Mercedes-Benz updates the long-wheelbase E-Class, but the sedan remains exclusive to China

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The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class L is a longer wheelbase version of the company’s midsize sedan. Built in China and available exclusively to this market, the 2021 E-Class L is based on the latest, facelifted W213-generation sedan. The long-wheelbase model is 140 mm (5.5 inches) longer than the standard sedan and all of that extra wheelbase goes into the rear compartment, which translates into more legroom for rear-seat passengers. What sets it apart from the regular E-Class? Let’s find out in the review below.

What makes the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class L special?

  • longer wheelbase
  • 5.5 inches longer overall
  • enhanced rear-seat legroom
  • exclusive to the Chinese market
  • gasoline engines only
  • revised exterior design
  • new materials and trim
  • new active safety features
2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class L
- image 938304

Just like its predecessor, the updated E-Class L is just a slightly longer E-Class. It sports the same exterior design, but the wheelbase is a bit longer. In this case, the E-Class L comes with an extra 140 mm (5.5 inches) added to its length, measuring a total 5,056 mm (199 inches). Mercedes-Benz doesn’t specifically say how many of those inches go into the wheelbase, but all 5.5 should be there. Compared to the outgoing E-Class L, the refreshed sedan is 22 mm (0.86 inches) longer, which is negligible.

Everything else remains identical to the standard E-Class, but the extended wheelbase model obviously benefits from all the upgrades the came with the facelift. The mid-cycle upgrade isn’t a massive departure from the outgoing model, but it looks fresh thanks to a few important changes. The E-Class now features thinner, horizontal headlamps inspired by the GLE and a mildly revised front bumper.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class L
- image 938305

The profile is one angle that remains unchanged, but this isn’t surprising for a facelift from Mercedes-Benz. Around back, the taillights are the most dramatic change. Inspired by the latest CLS, they’re narrower toward the license place recess and wider toward the fenders. The facelift also includes new wheel designs and new exterior colors, but there might be different for the Chinese market. Overall, the E-Class LWB looks a bit sportier than before, but it remains the elegant midsize sedan we all know.

The interior is of the same variety. The design carries over from the previous model, but there's extra tech and new materials coming with the mid-cycle facelift.

Thanks to the longer wheelbase, the E-Class L benefits form extra legroom compared to the regular sedan. Mercedes-Benz did not release specific figures, but there should be an extra five inches of legroom for rear-seat passengers, which is enough to stretch out comfortably.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class L
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As far as new materials go, you can now pick from upholstery combos like Magma Grey/Neva Grey, Black/Nut Brown, and Magma Grey/Macchiato Beige, but there’s also trim in either silver ash wood, burr walnut fondant, brushed aluminum, or aluminum with carbon grain. Tech-wise, the E-Class L now comes with a pair of 10.25-inch displays for the infotainment system and instrument cluster, but you can also choose the larger 12.3-inch screen.

The E-Class L also comes with new and enhanced active safety systems, as follows:

  • New steering wheel with capacitive hands-off detection
  • Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC with route-based speed adjustment
  • Active Stop-and-Go Assist
  • Active Steering Assist
  • Active Brake Assist; in the Driving Assistance Package now also with turning maneuver function
  • Active Blind Spot Assist – now also with exit warning
  • Parking Package in conjunction with 360° camera: newly expanded side view and for the first time automatic parking not only in parallel and end-on parking spaces, but also on marked areas
2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class L
- image 938302

As before, the E-Class L is available in E 200 and E 300 trims, both powered by turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines and 48-volt EQ Boost systems. The base model cranks out 194 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, which is similar to the previous model. The E 300 takes output up to 255 horses and 273 pound-feet of twist, a 13-horsepower increase over the outgoing version.

Mercedes-Benz could also offer the E 180 trim, a less powerful version restricted to some markets in Asia. Powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder, it comes with 154 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque on tap. The German company has yet to announce whether the E-Class L will also be sold with plug-in hybrid drivetrains. Diesel and AMG versions are out of question for now.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class L
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Pricing should starts from around CNY450,000, which convers to around $68,900 as of December 2020. The range-topping model will retail from a little over CNY500,000, the equivalent of at least $77,000.

While not available in other markets, the E-Class L is a very important model for Mercedes-Benz in China. The Asian country has been the company’s biggest market in terms of sales since 2015, with its sales having doubled there through 2019. The E-Class L had a big contribution, as it saw double-digit growth over four years to the point where one of every two E-Class models sold worldwide in 2019 was a long-wheelbase version in China. That’s impressive to say the least.

Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
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The extensive update of the versatile E-Class model family is now complete: the first long-wheelbase versions of the refreshed E-Class will be[1] in the hands of Chinese customers in a few days. Before then, the updated best-seller takes a bow to the public at Auto China 2020 (26 September to 5 October). In keeping with the motto "Made in China, for China", the long-wheelbase version available exclusively in China is tailored to the requirements and tastes of local customers. It is produced by the joint venture at Beijing Benz Automotive Co., Ltd (BBAC). Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG are presenting a total of four more product highlights at the show.

In addition to the long-wheelbase version of the E-Class, the locally produced new Mercedes-Benz V-Class as well as the new Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 4MATIC (combined fuel consumption: 7.5-7.4 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions: 171-170 g/km[2]) and the new Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4MATIC (combined fuel consumption: 7.6–7.5 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions: 173–171 g/km2) celebrate their China débuts. In Beijing, the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class makes its first appearance at a trade fair.

As in the case of its shorter model brethren, the appearance of the long-wheelbase version of the E-Class has also received an update. The new exterior features include the front and rear bumpers, the radiator grille, the MULTIBEAM LED headlamps and the LED tail lights as well as the boot lid. The model has increased 22 millimetres in length and now measures 5056 millimetres. The MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) multimedia system including touchscreen media display and MBUX Interior Assistant both premièred in the interior as did the new steering wheel generation.

The wheelbase of the long-wheelbase version of the E-Class is 140 millimetres longer than that of the saloon offered in Europe. This provides passengers in the rear of the five-seat car with even more legroom. As part of the facelift, Mercedes-Benz has improved the seating comfort in the middle seat and launched a new centre console with integrated touchscreen (depending on the model) and two USB ports. The long-wheelbase version of the E-Class also joins its model brethren with regard to modern driving assistance systems.

China has been the biggest market in terms of sales for Mercedes-Benz since 2015: total annual sales almost doubled there from 2015 to 2019. The significance of China as the most important market for the saloons from Mercedes-Benz is clearly evident in the E-Class: the long-wheelbase version of the E-Class Saloon set a new record and saw double-digit growth in sales there. One out of every two E-Class Saloons sold worldwide in 2019 was delivered as a long-wheelbase version in China.

Beijing Benz Automotive Co., Ltd (BBAC), a joint venture between Daimler and its Chinese partner BAIC Motor, has already been producing Mercedes-Benz cars since 2005 and engines since 2013. BBAC has more than 11,000 employees. The current product range comprises ten models in total.

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