Mercedes knocks another one out of the park with the new E-Class coupe.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens. All photos taken during the drive event.
Mercedes coupes have always been something special. They don’t sell a ton of them, but they have that cream-of-the-crop feel to them. The newest coupe in the Mercedes-Benz stable is the E-Class. Following suit with the recent corporate styling exercises, the new E coupe sports a much more organic and fluid shape. Of course it retains the E-class coupe’s trademark styling features – the frameless windows and pillarless doors. When they are open, it makes for a strong statement and looks fantastic.
No longer based on the C-Class architecture, the new Coupe rides on the recently launched E-class sedans platform and thus, we get a slightly bigger new Coupe. It is 12.3 cm longer and the majority of that is in the wheelbase which results in a big bump in rear seat leg room. More about that later. The car is also 74 mm wider.
The new coupe has immediate presence whether it is parked or rolling, and its stance is enhanced by the steeply raked windshield and outstanding overall proportions. As elegant as it is, Canada’s E-class coupe gets the sportier AMG styling as standard fare. That includes the power domes on the hood, the snazzy diamond grille, AMG side sills and front and rear aprons.
LED lighting is standard all the way around and includes the signature driving light “eyebrows” as well as the head lights – the magical multi-beam LED upgrade is part of the technology package. Speaking of LED lighting, the crystal-look wrap-around tail lights look great and have some nifty animation sweeps when you fire up the car.
Inside, the cockpit strongly resembles several other of Mercedes’ latest interiors – which is a very good thing. The Coupe gets the awesome-looking new turbine air vents. It’s hard to overstate how nice an air vent can look, and how much of a difference it can make in an interior. Materials are world-class, as one would expect, and buyers have numerous “designo” options for exterior paint, upholstery and trim available to them. The trims with open-pore woods as well as the pin-stripes were stunning. And the application of ambient lighting throughout is the best I’ve seen. It’s classy and it’s beautiful. And there are 64 ambient lighting colour choices for the undecided.
The front seats are extremely comfortable. They are ridiculously adjustable, heated and cooled. And the quilted stitching on the leather is out of this world. They not just comfortable, but very well bolstered and supportive during sportier driving.
Optioned as my samples were, the dash is filled with dual 12.3-inch high-resolution screens – one for the car’s instrumentation (where you can choose from classic “gauges”, a sport gauge look or the progressive set-up which was my preference) and one for the car’s other functions – entertainment, navigation (which comes standard), phone and settings. Let’s talk about entertainment for a moment. These coupes come with a Burmester sound system, which is very good. But these particular coupes were outfitted with the optional top-level Burmester sound systems. The $6,900 stand-alone option brings it with 23 speakers, 15 amps for a total of 1,450 watts and sonic authority and clarity that has to be experienced to be believed. The 3D Surround system even has two ceiling speakers, and the spatial imaging is shockingly believable when you close your eyes. Which you probably shouldn’t while you’re driving.
Although… when it comes to autonomous driving features, the E-Class coupe might be one of the most advanced vehicles on the market right now. This car will all but drive itself, including following traffic and keeping you in your lane, which means it will adjust your steering if necessary. It will slow down, coming to a complete stop if necessary – we tested this to great effect in Vancouver’s stop-and-go rush hour traffic, where it performed flawlessly, with no driver intervention using the gas or brake pedals.
As much as I love the E400 Coupe’s interior, I do have a major complaint, particularly on behalf of Canadian customers. That beautiful steering wheel is not heated. It’s not even an available option. It has something to do with how the steering wheel is made, but considering everything else that was stuffed into this car, I have to say that’s a drag. I mean, seriously, even the centre armrest is heated in case your poor arms get chilly. In Mercedes-Benz Canada’s defense, they are as miffed about it as I was.
Oh and those two rear seats? Getting in and out of the back is no fun at all, but once you’re in, you’ll be treated to some of the most pleasing seating I’ve experienced in a two-door car. They are extremely comfortable, and offer surprising amounts of head and leg room. At 5’10”, I was able to sit comfortably behind my own driving position. Rear passengers get two charging ports – a 12V plug and a high-power 5V USB and of course, an ashtray. There’s also a bit of a centre console between the seats with a series of cupholders. The seats do fold down to extend the trunk’s cargo space – they split 40/20/40. And yes, there are ISOFIX child seat anchors on either side if that’s what you’re using the E-Class coupe for.
But I’m not sure I want much of that stuff. Not when this coupe is such a pleasure to drive. A smooth twin-turbo 3.0L V6 puts out 329HP and 354 lb.ft of torque which makes its way through a fabulously intelligent and slick 9-speed transmission. Canadian E-Coupes are only available in 4MATIC all-wheel drive and this drivetrain makes things pretty darn quick. The E400 will make the 0-100 km/h sprint in 5.3 seconds if you’re in a hurry. The Dynamic driving mode selector allows the driver to choose between four drive modes – Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport+ and the customizable Individual. They change steering effort, your throttle response and the programmed shift points.
The coupe handles really well. We were able to throw it into curves and corners at high speeds, and even the damp mountain roads between Pemberton and Lillooet, B.C. didn’t faze the chassis nor the all-wheel drive system. The steering is a bit numb, but this isn’t a sports car. And the ride is terrific – it’s firm and controlled yet quiet and luxurious. A perfect balance for a grand touring coupe.
While the car is quite hushed during most driving, I thought the V6 sounded great under full throttle – although not as great as Mercedes’ V8 offerings. The brakes are outstanding (there are drilled rotors with enormous calipers at the front) and haul things down in a hurry.
Mercedes says their target customers are ambitious professionals, probably a 60/40 male/female split, aged mid 40s to late 50s and over 80% of them will have more than two household vehicles.
The 2018 E400 Coupe starts at $72,700 and it will be in showrooms in early July 2017.
I got a lot of stares while I was driving this car, and it had nothing to do with my boyish good looks.
A beautifully styled coupe, a brilliant and dynamic drivetrain and a stunning, luxurious and tech-laden interior. Nice one, Mercedes!
Disclosure: Mercedes-Benz Canada paid for my airfare, accommodations, meals and fuel and provided the vehicles for this test drive event.
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