PORTLAND, Ore -- With competition growing in the mid-sized luxury car segment, Mercedes-Benz decided to do a major midcycle overhaul of the E-class range rather than wait three years for the next generation.
"It is a very competitive segment," said Bart Herring, general manager of product planning for Mercedes-Benz USA. "We wanted to stay out front from a technological and design perspective. We had to go beyond what is typical for a midcycle change."
BMW's 5 series is the traditional rival of the E class, but competition also comes from the Lexus GS, Audi A6, Infiniti M, Jaguar XF and Cadillac CTS. Hyundai has entered the segment with the Equus, and Herring said the E class also competes with similar-sized crossovers.
The E-class range includes a sedan, station wagon, coupe and convertible. Mercedes added the E400 Hybrid, updated the engine in the E250 BlueTEC diesel and now offers that model with optional all-wheel drive. The E63 high performance AMG sedan and station wagon have been added.
Mercedes brought all of the models to a full-line preview for journalists here in August. The rollout started in April with the re-engineered sedan and wagon, followed by the coupe and convertible in June.
The diesel cars go on sale this month. The E250 BlueTEC diesel models have a new four-cylinder turbocharged 2.1-liter engine that makes 195 hp and 369 pounds-feet of torque.