Design: New and familiar touches: the design idiom of an effortlessly superior character

Mar 3, 2009
  • Twin-headlamp face: surprising new take on a hallmark E-Class theme
  • Rear wings: reminiscence to the "three-box-body Mercedes" of 1953
  • Interior: premium quality for relaxation and wellbeing
  • Trim elements: luxurious range of fine woods and aluminium
The new E-Class points the way ahead. An executive saloon whose design positively exudes status. New lines make the car appear even more effortlessly superior and imposing than before, lending it added masculinity. A strong yet familiar character that clearly originates from good stock. The identity features are unequivocal: the louvre structure of the radiator grille is classic Mercedes, while the twin-headlamp face has been a characteristic E-Class hallmark for 14 years now.
Nevertheless, even with these familiar styling elements, the design idiom remains vibrant and fits in perfectly with the Saloon's more striking appearance: housed in a three-dimensionally shaped chrome frame, the radiator grille radiates presence by virtue of its dynamic V-shape and is also far more steeply raked than previously, allowing the new E-Class to emphasise its status without being brash; understatement is and will remain the style of this model series.
Once again the E-Class is seen "with new eyes": the headlamps – previously always oval in shape - have been given a more progressive slant by the Mercedes designers, drawing inspiration from cubism and its beguiling geometric forms. As a consequence, they look like gemstones that have been cut from the car's wings with unerring precision. The result is an all-new look – surprising yet unmistakable. Classic E-Class.
Like the headlamps, the bumper blends perfectly into the car's body, completing the harmonious overall impression of the front section – as if the design were cast from a single mould. The dynamic lines that flow outwards, the distinctively shaped spoiler edges in the lower area and the bumper's broad air intake emphasise the Saloon's effortlessly superior aura, making it appear even wider and more athletic than before.
As always, these and other styling elements also enhance the profile of each of the individual lines, helping to accentuate their unique character. Hence the AVANTGARDE line features a front bumper with a sporty design, which looks wider and more athletic than that of the ELEGANCE line on account of the large lower air intake boasting a black painted grille with diamond-shaped perforations typical of a sports car. This impression is reinforced by the LED daytime driving lights, which are integrated in an attractively styled crossmember; these lights are standard equipment for the AVANTGARDE model, as is the Intelligent Light System with bi-xenon headlamps.
Another feature which makes for clear demarcation between each of the lines is the chromed radiator grille: the grille at the front of the AVANTGARDE model sports a unique look on account of its three high-gloss black louvres, while the design used for the ELEGANCE line stands out by virtue of its four louvres painted in metallic silver. The standard model as a radiator grille with three
louvres in stone grey.
Design philosophy: effortless superiority, forwards thrust and sensuality
The slick interplay between lines and surfaces is a key trademark of contemporary Mercedes design. Large, concave or convex surfaces are given structure by taut, clearly defined lines. These lines emerge from the surfaces organically before flowing back into them equally seamlessly. They play with light and shade effectively, creating a range of contrasts whilst also making the body appear longer.
Perhaps the most alluring aspect of this design is its clarity and tranquillity. The focus is on the essentials: the pureness of the forms. There are no needless flourishes, no over-exaggerated trims, no formal over-indulgences. Instead, there is an overriding feeling of serenity, suggesting inner strength and effortless superiority.
The Mercedes designers have perfected this design concept right down to the last detail for the new E-Class. The lines of the side section become linking elements which influence the entire body design. In other words, the front and rear as well as the flanks. By way of example, the character line emerges from the muscular form of the front bumper and, from here, rises continuously rearwards to emphasise the dynamic wedge shape of the body. Above this on each side runs the shoulder line, formed by the bonnet's joint, which lends the headlamp structure and spans the entire flank, culminating at the luggage compartment, where it gives the appearance of supporting the C-pillar.
Sitting proudly atop the tranquil surfaces and dynamic lines of the side sections, the roof emerges from the A-pillars – which themselves sweep majestically into the wings – and rises smoothly rearwards to lend the Saloon an even greater sense of forwards thrust. The message is unambiguous: this Saloon was designed to forge ahead.
Rear wings: a long-standing tradition still very much alive
The captivating lines of the side section culminate in a new styling element at the rear end, symbolising a further attribute of Mercedes design: a blend of tradition and innovation, of continuity and progress.
The E-Class model tradition stretching back more than six decades is mirrored in the design of the rear wings: the powerful line which spans the rear wheel arch and gives the physical, muscular form of the rear wing a distinctive contour harks back to the famous "Ponton" (three-box-body) Mercedes. This precursor to the E‑Class from 1953 boasted a similarly expressive anatomy, lending it a robust character – a symbolic feature and hallmark of the E-Class. And living proof of how this model series draws together the past and the future in perfect harmony. Keeping a long-standing tradition very much alive.
Like the shoulder line and character line, the striking line contour of the rear wing performs an integrating function, bringing together the side section and the rear end, since the line running above the rear wheel arch abuts the tail light which, for its part, is drawn deeply into the car's flank and continues the flow of the line seamlessly at the rear end. The result is a harmonious overall picture – a composition of high aesthetic quality.
Rear end: power and passion
Like the front end, the rear section of the new E-Class emphasises the breadth of the body, thus lending it powerful shape. The taut, well-defined edge of the boot lid, the chromed handle and the bumper covering integrated perfectly into the body are the key elements that create this stylistic impression of width.
The tail lights with their classic Mercedes horizontal look really catch the eye –especially in the case of the light clusters specified as standard for the AVANTGARDE model, featuring LEDs for all the tail-light and indicator functions. A special technique is used make the LED units, which are activated in darkness, stand out from the hazily illuminated background so that they appear to be hovering in the reflector. The tail lights therefore produce a classic night design which makes the new E-Class unmistakable when viewed from the rear in darkness.
Interior: hallmark Mercedes luxury
Displaying the attention to detail for which Mercedes is renowned, the designers have made each individual element of the interior a beautiful piece in its own right. A piece whose form, colour and material arouse the senses and, moreover, a piece that does its job perfectly. This stylish symbiosis of technology and aesthetics never ceases to captivate, ensuring that the emotions experienced during the first encounter are just as vivid as those felt during the second, third, fourth…
The designers have gone to great lengths to mirror the design idiom of the exterior in the interior and, in so doing, create holistic harmony. By way of example, the wide look of the body design is reflected in the horizontally oriented lines of the dashboard, emphasising the pleasant feeling of spaciousness on board the
E-Class.
This overriding impression of width is predominantly down to the distinctive fine-wood or refined aluminium trim and the precisely integrated ventilation outlets. Thanks to the seamless continuation of form and material between the dashboard and the door panels, the trim elements cocoon the driver and front passenger, giving them a feeling of reassurance. There is no doubt that that interior of the E‑Class is a space designed to promote wellbeing - an exclusively appointed home in which two aspects matter above all: comfort and relaxation.
As well as being based on an elaborate composition of beguiling forms, fine materials and attractive colours, the high-quality interior of the E-Class is characterised by a further key design element: light. The interior of the ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE models features discreet yet effective lighting: thin optical fibres located behind the trim elements on the dashboard and above the door centre panels create a harmonious band of light running around the inside of the car, ensuring that the feeling of high quality and interior space can be experienced at night as well as during the day.
In this sense, the new E-Class fulfils a desire expressed by many people – for security, enjoyment and aesthetics – that has lead to the development of a new lifestyle in recent years: a new living and motoring culture. The aim is to achieve tranquillity and wellbeing. And to delight in the finer things in life which offer both exceptional comfort and outstanding practicality.
Materials: nature in its purest form
This "welcome-home" feeling is achieved primarily thanks to the use of materials of natural origin - wood and leather. There are a total of four handcrafted wood trims to choose from for the new Mercedes Saloon:
  • Standard appointments High-sheen eucalyptus
  • ELEGANCE High-sheen burr walnut in brown or optional open-pore ash in brown
  • AVANTGARDE High-sheen ash in black
The new, open-pore finish makes the wood trim appear extremely authentic, bringing a piece of practically unaltered nature into the interior of the E-Class.
Those who attach greater importance to sportiness and modernity can opt for high-quality aluminium in place of fine wood. In the standard model, Mercedes‑Benz offers the metal with an embossed surface, while the AVANTGARDE line features the option of aluminium trim elements with a brushed surface.
The wood or aluminium appointments in the E-Class Saloon are made all the more lavish, since the large trim elements on the dashboard and the door linings are accompanied by a second trim level which further enhances the front section of the centre console and the armrests in the doors. In addition to this, the controls for the automatic climate control system fitted as standard in the ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE models are embedded in fine wood.
Leather is the second natural material used to enhance the feeling of wellbeing on board. Even the standard version of the new E-Class features a multifunction steering wheel and a shift/selector lever trimmed in fine nappa leather. Leather seats are available as optional extras and, if the Exclusive package is ordered, the seats, armrests and door centre panels are trimmed in fine nappa leather.
Centre console: large stowage compartments and soft handrest
If the E-Class is ordered with the seven-speed automatic transmission and DIRECT SELECT gearshift on the steering column, the shift/selector lever usually found on the centre console is replaced by a closable stowage compartment with a wood-trimmed sliding cover or a double cup holder suitable for various cups, cans or bottles with a diameter of up to 82 millimetres. The control panel incur-porating the controller and further buttons is located behind this. The soft handrest, featuring indirect lighting in the ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE models, makes the controller extremely easy to operate and also serves as an opener for the spacious stowage compartment between the front seats, which has a capacity of around five litres and, as an option, can house the mobile-phone cradle.
Models equipped with the six-speed manual transmission or five-speed automatic transmission feature an asymmetrically split armrest which protrudes further forwards on the driver's side, serving as a practical handrest for operating the controller. Behind this is the large stowage compartment, while a further compartment, which can optionally be used as a double cup holder, is concealed beneath the retractable cover on the right-hand side of the centre console.
Colour concept: feel-good factor as standard
Inside the new E-Class, the welcoming interior appointments are finished in pleasant colours. The Mercedes designers have compiled a wide range of colours and colour combinations for the various lines and materials:
  • Standard appointments black or black/alpaca grey
  • ELEGANCE black or reef grey/alpaca grey
  • AVANTGARDE black or black/alpaca grey
  • AMG Sports package black
If leather appointments are specified, the range of colours and colour combinations available for personalising the interior is even wider:
  • Standard appointments black or reef grey/alpaca grey
  • ELEGANCE mocha brown/almond beige or reef grey/alpaca grey or black
  • AVANTGARDE black/almond beige or black/chestnut brown or black/natural beige or black/alpaca grey or black
Mercedes-Benz offers a choice of twelve different paint colours for the body of the new E-Class.
Cockpit: sporty or elegant
Likewise, the instrument cluster reflects the different characters of the lines: the standard model and the ELEGANCE line have circular instruments with chrome surrounds, white illumination and a black background. In the AVANTGARDE cockpit, meanwhile, the instruments feature a matt-silver painted background and deep, slanting tubes, giving them a sporty, elegant aura. Fine chrome rings on the faces underline the high-quality impression of both cockpit variants.
Control concept: a perfect blend of form and function
Fewer switches but more functions. A simple way of expressing the basic principle behind the controls in modern-day cars. The controller on the centre tunnel in the new E-Class puts a whole range of functions at the driver's fingertips. It is linked to the large colour display on the dashboard and allows operation of the navigation system, car radio, telephone, DVD player and other components of the infotainment system. For other functions, Mercedes-Benz has developed hotkeys which are located alongside the controller, on the centre console and in the door panels. The twelve-button multifunction steering wheel is another main protagonist of the sophisticated control and display concept (also see page 79).
Controllers, buttons, dials and displays are key interfaces between the driver and the car. As well as being simple, precise and intuitive, they need to be a pleasure to use and stir the emotions. This is why both looks and feel were top priorities when the Mercedes designers came to design the controls for the new E-Class. The exquisite integration of the switches and buttons into the interior design concept was just as important as the pleasant feeling of touching the control surfaces or the soft "click" heard when pressing the buttons.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class, design
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Mercedes-Benz E-Class, design
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Mercedes-Benz E-Class, design
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With typical Mercedes attention to detail, the designers have also given great attention to the interior of the new E-Class, ensuring that every feature appeals in both emotional and functional terms with its form, colour or material.
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With typical Mercedes attention to detail, the designers have also given great attention to the interior of the new E-Class, ensuring that every feature appeals in both emotional and functional terms with its form, colour or material.
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Mercedes-Benz E-Class, design
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