Mercedes-Benz is chasing every niche in the market. A few years ago, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche revealed in a group interview that the then-14 model lines were quite sufficient and adding more vehicles was not a top priority. Today, we stand at more than 20 body variations, and that doesn’t include Smart or the moribund Maybach. But that's not nearly enough, it seems. Intelligence tells us that more cars are around the corner. Mercedes aims to add two-door and coupe variants, as well as sporty four-doors like the CLA.
The case for these derivatives is compelling. The CLS, which is a reskinned E-class, commands far higher retail prices than the E, while it needs only a few more hours in production—mainly to align the frameless windows. And the success of the BMW X6—an SUV as polarizing as they get—has further convinced Zetsche and Thomas Weber's troops that they are missing out on something. We will see a lot more derivatives in the future, but even more important, Mercedes also is putting a strong emphasis on improving its mainstream models.
Once the ultimate luxury sedan, the S-class has to defend its crown against constantly evolving and improving threats posed by Audi, BMW, and Lexus. Styled in an evolutionary manner,
Under the hood, the same ultra-low-consumption four-cylinder OM651 diesel will be available in other markets, but not here. The S-class’s 3.0-liter V-6 turbo-diesel, its twin-turbo 4.7-liter V-8, its twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-12, and its 3.5-liter V-6–based hybrid powertrains all should remain unchanged. Performance subsidiary AMG will offer a 5.5-liter V-8 and a 6.0-liter V-12, both twin-turbocharged and capable of more than 185 mph.
The E-class suffers from its over-the-top, Cadillac-like styling, and the upcoming face lift will soften the most jarring lines of the current model. While maintaining a marked distance to the simplicity of the Bruno Sacco era, the face-lifted E-class will be easier on the eye both inside and out. The quad headlights, first seen in 1995 and subsequently distorted, will be abandoned in practice, but not in theory—daytime running lights carry on the heritage of the four eyes.