Mercedes E-Class W213 interior – inside story by Dr. Ian Kuah about his first hand experience in the sensational cabin of the 2016 E-Class:
The car is literally the third space in many people’s lives after their home and office, so the look, feel, materials, subjective comfort and overall ambience of its cabin are critical issues.
While Mercedes is determined to manifest the ‘modern luxury’ theme throughout their model range, there is a limit to how much can be done in the smaller cars, since even premium products have to be priced sensibly in a competitive marketplace.
Space is another governing factor, and certain design elements can only work in a car of a certain size class due to the immutable rules of scale and proportion. For instance, the big double instrument and infotainment screens in the S-Class simply would not fit into the narrower C-Class, let alone an A-Class, hence the central infotainment screen on those models.
The good news is that the new, more spacious Mercedes E-Class W213 that makes its world premier at the Detroit Show in January is a perceptible step up from the outgoing model, and is large enough to articulate many of the revolutionary cabin design elements first seen on the S-Class.
In fact the new dashboard display that is optionally available with COMAND Online takes the S-Class design to the next level. Covered by a single piece of mineral glass the two 12.3-inch display screens have a native resolution of 1920 x 720 pixels, and are thus noticeably crisper than the 1440 x 540 pixel screens on the S-Class.
Appearing to ‘float’ in front of the dashboard top roll this iPad thin digitally generated dual display contains the instrument pack on the left and infotainment system on the right. Naturally this will be mirror imaged for RHD models.
The choice of functions available with the new system is breath taking, and easily accessed via left and right touch buttons on the perfectly sized new look steering wheel. Scrolling left, right and up and down using these buttons, in conjunction with the clear graphics on the big screen, makes function selection really easy.
One of the drop down menus even allows you to choose between three distinctive instrument display styles; Classic, Sport and the ultra-modern Progressive, with its futuristic 3D appearance. Another menu even allows you to choose from a total of 64 possible hues for the interior backlighting.
3-D Burmester on board of the Mercedes E-Class W213
The new illuminated stop-start button sees the end of the previous choice of key or keyless starting. The central locking buttons are now placed inside the recess for the door release, finally putting to rest the frustrating scramble to find the central locking button that we have all encountered at one time or another.
Even the key fob is a totally fresh design, and features a retractable ring when it is not attached to a keychain so that it will not snag your clothing. This latest keyless entry device, the first redesign since 2004, can be placed in its dedicated receptacle under a sliding cover in the centre console, next to the wireless smart phone charger compartment and cup holders
This new key will be rolled out across the whole Mercedes range with successive new models along with the new design of dashboard mounted start/stop button, which is illuminated with a suitably space age graphic.
The very basic seat was not on show, but we had the opportunity to try out the four optional designs. Named Exclusive, Avantgarde, AMG Sports and Designo, each is comfortable in its own right thanks to varying levels of adjustability.
These new seats each feature a unique leather pattern inspired by fashion or nature, and the different headrest designs. The AMG seat was the most supportive for me, but I preferred the adjustable headrest from the Avantgarde seat. This also has the option of a four-point massage facility in both squab and backrest, with hot stone massage in the backrest.
The three audio systems of the Mercedes E-Class W213 use the Front Bass concept that debuted on the R231 SL Roadster in 2012. Utilising cavities in the cross and side members of the cars structure as the bass cabinet required that the audio system be designed into the car from day one.
The Burmester representative told me that they were brought in three years ago, and worked closely with the Mercedes engineers to ensure that the hardware could be put in the right places, with sufficient time to tune everything to perfection.
As with the S-Class, the mid-range and premium audio systems are from Burmester, and the first version has 13 speakers driven by 590 Watts of amplification.
The Mercedes E-Class W213 test car I auditioned was fitted with the High-End 3D system, which features 23 speakers and 1,450W of music power. Significantly, it uses Burmester’s favoured combination of an analogue pre-amp and digital power amp for a more natural sound.
A CD playing facility is history, music now being purely hard disc or plug-in device based. While DSP has the ability to expand the sound field into the cars interior, it is still electronic trickery. So as in the S-Class, the Burmester High-End 3D system places a speaker in the light fitting above the front screen and two speakers in the roof lining in the centre of the car to give the DSP algorithm a better starting point from which to create a more natural soundstage.
The electronics have moved on in the intervening period, and while the sound in the front is as good as in the S-Class, I felt that the imaging and overall effect in the rear of the cabin was even more coherent.
The user interface allows you to choose from five possible sound effect modes: Pure, Easy Listening, Live, Surround and 3D Sound. Easy Listening is good for long drives when you don’t want the sound to be too aggressive, while Surround uses an algorithm that attempts to recreate the ambience of the room in which the recording was done.
While I am still not sure about the feeling of bass vibrations coming up from the floorboard under my feet, the aural effect is convincing and delivers a more coherent sound field compared to having all the low frequencies generated by a boot mounted sub-woofer. In this system, the boot mounted subwoofer sits in a 25-litre ported enclosure and perfectly reinforces the Front Bass system at a very subtle level.
With high-res audio files the sound quality is truly high-end, with even better sound staging in the rear than in the S-Class. The rendition of Adele’s ‘Hello’ was smooth and mellifluous, her voice floating above the dashboard in front of us with great detail and palpable 3D qualities.
The voices in Fischer’s Missa in Contrapuncto soared in a fine rendition of the spacious hall where this choral work was recorded, while Chris Jones ‘No Sanctuary Here’ plumbed the depths with authority and effortless dynamic range.
With a plethora of stitched leather covering all its cabin surfaces, the new E-Class interior has an aura of upmarket sophistication, underpinned by the option of a world-class audio system with 5.1 capability.
However, that alone is not enough, and it is the modern forms and ergonomic excellence that make the Mercedes E-Class W213 interior really stand out. Mercedes are truly re-imagining their interiors in a way that takes the art of surprise and delight in that ‘third space’ to the next level.
More reviews by Dr. Ian Kuah:
First Ride: BMW 7 Series with B&W Audio
Tracktest McLaren 570S: The fastest B&W speakers on earth
Outstanding 3D sound world at 20,000 watts : Test Ascendo AIA home cinema
Editor’s Note for all English speaking friends of LowBeats
Thanks for visiting LowBeats Magazin. At present it is an all German language site, with just the odd feature and review in English. We are aiming to present much more content in English for our readers – but in the meantime, we invite you to take a look at the few articles listed above or to check out LowBeats in German.
From the team at LowBeats