Though it's still over a year away from a world introduction, our spies have garnered details on the next Mercedes E‑Class, code-named W212 and due at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show.
The next E‑Class will ape the S-Class’s wheel-arch extensions, rising character line below the door handles, massive bumpers, and greenhouse. A more sculpted wide-frame grille, the more geometric nasal air intakes, and the wedge-shaped profile should give W212 a sportier stance. Actually, early styling models show a certain affinity for the most recent efforts from Lexus – such as the rectangular quad headlamps, the C-pillar treatment, and the taillights. This is, of course, ironic given that the Lexus LS is famous for copying Mercedes, but Stuttgart still has plenty of time to hone the shape. (You can see more of these spy photos in our high-resolution photo galleries.)
Driver assistance in general is a major theme for W212. Expect lane-departure warnings, an eye-movement monitor, traffic-sign identification, road-condition sensors, and stability control that accounts for crosswinds, camber changes, and tire wear. However, Mercedes will abandon electronic braking in favor of conventional brakes, although they will boast features such as wet-weather disc wiping and wheel-selective cornering brake control, as well as the usual anti-lock control. Optional ceramic-composite discs could be introduced top-down, starting with the AMG models.
We’ll get the usual V-6- and V-8 engines, plus a normally aspirated, 500-plus-hp 6.3-liter V-8 for the E63 AMG model.--Brenda Priddy