2014 Mercedes E-Class, pressed and steamed: Motoramic Drives
There are a limited number of objects that look aesthetically pleasing when covered in amorphous bumps and strakes—a Winslow Homer seascape, an Alvar Aalto interior, and James Dean’s hair top our short list. Notably absent from this rarefied grouping is the exterior design language of the world’s premier manufacturer of German luxury vehicles. And yet, for much of the past decade, just this kind of inelegance has afflicted the Mercedes-Benz lineup.
Patient Zero of this pandemic was likely the W221 S-Class, with its fish-eyed glare, its bulbous linebacker’s shoulders and thighs, and its mass-increasing creasy massing. But it spread like jock itch throughout the product line. In fact, the only Benz strong enough to survive this contagion was the mightily rectilinear G-Wagen and that was only because, like a zombie, this ancient vehicle was already dead—having been killed officially in 2006, only to rise from the grave to eat its GL replacement’s brains.
That has finally started to change.
Like a tiny rake from a desktop Zen sand garden being set upon the Mojave, this disfiguring condition has received its first successful, though limited, medical treatment. We are talking, of course, of the mid-cycle refresh of the E-Class for 2014, and the lancing of the croissant-shaped goiter that scarred its rear quarter panel.
We do not expect, and neither are we advocating, a Nicole Kidman-esque eradication of all imperfections throughout Mercedes’ myriad offerings — they allow a vehicle to communicate emotion. But the ironing out of this one area gives us hope that the doctors in Stuttgart may soon follow the same curative course on the hideous SL, and have preventively vaccinated the forthcoming remade S-Class.
The E-Class’s exterior has received other updates beyond this lovely lumpectomy. These include a tucked-in tail with special new LED taillights that we won’t receive in America; a refreshed front end with an intensely complicated glare-proof new headlight system that we won’t receive in America; and a pair of tidily handsome, if a bit protuberant, new schnozzes. The duo will forsake the global names “Elegance” and “Avant Garde” in America, and instead be christened “Luxury”— designated by a grille stolen back from the Hyundai Genesis—and “Sport”— designated by its resemblance to the proper grille on the W107 SL and that it's the only one you should consider buying.