On some cars, a mid-life face-lift can be so subtle that you're hard pressed to tell the difference between new and old, but the 2013 E-Class has had a thorough transformation.
The front, sides, bonnet and rear have all had a serious redesign, with the roof, front doors and the window lines the only parts to escape the change. Even a casual observer will notice the biggest revamps, which will apply to both bodystyles of the E-Class. Gone are the two square and separated front lights on either side of the grille, and in their place is a pair of much sleeker light clusters.
As well as the lights, the E-Class also gets a new front grille and a reshaped bonnet. The five-sided, three barred grille has been replaced by a smoother, two-barred nose that is intended to resemble the SL sports car's.
The UK will get just one trim level – Avantgarde – but customers will have the opportunity to subtly alter the front end of their car by picking the AMG Sports Pack. This offers a redesigned lower section of the bumper, and a honeycomb pattern to the grille.
Round the side of the E-Class, the AMG pack also brings slightly wider sills. The most noticeable change to the side of all versions of the car is the removal of the curved line that went around the rear wheel. Instead, Mercedes has added a straight line that starts on the rear door and extends into the tail-light.
The changes at the back are less drastic, with the rear lights remaining the same shape but getting a mild redesign and updated LED technology. The lower bumper section features more chrome detailing than before, while there are now two exhaust pipes rather than one.
The daytime running lights were LEDs before, but instead of using a string of individual LEDs, creating a dotted effect, the new E-Class uses a tube with a light source at either end to create a solid band of light.
The new headlights are styled in the same ‘eyebrow' shape as those on the new - and B-Class, and Mercedes says this theme will extend across its range of cars.
They will come with a system called Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus, which will allow the driver to leave them on full beam permanently. A forward-facing camera will register an oncoming or leading car, and mask out the beam to ensure the other driver doesn't get dazzled.
What engines will the 2013 E-Class get?
As well as the visual and specification alterations, the E-Class also gets a pair of new four-cylinder petrol engines.
The 181bhp E200 and 208bhp E250 both emit 135g/km of CO2 and do an average of 48.7mpg when paired with Mercedes' seven-speed automatic gearbox. The E250 is marginally quicker to 62mph, taking 7.4 seconds compared with the E200's 7.9. An E400 six-cylinder petrol will be available from June, while the AMG model can be ordered in January.
The diesel engines include an E200 CDI, E220 CDI, E250 CDI and an E350 Bluetec. The final engine at launch will be the E300 Bluetec Hybrid, which emits just 107g/km and returns 69.0mpg in the saloon version.
What's the 2013 E-Class like inside?
The E-Class gets a subtle tweak inside, with only the dashboard on the passenger side getting a noticeable redesign. There are big changes to the equipment list, though; lots of safety kit destined for the new S-Class is making its debut on the E-Class.
A selection of new sensors that use radar, cameras and ultrasonic technology are able to read the road and conditions around the E-Class. A forward-facing radar sensor, as part of a Collision Prevention Assist system, comes as standard and applies the brakes in the event of an impending crash.
An enhanced Attention Assist system is also standard, which warns the driver when they are showing signs of fatigue. Mercedes says the system can be adjusted to kick in earlier when a driver is tired.
What other new safety equipment does the 2013 E-Class get?
Other, optional, safety kit includes Distronic Plus with Steering Assist that will keep the car centred in its lane in traffic, while Pre-Safe Brake can detect pedestrians and brake to avoid a collision at up to 30mph.
Pre-Safe Plus senses when a car is approaching too fast and first warns them by flashing the hazard warning lights, and then braces by applying the brakes and tensing the seatbelts to lessen whiplash.
As well as safety, the new cameras and sensors can also read road signs, such as speed-limit, no-overtaking and no-entry signs.
The face-lifted E-Class will make its debut at the Detroit motor show in January, and customers will get their cars in April 2013. Prices are expected to rise slightly to reflect the increase in equipment over the current car's.
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