Mercedes was caught testing restyled E-Class prototypes that look like they’re hiding new front and rear fascias. It also appears that most of the work will be done on the front end, which is covered by the heaviest camouflage, although there are other details hidden as well.

The current E-Class, the fifth generation of the nameplate, was launched in 2016 and it is due for a refresh next year. Most changes will be done to the styling, to better reflect Mercedes’ new design language that was originally showcased on the new A-Class and CLS. The updated E-Class is expected to experience an extra infusion of tech as well.

No changes will likely be made to the engine range since the Mercedes started selling the E-Class with its new generation of four-cylinder and straight-six diesel engines, both of which make up the bulk of sales in major markets such as Europe.

Update 01/22/2019: The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is due for a mild facelift, and it should be coming in 2020. It’s only been about a month since we last laid eyes on the pre-production prototype, but we’re getting another look at it. There aren’t any real changes in terms of what we can see on the outside, however, we do get a decent look at the interior, and there are some minor things that we can spot. Check out our spy shots section below for all the details.

Spy Shots

January 22, 2019 – Second Testing Session, Revised Interior

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2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
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As you can see, this prototype is actually wearing a little more camo than the last one had. This could mean that there are more changes in store that we haven’t anticipated, or it could simply mean that the guy responsible for camo was a little more vigilant. What’s more important is the view we have of the interior. Again, not much has changed, but you’ll notice that the controller on the center console is now thinner, wider, and sleeker. The center console has changed a bit. The buttons look a little more intuitive, and the trim on the top of the console has been trimmed down a bit. All other controls, and even the HVAC vents, all appear to carry over. The big change inside is the revised steering wheel. This wheel has a new, round hub that’s sportier and less GM-ish than that of the pre-facelift model. The spokes are now slanted just a bit and feature new buttons. And, thanks to that smaller center hub, the spokes are also longer and help improve the overall sporty ambiance of the interior.

October 12, 2018- First Testing Session Under Mild Camo

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2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
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2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Exterior

2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
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Mercedes will likely change the E-Class’ headlights to bring them in line with its latest models, so they will probably be slimmed down and be given a more aggressive slant.

In fact, judging by the shape of the LED daytime running lights that are visible through the camouflage, the headlights will look a lot like those of the four-door AMG GT model.

The shape of the grille will be changed as well, but Mercedes specifically covered up the corners of the grille so we can’t tell exactly what its shape is - it will be similar to that of the new A-Class and CLS (or the new GLE SUV), but each of those cars have their own interpretation of the design, and the E-Class will also differ slightly.

Down the sides, neither of the prototypes (both of which are the load-lugging wagon) spotted by our spies seem to have any camouflage, a clear indication that nothing will change here with the facelift, although new wheel designs may be added to keep things feeling fresh.

2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
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The rear lights, however, are camouflaged on one of the prototypes (the white one), but it’s very hard to tell how the design will change due to the heavy camo used.

They could be made to look similar to those of the new GLE, although Mercedes may not change their overall shape and just alter the clusters’ inner design.

Aside from this, the bumper with fake exhausts is still (sadly) present, even after pretty much every journalist that have tested the car complained that it is quite a ridiculous design feature that should be abolished as soon as possible. However, the prototypes may not show the complete final look of the restyled E-Class, and a new, more honest bumper might make an appearance on the production model.

2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Interior

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
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We didn’t really get a good look at the interior of the prototypes, but we don’t expect much to change at all - the E-Class already has one of the best and most luxurious feeling interiors in its class.

Mercedes will put its new MBUX infotainment system in the refreshed model, complete with its new control method.

MBUX debuted on the new A-Class, then on the GLE, and it is a significantly better infotainment system than what Mercedes previously used - the older system looked quite old fashioned compared to what rivals like BMW and Audi were offering. MBUX’s big features are its ability to “learn” via artificial intelligence, a much-improved user interface, the possibility of over-the-air updates as well as new and improved voice control that you don’t even have to press a button to activate - you just say “Hey, Mercedes!” and then say your command.

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class High Resolution Interior
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The U.S. lineup now includes a 3.0-liter that’s good for 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque and 4.0-liter that delivers 463 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque.

The steering wheel will definitely be changed and the E-Class will be offered with the same wheel as the S-Class, which has since trickled down the range to pretty much all new models on offer - even the A-Class has a version of it. Mercedes added small touch-sensitive panels on it, allowing the driver to swipe through menus without having to take their hands off the steering wheel.

Aside from these, we only expect minor material, trim and switchgear changes inside.

2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Drivetrain

2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
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In Europe, Mercedes first offered the E-Class with its older four- and six-cylinder diesel engines (the top sellers on the Old Continent), but after about a year on the market it completely changed all of its oil burners. A new lower-displacement four-cylinder was offered and the old V-6 diesel was replaced by a supremely smooth straight-six available in two states of tune.

In the States, the same two non-AMG engines will carry on unchanged - the E300 four-cylinder turbo and the E450 twin-turbo six-cylinder.

The stepping stone model to the AMG range, the E53 with mild hybrid tech, will be maintained and the full-bore AMG models’ engines won’t be changed either.

In Europe, there’s also a base E200 model that is offered with a four-pot turbo, and it too will be kept unchanged. It can still be ordered with a six-speed manual gearbox, but all other E-Class models are exclusively available with a nine-speed automatic transmission and some have the option of all-wheel drive.

2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Prices

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European buyers can pick a new E-Class up from just over €45,000, the price of a base E200 with no extras. In the U.S., the cheapest model on offer, the E300, starts from $54,000. The facelift is not expected to significantly affect pricing.

2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Competition

BMW 5-Series

2017 BMW 5 Series
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BMW launched its fifth-generation 5-Series in 2017, so the model is slightly newer than the Mercedes and it’s a hard car to fault. It looks very good from all angles (especially if you opt for a model higher in the range, like the M550d I recently tested) and its interior is a huge improvement on the old 5-Series.

It is based on the same modular architecture as the larger 7-Series and it’s big enough that you may confuse it with its larger brother. Inside the 5-Series there is ample room for five adults and there really isn’t a rival that could surpass it - the E-Class feels just a bit more special to be in, but some may not like its style and prefer the look and feel of the 5-Series.

The 5-Series also drives very well, even if it’s quite a big and heavy car now, and while it certainly doesn’t live up to BMW’s old motto (“The ultimate driving machine”), it’s certainly one of the better handling cars in its size bracket.

Read our full review on the 2017 BMW 5-Series.

Audi A6

2016 - 2018 Audi A6 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Audi’s A6 is probably the most technologically advanced vehicle in its class. Its interior also has the best quality interior at its price point and rare features like haptic feedback for its touchscreens or fancy door handles that electronically pop the doors open without much effort.

The A6 is all about its interior which is nowhere near as old-world-luxurious as that of the E-Class; it instead has a whiff of the future about it which no rival can match and Mercedes has its work cut out if it wants to match it with this E-Class facelift.

It doesn’t drive as well as you’d think watching Audi’s promotional videos and reading their official blurbs. It’s not very inspiring from behind the wheel, so even if it’s not a fully-fledged flagship sedan, it is more of a car to be chauffeured in instead of doing the driving yourself.

Read our full review on the 2018 Audi A6

Lexus GS

2016 Lexus GS High Resolution Exterior
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Lexus doesn’t really have a big seller on its hands with the current GS, a model that despite its low sales numbers is actually quite talented and pleasant to live with. It’s not as immediately enticing as its rivals, but it certainly isn’t lacking for talent.

It is a supremely comfortable automobile with excellent fit and finish quality and a design that will age well. The current model, the fourth-generation GS, was launched way back in 2011 and you can really tell by looking at its interior that it is way behind its rivals.

The automaker gave the model a major overhaul in 2015, but since it wasn’t a new model, its older roots still showed. But, that’s not to say it’s not a good car and worthy of consideration in the segment, especially if you’re looking for a hybrid.

Read our full review on the 2016 Lexus GS.

Genesis G80

2017 Genesis G80 High Resolution Exterior
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The newest and most unfamiliar name on this list of E-Class competitors is the Genesis G80, a model whose predecessor was called the Hyundai Genesis. Now it’s the middle sedan offering of the new Genesis brand, and since there is eagerness within the company to stand out and sell cars, they put a lot of effort into the G80 and actually made it quite attractive.

Firstly, it is extremely comfortable, even by high-class standards, munching miles with the best of them. Its exterior and interior are both okay compared to rivals, but it is not exceptional in either area.

What makes the G80 more relevant is its value for the money, since you can pick a fully loaded one up for a lot less than you’d pay for a comparably equipped rival.

Read our full review on the 2018 Genesis G80


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The E-Class was already a solid offering in the segment, so Mercedes will only operate the minimum number of changes to keep it feeling fresh. These changes will have a minimal impact on what the car is capable of and the way it is perceived, and it will continue to exude a strong appeal thanks to the way it looks on the outside and just the feeling of opulence that you get when sitting in one.

Its interior is easily the most luxurious feeling at this price point and Mercedes will enhance it further as part of the refresh. The extra tech is also welcome, especially in the form of the new MBUX infotainment which replaces the quite clunky previous iteration of the system.
It will continue to be one of the strongest models in its class, catering to the needs of a wide array of potential buyers, with its sedan, wagon and coupe body styles, as well as its powerplant options which range from the swift and fairly economical to the downright brutal - the E63S makes a whopping 603 horsepower and can sprint to sixty in a supercar-rivaling 3.3 seconds.

It’s really hard to ignore the E-Class and, while there was nothing really wrong with the way it looked, the facelift will keep it feeling fresh. That is unless it actually ends up worse looking than before, a problem the previous model had after it received its midlife revamp.

  • Leave it
    • Optional extras are still very expensive
    • Nobody wants the base model

Further reading

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon.

Andrei Nedelea
Andrei Nedelea
About the author

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