Mercedes has been doing particularly well in the Chinese market for years, and for this year to be an exception is not what they hope. That’s why under the BAIC-Mercedes joint venture, the China-only E-Class LWB has been revealed at the 2016 Beijing Motorshow.
This, to the Chinese, is better than the regular E-Class because for senior management types it’s not the car you drive that’s the most important. It’s the car you’re driven in. This is why even the C-Class has a LWB guise specifically to cater for Chinese tastes. It’s a method to express one’s wealth without having the excessive cost and bulk of the high-end S-Class.
The E-Class LWB is 14 cm longer than the standard E-Class which frees up no less than 13.8 cm of rear legroom. To put that into perspective, the total length of this new limo is just 5.3 cm off a standard S-Class.
The LED headlights and dual 12-inch displays remain key attributes of the E-Class LWB, however it’s the rear seating that’s been improved upon. The standard central rear armrest incorporates cup holders and a USB port, however Chinese buyers will be able to upgrade this for wireless charging technology and a mini touchscreen to control Mercedes’ COMAND infotainment system.
An LED ambient lighting system will offer a choice of 64 colours, whilst the new C-pillar windows will help give the E-Class LWB a more airy atmosphere.
The standard array of safety technologies will also be offered, including active braking for city speeds, attention assist and the closest to autonomous driving that we can get right now – a self-steering cruise control system for speeds of up to 80 mph. There’s even a BMW 7 Series-esque mobile app which will park the car.
The UK market has been waving goodbye to the sophisticated grille and upright Mercedes emblem for a few years in favour of a more sporty grille with a larger, bolder Mercedes badge. In China, however, both have been available and will continue to be offered for the same price.
The previous generation E-Class LWB was available in E 180, E 200, E 260, E 320, E 400 Hybrid and E 400 4MATIC guises, with the higher powered engines using thirsty V6 engines, however sources suggest that the E 200 and E 320 4MATIC could arrive first for this new generation. All models will come with the smooth-shifting 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission.
There has been no word on pricing or availability. However the previous generation started at a little over £42,000.