Plus & Minus
Cossetting primary ride, decent torque, cabin space, good looks, tech
Minus: Sleepy transmission, jarring secondary ride
WHAT IS THE MERCEDES-BENZ E300 COUPE?
The two-door coupe version of the recently facelifted E-Class sedan. The 300 badge denotes the more powerful four-cylinder petrol turbo engine, compared to the E200.
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT
The E-Class attracts some of the brand's most loyal customers, second only to the S-Class, the Coupe accounting for almost one in every four sold. We're investigating if the two-door's sleek lines bring something more to the experience.
THE MERCEDES E300 COUPE REVIEW
It's only when you search for an ESP button in the new Mercedes-Benz E300 Coupe that you wake up to what sort of car you’re in.
Banished from the centre console or steering wheel spokes like in AMG models, the E300 instead hides any sort of ESP configuration under layers of infotainment sub-menu.
While its swooping roofline and athletic physique can promise something different at first, you’re reminded this is a stately ride – built to appease a core clientele of brand loyalists who return to the E-Class for its refinement, class, safety and comfort.
And so it goes for the fresh facelift Mercedes-Benz has levelled at the model; with exterior changes, interior tweaks and safety upgrades building value into the $4060 price jump over the pre-facelift W213-series Coupe.
With that, designers have given the E-Class a fresh face and bum centred around new lights and grille. The new LED headlights and taillights now align with a horizontal plane, rather than vertically, and leave the car’s head-turning ability unspoiled.
A standard-fit AMG line design package on Australian cars also lends a sporting touch to its exterior, with multi-spoke 20-inch wheels wrapped in 30-series rubber complementing AMG bumpers, a sparkly AMG grille and power dome bonnet.
Unlike the old E-Class Coupe that rode on a C-Class platform, this generation coupe is born from the E-Class sedan underpinnings. And at 4.8 metres long the E300 Coupe remains a big car, with the interior offering ample room for heads and feet in the back two seats – as long as you’re under six foot.
But with that size comes mass. Not helped either by the E-Class’s reputation for technology, as this model’s new capabilities include an active brake assist tuned to better handle traffic. Active steering assist only needs hands on the wheel, rather than input, to know you haven’t fallen asleep.
All up, at 1700kg, you’d assume the E300 would feel more laboured hauling around its big bones. Like before, the E300 relies on a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder – code-named M264 and shared with the C-Class – that feeds the rear wheels 190kW/370Nm through a nine-speed automatic transmission.
In truth though, the engine, which also bears relation to the M260 unit found in the A-Class, is loaded with ample torque and loves to rev. With some momentum, the E300 feels quicker than it should, given it’s rated to hit 100km/h from rest in 6.4 seconds, but the absence of exhaust tuning, artificial or otherwise, hints the E300 is uncomfortable on the winding road.
Supple, wafting air-suspension goes some way to back this up. Even in sport plus, the E300 can never hold itself flat, highlighting its mass is a lot for its Pirelli P Zeros to handle, even with a footprint just as wide as a Ford Mustang GT’s with 275mm rear tyres.
This doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy corners. The E300 steers true, with direct steering leading the way. But only noticing anything about smooth transmission until you’re begging for a downshift into a hairpin speaks volume about its purpose.
Of course, the E300 feels more suited to long distance touring. The ride is also brilliant when the 20s aren’t skipping over high-frequency bumps, and the seats, while supportive, halve the time your body feels like it’s been sitting down.
Relying on quick turbo response to dispatch most cars from the right lane with ease, its broad mid-range and well-spaced gearing offer legs long enough to ask if you need a six-cylinder E-Class.
On top of this, a four-cylinder E-Class has fewer reasons to leave you feeling short-changed. Its dual 12.3-inch panels on the widescreen cockpit carry the latest MBUX infotainment system, and an excellent new-generation steering wheel has solved the old version’s poor touch-capability.
While our verdict on the E300’s excellent touring qualities is interchangeable with its sedan counterpart, the coupe version builds a stronger lead on its rivals given its combination of sexy styling, exquisite design and a clear focus.
While its coupe looks deliver a character that's less pipe-and-slippers and more James Bond, we'd still forget the ESP button and enjoy the more mature drive.