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Mercedes E500 Coupe

By Sean Poppitt, 28 May 2010 Reviews

Mercedes E500 Coupe

CLK successor makes a class distinction

MERCEDES’ official explanation for turfing the CLK badge in favour of the new E-Class Coupe moniker is to streamline the range. Some say it’s to latch onto the coat-tails of cachet associated with the ‘E’ badge.

While others reckon it’s because the CLK was, well, a bit girly and M-B wanted to distance the new model. Whatever the reason, Benz has delivered a superior car now that the badge reads E-Class Coupe.

At first glance, there are so many slashes, creases, curves and character lines etched into the bodywork that your eyes don’t know where to look. But somehow it all gels into a muscular, Mafia-staff-car kind of cohesion.

Then pop the bonnet and you’ll find 5.5-litres of Benz bent-eight. It’s reasonably well endowed with 285kW/530Nm, and while it is tasked with shifting 1700kg, you’ll need the AMG catalogue to find swifter performance. It’s a creamy unit that pulls smoothly, strongly and pumps a meaty V8 beat.

From behind the wheel, whether threading through Coles’ carpark or attacking an apex, the E500 always feels like a big car – it never shrink-wraps around you. That’s not to say it’s dynamically dopey, but a hefty kerb weight coupled with the alloy V8 suspended over the front axle blunts turn-in, and understeer is the default dance move unless throttle subtlety is part of your repertoire.

But drive smoothly and you’ll find plenty of grip and a neutral, adjustable chassis. The steering is a particular highlight, organic in feel and linear of lock, it puts most current BMWs to shame.

The brakes, however, aren’t in the same league. Prone to fade and turning soft after just a handful of hard stops, we expect better from this $175K Teuton. All Aussie E500 Coupes are fitted with the AMG sports package, which includes adaptive dampers, 18in alloys, bodykit and excellent seats.

And while the slick-shifting seven-speed auto is a bit snoozy left in comfort mode, hit the sports button on the dash and the tempo picks up. It also sharpens the steering and damper response, but also makes the throttle a fraction too edgy.

Other gripes? Urban ride quality is a little stiff, particularly over larger potholes, and while the boot itself is quite spacious, the loading aperture is shallow. Take it from me: the E500 Coupe is not the car for transporting a four-burner barbie…

But as an attractive, refined and rapid cruiser, the E500 Coupe is badge engineering done right.