“This is the most important launch for Mercedes-Benz this year,” Bernie Glaser, general manger of product management at Mercedes-Benz USA, explains as he details the features of the new 2010 E-Class sedan and coupe. “Everything we know and are went into the development of this ninth-generation E-Class.”
Making a car lighter yet stronger requires a materially different approach to structural engineering. Mercedes engineers managed to reduce the weight of the E-Class body-in-white by as much as 20 lb. by using 47% more high- and ultra high-strength steels. Several under-floor panels and reinforcements around the bumpers and springs are constructed from ultra-high strength steels that have specially developed microstructures to handle high loads. The roof pillar and B-pillar are also made from this specially designed steel. Mercedes says it plans to continue to expand use of HSS and UHSS in the future because, as opposed to aluminum, less material is required to obtain maximum crash performance, reducing overall cost.
In the past, Mercedes offered the E-Class in sedan and wagon body styles. The company also offered the CLK as the coupe and convertible choices that were similar in size to the E, although both of the cars used the C-Class platform for their underpinnings. With this ninth-generation E-Class, the company threw out the old model plan and replaced with a true family of variants—sedan, coupe, wagon and convertible—all based off the E-Class platform; all models will also carry the E-Class brand designation. The sedan has grown from its predecessor: 1.25-in. wider and 0.625-in. longer, while the coupe is 1.8-in. wider and 1.9-in. longer than the outgoing CLK. Designers made an extra effort to differentiate the coupe from the sedan by using more exaggerated body lines, particularly the line that flows over the rear wheel. To maintain a certain amount of connection with the CLK, engineers kept the B-pillar-less design to give the coupe a more open-air feel.
The base 3.5-liter engine is shared with a number of other Mercedes models (the GLK, M- and R-Class); it produces 268 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. The up-level 5.5-liter V8—shared with the S-Class, among others—produces 382 hp and 391 lb.-ft. of torque and features variable intake and exhaust valve timing within an operating range of 40o using electro-hydraulic, vane-type adjusters located at the end of each camshaft, resulting in reduced exhaust emissions and improved fuel economy. A two-stage magnesium intake manifold contributes to the engine’s broad torque curve—between 2,800 and 4,800 rpm—by closing off short intake passages during low engine speeds, forcing the intake air to take a longer route into the engine, creating pressure waves. At speeds above 3,500 rpm, the flaps open and intake air flows the shortest distance to the combustion chamber, producing greater horsepower at higher speeds.