Mercedes-Benz will reveal its heavily facelifted E-Class for the first time next week (December 13), before attempting to upstage its German arch-enemy at the Detroit motor show in January, when both the upgraded E-Class and BMW’s facelifted 5 Series will make almost simultaneous global debuts.
In an unprecedented show of strength at Motown, however, Benz will stage the world premiere of not just the revised E-Class sedan, but fresh wagon, coupe, cabriolet and E63 AMG derivatives too.
The full 2013 E-Class line-up – including Australia’s first Mercedes-Benz hybrid - has been confirmed for Australian release next year, with the sedan and Estate due in local showrooms by mid-2013 and the coupe and cabriolet set to join them around September.
Motoring.com.au understands that, like the current C-Class, the latest E-Class range will arrive here with significantly reduced pricetags and/or increased standard equipment levels.
These fresh Carparazzi spy shots of the overhauled E-Class Estate reveal a heavily worked-over front-end, including the bonnet, bumper and upper and lower grilles, while a radical new LED-based take on the E-Class’ trademark quad-beam headlight design was revealed in an official YouTube teaser video two weeks ago.
Expect a new rear bumper and tail-lights too, plus a drastically revised interior including a new dashboard, instruments and steering wheel.
While Peugeot (508 RXH) and Volvo (V60 PHEV) have promised to offer their diesel-electric hybrid technology in Australia, the E300 hybrid is likely to become the first diesel-electric model available here.
Confirmation of Mercedes-Benz Australia’s first hybrid model marks a backflip on the company’s previous position that both the E300 diesel hybrid and the E400 petrol hybrid would offer only marginal efficiency gains over their existing petrol or diesel equivalents, despite a price premium of up to $20,000.
Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific Managing Director Horst von Sanden told motoring.com.au that some E-Class buyers may be prepared to pay extra to be seen to be green.
But he stopped short of admitting the E300 was simply a marketing exercise to keep pace with BMW Australia, which recently introduced 3 and 5 Series hybrid models. Lexus is the luxury hybrid pioneer, and Audi has also committed to releasing the A6 Hybrid here next year.
“If we didn’t think there was a certain demand, we would probably not make the effort,” he said. “Our company globally has decided to offer certain models as hybrid models and, whilst we are still conscious of the fact there might be not a huge demand in Australia, then again we shall give customers an option and maybe we will be surprised that demand is bigger than what we thought.
“We’re not bringing every hybrid model there is, but E-Class we believe is a good start.
“We thought at least we need to have one (hybrid) variant. It’s not our decision to tell people that we believe it’s too expensive. Environmentally conscious people may say ‘I don’t care, I’m prepared to pay a certain premium’.
“We will bring in a few, but mainly we will make it an order base. With the lack of knowledge we have about the potential success of the vehicle, it would be wrong to stock it up like a normal car. So we will be cautious and let it grow into the market rather than pushing it.”
Mercedes Australia says it is still negotiating final pricing with Germany, but indicated the E300’s price premium over the E350 CDI diesel ($136,485) upon which it’s based might not be as much as the $20,000 it previously suggested.
“I’m hopeful we can secure a lesser price premium than was originally indicated,” said Mercedes-Benz Australia Passenger Car Product Manager John Vasilj.
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