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Spy shot: Mercedes brings E-Class in line

The exec wars are hotting up. BMW took its new (and heavily disguised) 5 Series onto the streets of Munich just after Christmas.

But Mercedes-Benz is nine months ahead and this is the clearest shot yet of the new E-Class ahead of a 2009 launch.

Visible beneath the black tape are the looks designed to bring the E-Class in line with the rest of the company’s range. There are CLS-inspired lights, wheelarches from the S-Class, and angular styling. The sharp creases and flat sides are Mercedes’ attempt to remind buyers of the hewn-from-granite feel that was its forte until the mid-90s.

Inside the E-Class will receive the latest generation safety and entertainment systems. The car remains rear-wheel drive and it gets bigger than ever. Petrol engines will range from 1.8-litres up to an unnecessary 6.2-litre. Oil-burning power will come from 2.2 or 3.0-litre units. These latter engines will be available with Mercedes’ Bluetec know-how that cuts NOx emissions by up to 80%. But the technology adds a few g/km CO2 so it won’t make much sense within the UK’s company car tax system.

The greenest news is a Bluetec diesel hybrid. From just 2.2-litres Mercedes will get 413lb ft, 55.4mpg and a mere 134g/km CO2. It should be here in 2010 and hopefully in the UK too.

The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class

UK launch: Summer 2009

Price range: £28,000-£70,000

Target: BMW 5 Series, Audi A6

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