THE box-fresh Mercedes-Benz E400 Coupe reforges the coupe cause with comfort, stunning looks and practicality
WHAT IS IT?
The sexier two-door sibling of the Mercedes’ new E-Class sedan paired with a turbo six-cylinder petrol engine, nine-speed auto and all-paw traction.
WHY ARE WE DRIVING IT?
In the previous iteration, the E-Class Coupe was actually underpinned by the platform of its smaller C-Class stable-mate, but the new version is true to its boot badge with the DNA of the larger Benz.
Until a more potent E43 AMG-lite version is confirmed, the E400 4Matic carries the banner as the performance flagship of the range with a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 under the bonnet and all-wheel drive.
BMW 6 Series
THE WHEELS VERDICT
With an engine and transmission combination that carefully surfs the fine line between performance and practicality, the E400 Coupe has supermodel looks and day-to-day practicality.
Add to that, a genuinely feasible second row of seating and the newest coupe has an extra appeal.
The new arrival also sits in the market at a safe distance from obvious rivals such as the BMW 4 Series and Audi A5, which are smaller and more affordable, but below expensive and larger super coupes.
A silky and efficient driveline provides relaxing commute potential, nimble handling and plenty of power keep the E400 delivering on the weekend and those gorgeous looks give you something to simply stand back and appreciate when not going anywhere at all.
PLUS: Silken ride; standout looks without resorting to cheap tricks; feasible second row seating; commendable balance of performance and economy
MINUS: Letterbox rear view; irritating information and entertainment system operation; muted exhaust note even in sportier settings; we’re not convinced of 4Matic relevance
THE WHEELS REVIEW
THE WORD coupe is synonymous with compromise, but in an age when car makers keep proving it’s possible to create a car that’s all things to almost all people, practicality certainly needn’t be the preserve of four- and five-doors.
Try and squeeze four people into an Audi TT, Subaru BRZ or Ford Mustang and you’ll receive complaints from the second row before you reach the end of the street, yet the latest two-door from Mercedes-Benz is a refreshing antithesis to coupe compromise.
We’re not talking about a jacked-up SUV with a chamfered roofline. Rather, the E400 Coupe – a true two-door with looks to stop you in your tracks but practicality that won’t. At the upper echelon of elegance, the S-Class Coupe has knee-weakening aesthetics but an equally staggering price and measurements.
You’ll be thinking about its $327,000 price tag every time you try to slot it into a standard-size parking space. Then there is the C-Class Coupe which has more manageable proportions but looks like someone has ice-sculpted a smaller version of an S-Class and then removed all the character creases with a blowtorch.
Nestled in between the two, however, the new E-Class Coupe retains the pretty tail and proportions of the bigger coupe but miniaturises the overall package for a car that is as easy to live with as it is on the eye.
The front seats are snug and supportive and offer a true coupe seating position with lengthy legroom and purposefully reclined posture while access to the back seats is no drama thanks to large apertures and electrically sliding front seats.
The second-row experience is also cosy but you feel involved in the journey rather than being relegated to a lesser place like chickens in a ute. The tautly suspended E400 is obedient to small steering instructions and in the sportier settings it’s genuinely athletic with sharpened responses and further resistance to bodyroll without compromising the ride.
Ride comfort is the compelling final ingredient in the E400 package. The cosseting air suspension tune insulates occupants from almost all noise and interjections from the road and results in a silky motoring experience. Only the muted exhaust note, restricted view through the slot-like rear window and fiddly infotainment system left us feeling slightly unenthused.
If an AMG version does arrive it will doubtless bring a sharper chassis, more power, and a pumped body (and note), but the E400 has already hit a sweet spot that may prove difficult to top. With just the one car, at least.
Model: Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Coupe
Engine: 2996 V6 Bi-turbo
Max power: 245kW
Max torque: 480Nm
Transmission: nine-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 8.5L/100km
On sale: June 2017