showstopper in the new E-Class cabin is the MBUX Superscreen a feature that, as the name suggests, is a dashboard-covering digital glass panel that incorporates a large central multimedia touchscreen and a 10.25-inch unit for the passenger. The Superscreen shown here is optional in Canada, but the standard floating 14.4-inch multimedia touch panel is nothing to sneeze at.
The Superscreen, which is a part of Mercedes’ new digital infrastructure, is something to behold. The central multimedia touchscreen impresses with its pin-sharp resolution and remarkable map detail, but the passenger screen has its own innovations. For example, if the driver attempts to look at it the screen dims to reduce distraction.
The display itself offers a variety of functions, including navigation, games, music, and video streaming. Even though I was in Austria, several CNN clips were available, and I even watched a trailer for The Batman
, dubbed in German, while riding along as a passenger.
As for the new digital infrastructure, it’s advanced stuff. Essentially, it’s more software-driven, which means that computing functions that were once separate are now controlled by a single processor in a powerful central computer. All screens, including the 10.25-inch configurable instrument cluster, have centralized control, with the main advantage being faster data transmission. The new E-Class is also 5G-enabled, which works in conjunction with a third-party data provider.
Other tech-related features of note include the presence of a dash-mounted selfie camera, which can be used to conduct remote Webex meetings. Webex is one of several apps that will be available for the central multimedia display at launch. Others include Angry Birds, TikTok, and web browser Vivaldi.
The new E-Class will also be available with Active Ambient Lighting with Sound Visualization that changes the light display based on the beats and rhythms of the music being played.
Voice controls have also been updated, so that when the “Just Talk” function is enabled, the “hey Mercedes” prompt is no longer needed. Artificial intelligence (AI) is also being deployed to learn patterns for features that are used repeatedly, such as ambient lighting and climate settings. Mercedes aims to use AI to automate these functions into pre-selected “routines” that users can choose from, or they can create their own.
So, the new E-Class has loads of impressive new technology but how does it drive?
I spent about half a day driving a 450 E tester on local roads and highways, including the Autobahn, in and around Vienna, and come away impressed with the car’s level of refinement, performance and general driving dynamics.
The turbo inline-six works in conjunction with an integrated starter-generator (ISG), to give the E-Class a boost of mild hybridization. The ISG uses a new battery, which has increased the output of the electric motor from 15 to 17 kW, with torque output rated at 148 lb-ft.
In practice, this electrified boost helps the E 450’s acceleration from rest, and for inevitable highway merging and passing. The torque curve of the turbo inline-six is quite flat, with peak torque beginning at just 1,800 rpm, so the ISG delivers power in the meat of the powerband while also delivering improved fuel efficiency. It should also help with cold weather starting in our home and native land.
My E 450 tester delivered a smooth and quiet ride that often felt like gliding. Sport mode makes the engine growl a bit louder, along with requisite sharper throttle response and higher engine revs, but only by a degree. The car can be quite fast, but it’s also a very pleasant cruiser.
In sum, the E-Class remains the automotive equivalent of a custom-tailored suit. Everything is precisely assembled and works together seamlessly including the car’s finely crafted cabin, which I didn’t touch on, but the photos speak for themselves. It is as comfortable as it appears.
This is a time of great change for the automotive industry as carmakers, including Mercedes-Benz with its EQ lineup, shift from internal combustion towards an electric future. More than 16 million E-Classes since 1946, and this one, the last in a long line of internal combustion engine cars, is a fitting tribute to that legacy.
The 2024 Mercedes-Benz E-Class will begin arriving in late 2023. The E 450 will arrive early next year, Pricing and fuel consumption will be announced closer to launch.
2024 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
premium mid-size sedan
Front-engine, all-wheel drive, 9-speed automatic transmission
3.0-litre turbocharged inline six-cylinder w/ 48-volt mild hybrid system (375 hp / 369 lb-ft.)
540 litres (19 cu ft.)