The show must go on, in one form or another, and Mercedes-Benz was one of an assortment of automakers to stage livestream news conferences today in lieu of the normal media day at the Geneva International Motor Show.
One could easily understand the Schwabian automaker’s desire to hold a big reveal considering all the new products it had under the tarp, starting with a major makeover of the ever-popular E-Class line. The E-Class now joins the array of Mercedes products offering plug-in hybrid options. And it isn’t alone, with new PHEV versions of the CLA and GLA also joining the line-up.
Easily the biggest news of the day is the makeover — and expansion – of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class line-up. All current models, all the way up to the E 53 AMG, get significant exterior revisions. Meanwhile, there is a completely new version, at least for American buyers, the E-Class All-Terrain.
Visually, the biggest changes with the 2021 E-Class are on the exterior, with revised lower grille openings and twin power domes on the hood that make all versions of the midsize mainstay look like they should be badged AMG. The taillights, rear deck lid and bumper add a more cohesive look to the back end, with Mercedes also introduce new colors and wheel designs. LED headlamps are now standard on all models, with Multibeam lamps optional.
Surprisingly, there are few real interior changes, beyond some new upholstery options and a revised steering wheel with smartphone-like capacitive touch sensors to control the infotainment system and other vehicle functions. The twin 12.3-inch digital gauge and infotainment LCD displays are now standard across the line-up, as well.
The E-Class has long been available in a variety of body styles, though not all have made it across the Atlantic. As of this autumn, when the 2021 makeover reaches U.S. showrooms, the line-up will grow to include the All-Terrain model. Those familiar with the Audi All Terrain will quickly recognize the concept. It’s essentially a tall wagon or, if your prefer, a more wagon-esque take on a sport-utility vehicle. It’s a strategy that more than a few automakers are trying, including Volvo, as well as Audi.
Like the updated E-450, the All-Terrain will be powered by a new, mild-hybrid drivetrain, a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six using a 48-volt electric assist system. Paired with a nine-speed automatic, it turns out 363 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. The EQ Boost technology improves Stop/Start function and offers other benefits expected to boost fuel economy.
Oh, and among wagon diehards, don’t worry, the E-Class version will continue being sold in the States even with the arrival of the All-Terrain.
Long skeptical of battery technology, Mercedes is quickly migrating away from diesel power and turning to electric propulsion in all of its many forms. While it has delayed some all-electric models, notably the U.S. introduction of the EQB crossover, the German luxury marque is moving fast in other areas.
While the automaker did not confirm reports that it will offer multiple plug-in hybrid-electric packages on various E-Class models over the second half of this generation, it did debut the new E350e. This PHEV sedan will get a 2.5-liter turbo-four coupled with a 90 kilowatt – or 122 hp – electric motor. Combined, the package produces a solid 315 ponies and 516 pound-feet of instant-on torque.
There will be several other new PHEVs coming to Mercedes showrooms, including versions of the CLA – both coupe and shooting brake – and the GLA crossover. Those models will share a system pairing a 218 hp inline-four with a 75 kw – or 105 hp – electric motor. Torque peaks at 332 pound-feet. Acceleration is brisk, but not rocket-like, with the three models expected to hit 60 in 6.6 seconds.
As for the battery packs and range of the new plug-ins, Mercedes hasn’t released details at all for the E 350e. It does note that, using European test standards, the GLA and CLA PHEVs get as much as 43 miles per charge. Figure that will drop by a third or more in the U.S. – if they eventually make it to the U.S., something not yet locked down.
Expect to see pricing on all these new models later this year.