[caption id="attachment_19" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="Mercedes-Benz E-Class"][/caption]\r\n\r\nIf the Mercedes S-Class is the flagship of the brand, a showcase of the vast knowledge Benz has in creating a fine automobile, they call the E-Class their figurehead. And rightly so. It\u2019s big enough and advanced enough to be a perfect brand ambassador, but diminutive enough (in its own way) to be discreet and understated. And Benz owners want discreet and understated. These are traditional automotive customers who want reliability and prestige, not flash and pomp.\r\n\r\nFor some time now these customers had to adjust to the bold designs of the E-Class. From the straight angular lines of the beloved W124 produced during the mid-80s to the mid-90s, the Benz loyalists were presented with a design departure via the W210\u2019s (1995-2002) twin oval headlamps. It was still an attractive sedan, but like a girl with character, she had to \u201cgrow\u201d on you.\r\n\r\nThe next E-Class, the W211 (2003-2009), represented a progression of the twin oval headlamp design. It was sleeker and more visually appealing, but it just didn\u2019t have the taut cohesiveness of the first E-Class, the square and angular W124.\r\n\r\nNow the faithful have been rewarded for their, er, faith. The new E-Class, code-named W212, looks like it was designed with minimal use of a compass. At first glance it echoes the stately S-Class, and that\u2019s a very good thing. And its eyes, a key element of a car\u2019s face, are no longer twin ovals (although I must say they grew on us quite nicely) but are almond-shaped lamps with square secondary lamps beside them. And beneath the headlamps, mounted on the airdam intake, are a series of small lights that form an inverted \u2018L.\u2019\r\n\r\nWe like it already.\r\n\r\nAvailable initially at launch are all E300 models, ranging from the Elegance costinng P4,980,000 up to the Avantgarde AMG Sports variant costing P5,680,000. (Read more about the E-Class in Top Gear Philippines\u2019 June issue)\r\n\r\nThe mid-size luxury segment has been languid lately. The BMW 5-Series is growing old while the Audi A6 is intriguing but not as stylish as the A4 nor as handsome as the A8. If there ever was a good opportunity for Benz to bring out a better-looking E-Class, it couldn\u2019t have chosen a better time, recession be damned.