Mercedes-Benz unveils its new ’03 E-Class at the Brussels Motor Show this week. In addition to significant styling changes, the new model features a wide array of safety and technology improvements. Mercedes says it has invested $2 billion in the car.

E-Class annually accounts for 25% of the company’s global passenger-car sales. The new model represents the first significant styling change for the car in seven years.

Exterior stylists maintained the E-Class’ signature oval headlamps, although they have a more angular appearance. The new exterior was designed to provide a sporty yet elegant appearance.

The ’03 E-Class comes standard with electronic brakes -- a technology that recently debuted on the SL roadster. E-brakes are a new brake-by-wire system that provides faster, more sure-footed brake response. The brake pedal works with an array of sensors and a computer that tells four fast-acting valves exactly how hard to apply the brakes on each wheel.

A newly developed 4-link front suspension and a multi-link rear suspension also are standard equipment, along with a new dual-control version of the Airmatic air suspension -- which debuted on the current S-Class.

On the safety front, the ’03 E-Class features adaptive front airbags that deploy with lower force in minor accidents and with higher force in serious collisions.

The ’03 model will be available in Europe this spring and in the U.S. in late summer. The E-Class lineup for the U.S. will include the E320 and a new V-8 E500. A wagon and high-performance AMG version will follow in 2003.