Step inside the new E-class and the immediate impression is of understated quality. It has precise switchgear and lots of soft-touch plastics although some materials and textures like on the steering boss don’t feel very special. The beige interiors have a shade of brown which is not to our liking; we feel the E-class looks best and classiest with black interiors, which is also an option. The ‘waterfall’ lighting effect which splits the dashboard and the downlighting on the door switchgear looks simply fantastic at night.
The dashboard is upright with angles and straight lines instead of the flowing shape of the previous E-class. Taking pride of place is the high-mounted screen housed in its own binnacle. A single knob lets you scroll through the on-screen menus to operate most functions. The stereo and climate control systems get conventional controls and the mass of tiny buttons that surround them can be quite confusing.
The best news is that Mercedes has finally agreed to give the E-class fully-powered seats. The sound system is beefed up, parking sensors are standard and so are cornering lights. And, of course, safety too is enhanced with more airbags than before and a unique Attention Assist system which detects drowsiness and gives a warning!