Detroit 2013: 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

In pictures, the front fascia of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is quite polarizing. To some, the new, more rounded grille is a clear and tasteful evolution of the trademark Mercedes nose; to others – especially with the large, central emblem – it looks like an oversized schnoz.

It's true, the E-Class, like many others, has had its designed hampered by European pedestrian safety laws that require a tall and upright front. However, in person, the attention to detail on the E-Class becomes clear. The entire fascia uses soft curves, which are both pleasing to the eye and smoothly flow rearward. The large, rounded air inlets are less overwhelming in person, although the E63 AMG 4Matic proudly wears its gaping intakes as a reminder of the 550 hp found under the hood. The motion can actually be felt if you touch the creases in the metal on all of E variants.

This idea of soft, sweeping motion is most apparent in the new headlight clusters, especially on the E-Class coupe and convertible. Mercedes has done away with the quad-unit setup, but has mirrored the old style with LED running lights. On the sedan, the running lights have a sharp angle that wraps around the bottom of the LED headlights; however, on the two-door, the running lights arc gracefully, reaching for the A-pillars. They look like streamers blowing in a warm ocean breeze.

This is a new design hallmark for Mercedes-Benz: all of the brand's models will eventually use some form of the torch-design light. Some cars wear it better than others – it looks a bit garish on the ML – but I think that the 2014 E coupe and convertible are the best execution of the design so far. (SL, GLK, and GL models also currently feature torch-style lights.)

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