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STYLING | 8 out of 10
Iconic style and a hood ornament that commands respect from the apres-ski club valets: Standard.
Even the chiseled "haunch" line is gone from the rear bodyside – the sort of sheetmetal change you almost never see on a mid-cycle update.
With additions where it counts - a sinuous, air-slurping front end - and the tasteful subtraction of the clumsy pontoon rear fender, Mercedes' oft-criticized sedan styling language is suddenly speaking sexy.
has a cabin done in a style that is meant to recall solid, dependable Mercedes from the past
With so many variations among the different body styles, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class still manages to assemble a family look for all its citizens. It's a look that works more effectively on the dramatically styled two-doors than it does on the traditional four-door sedan.
In the two-doors--the Coupe and Cabriolet--the refresh essentially takes the existing profile and carves out quite a bit more personality, with some bolder, fresher details. Most notable is how the dual headlamps have been merged together to one unit, with bright LED lightbars now visually separating them and functioning as running lamps. Sharper, more creased lower bodywork looks both sportier overall and better with the bodyside creases. And in back there's a fresh LED taillamp design.
For the first time, the E-Class adopts the Sport and Luxury themes the C-Class has had for years--you can opt for the Luxury's three-bar grille, or the Sport's plate-sized star logo embedded in a twin-louver grille, and its AMG-style trim. Bigger air intakes are faired in below on either version, but almost all the worry lines have been abraded from the front end. It's pretty and elegant, the way all E-Class cars used to be, before the detour into goggle-eye lamps.Further back, the E-Class sedan also unloads its flared, Ponton-like rear fenders, going for a sleeker look with lower side trim that elongates the car--the preferred shortcut to "elegant." The treatment applies nicely to Coupe models, which have a graceful roofline that visually lowers the car, but it doesn't work nearly as well in Cabriolet models, where we tended to think that with the roof up the more pert roofline stretches the proportions oddly upward. Power the top down and the E Cabrio fits gracefully back in, though.
The high-performance E63 AMG is easy to pick out from a distance, thanks to its unique wheels and special lower-body aerodynamic treatment (plus an upgraded interior).
Compared to the previous generation of the E-Class, the interior of the current car feels a little more conservative, yet also modernist and less curvaceous than some of the automaker's other efforts. Sharp corners and well-pressed creases inside give the Mercedes-Benz E-Class a more traditionally luxurious look that meshes well with the new exterior.
About the only thing that isn't so welcoming is the sea of matte-plastic buttons for audio and climate controls--in addition to the COMAND interface that covers infotainment through a big roller knob and a large LCD screen.
All models include wood, metal, and refined plastic trims, which you can further dress up through a long list of customization options aside from the stock choices of burl walnut or black ash. The final bit of jewelry: a tank-style analog clock on the dash.
The E-Class doesn't look so worried anymore, with the tension taken out of its front end and rear fenders.