MORE poise for Mercedes-Benz’s mid-tier coupe is matched with a spacious cabin that is dripping with elegance.
WHAT IS IT?
A two-door version of Mercedes-Benz’s W213 E-Class sedan. The E-Coupe is also the middle ground in Mercedes-Benz’s four-seat coupe market, slotting in between the C and the S.
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT
To see if the E Coupe really is required when Mercedes-Benz already has so much to offer in the two-door space. The E-Class Coupe arrives in Australia in June, 2017 and our drive took place in Europe.
You could argue that the biggest rival would be a C-Class Coupe, given it shares many styling cues and engines, albeit with a smaller back seat. Then again, the S-Class Coupe could also rate a second glance for those shopping an E two-door.
In terms of direct rivals, the closest is BMW 6-Series, a car with a bigger price tag. Otherwise check out the BMW 4-Series or an Audi A5. Those simply wanting two-door style with four seats could look at everything from a Ford Mustang to a Lexus RC or, at a stretch, a Maserati Gran Turismo.
THE WHEELS VERDICT
Closer to S than C in its cruisy, big four-seat nature, the new E-Class Coupe provides decent middle ground for those wanting a Mercedes-Benz two-door.
PLUS: Spacious cabin; beautiful interior and attention to detail; supple ride; competent grand tourer
MINUS: Weight dulls performance, especially with four-cylinder E300; lacks cornering sizzle; semi-autonomous tech overhyped
THE THE WHEELS REVIEW
GOLDILOCKS would love the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe. Or, at least, she’d love the premise of the latest iteration of Benz’s four-seat two-door.
Slotting between the C-Class and the S, the E Coupe dishes up more comfort and space than the C at half the price of an S.
Perfect, then, for those who don’t need back doors but who do yearn for two-door style with some semblance of space.
That’s the theory, and it’s one that gets more serious with the latest iteration of the E two-door.
Riding on the W213 E sedan’s architecture (the previous car used a stretched C platform), a clear sales pitch with the Coupe is space. There’s an extra 74mm of rear legroom and 34mm extra shoulder room.
Accessing those twin rear pews – which have a 40/20/40 split-fold system to lengthen the already long boot - means scything past the sizeable rear quarter panel that ensures the front doors aren’t as bulky as they can be on coupes of this stature.
Cocooned in the sculpted seats there’s loads of knee space and ample head room for all but six foot-plussers.
And those in the rear get the same matte metal window switches and Burmester speaker grilles, ramming home the attention to detail throughout. Dual circular air vents with separate controls complete the luxury back seat package.
Those vents are the same as those up front, an intricate turbine-inspired design that gives the Coupe a distinct appearance from the sedan it’s based on. They’re a small but significant change, although it’s a shame the touch doesn’t match the wonderful look; they feel plasticky and cheap.
But the E’s broad cabin creates a feeling of openness up front, one amplified with the panoramic sunroof and expansive (brilliant) wood dash.
On the road, too, there’s a stateliness to the E’s manners.
At 1610kg it’s not particularly light. But precise steering and broad 20-inch Pirelli P Zero boots (standard on the E300 and E400) ensure it points sharply, only tempting understeer when chucked in hard.
The 4Matic of the E400 (complete with its V6) adds 160kg to the equation, taking the total to nearly 1.8 tonnes. That translates to more weight over the nose, although it still points with assertion.
And the extra traction of the 4Matic eliminates the occasional rear-end wiggle of the E300, upping confidence and pace out of hairpins.
As with the sedan there’s a relaxed, grand tourer nature to the Coupe, which brings a modest two-door price premium of between $3100 (for the $96,000 E220d) and $6000 (for the $145,900 E400). Our COTY experience with the sedan suggests the low profile rubber may not be perfect over pockmarked Aussie hotmix, although we’ll make that call on home soil.
But on smooth Spanish bitumen it’s no issue. The Comfort suspension setting suits the nature of the car, albeit without the sharper full-throttle upshifts of Sport+ (less impressive is the jumpy throttle response). Even in Sport+ the ride is unfazed by the welcome additional stiffness.
Sport adds some welcome alertness to the throttle and a hint more feel to the tiller, along with more eagerness to use one of the nine-speed auto’s lower ratios, albeit with some occasional abruptness to a downshift.
The trio of E Coupe drivetrains is identical to those in the sedan.
The 300’s broad 370Nm spread of torque makes for easy acceleration, but it’s lacking fizz when kicked. Then again, at $110,900 it’s a lot of Merc coupe for the money.
Despite the extra kilos the 400’s more plentiful 245kW/480Nm outputs make acceleration more in keeping with the sleek look. Aurally there’s more character, too, although more of Sport+’s subtle high rev burbles at it approaches its 6400rpm shifts would seal the V6 deal.
Depending on your viewpoint the E Coupe’s competence is diluted by the Merc coupes that bookend it within the range. Or it’s the perfect “just right” combination of space and relaxed touring elegance for those who want some S-Class space at a more palatable price. If only it had more driving spice.
Model: Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Coupe
Engine: 2996cc V6 (60°), dohc, 24v, twin-turbo
Max power: 245kW @ 5200-6000rpm
Max torque: 480Nm @ 1600-4000rpm
Transmission: 9-speed auto, AWD
0-100km/h: 5.3sec (claimed)
On sale: June, 2017