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Car and Driver: E-longated: New Mercedes-Benz E-class Gets LWB Version for China


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Built in China and made for China: The long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz E-class caters to the specific needs of the Far East, where traffic is so bad that many folks prefer to retreat to the back seat instead of driving on their own.


The preferences of China have turned out to be a challenge for Western carmakers. Previously, they focused on the driver and front passenger, with this “compartmentalization” in the interest of cost meaning that the rear seat played second fiddle. But in China, comfort in the rear seats is paramount. That’s why European and American carmakers have decided offer long-wheelbase versions of their most popular sedans, with plenty of amenities in the rear.


A lot of these variants seem to be little more than afterthoughts. Simply adding wheelbase and elongating the rear window may bring about the desired space, but they make for awkward proportions. Actually, they make many of the cars look like dachshunds. But Mercedes did a little more work to create the long-wheelbase E-class that launches at the Beijing auto show. It not only elongated the car and the wheelbase by 5.5 inches, it also changed the roofline and stretched the side windows into the C-pillars, which get artsy trim.




There is one other Daimler model that features a similar roofline and side window opening: the Mercedes-Maybach S-class. The new look works spectacularly well on this long-wheelbase E-class, and if Daimler ever decided to take the Maybach brand downmarket—which they won’t—this would be the way it would go. The long-wheelbase E-class will be available with four- and six-cylinder engines.


The long-wheelbase E-class pays special attention to the rear passengers beyond offering more space. All versions get a central armrest with lighted storage and a USB port, and elbows and hands can be further delighted with optional extras such as a heated armrest surface, wireless device charging capability, a touchscreen display with access to the COMAND infotainment system, and a heated/cooled cupholder. Available both with classic and sporty grilles, the long-wheelbase E-class is anything but an afterthought, and we wonder whether it could be successful beyond the Chinese market.




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