Looks and lux­ury meet

Styling, com­fort and pre­mium ride com­bine in a two-door that’s a head-turner, not a neck-snap­per

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Prestige - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@news.com.au

THERE’S a hint of rep­e­ti­tion about the roll­out of another Mercedes-Benz model based on the E-Class. Ex­pe­ri­ence says the chas­sis will drive well and the in­te­rior will be a joy to be­hold from be­hind the wheel.

So when it comes to the coupe, the stand­out fea­ture is the styling, which I’d ogled when it was shown in Detroit at the start of the year.

The two-door com­bines the as­sertive Benz front end with pil­lar­less doors, a sharply raked roofline typ­i­cal of mod­ern sports cars and three en­gine op­tions.

The catch here is that the EClass, for all its sporty looks and abil­ity to cover ground quickly, is more about ef­fort­less cruis­ing than out­right per­for­mance.

Be­yond the un­gainly ac­cess, the rear pair of seats can ac­com­mo­date grown-up bod­ies as the need arises with­out bent necks or knees jammed into the back of the front seats. This puts the E-Class coupe in grand tour­ing ter­ri­tory — where it ex­cels.

The 220d kicks off the range at $96,000 and the diesel is the only one of the trio to ride on steel springs. The E300 petrol vari­ant at $110,900 has the fea­tures and run­ning gear to sat­isfy most buy­ers, from the adap­tive air sus­pen­sion to adap­tive LED head­lamps.

Top­ping the range — for now — is the E400 4Matic with a twin-turbo V6, all-wheel drive, head-up dis­play, panoramic sun­roof and 13speaker Burmester au­dio. The ex­tra kit and per­for­mance helps in­flate the price to $145,900.

The clos­est chal­lengers to the E coupe aren’t fel­low Ger­mans. In­stead the com­pe­ti­tion comes from the In­finiti Q60 Red Sport at $88,900 and Lexus RC350 Sports Lux­ury at $88,280

ON THE ROAD On the ba­sis of driv­ing the petrol ver­sions (and in the ab­sence of a diesel at the launch), the 2.0-litre is a de­light to drive quickly over long dis­tances, pro­vid­ing there’s a pass­ing lane or no one in front of you.

If you’re stuck be­hind some­one do­ing 90km/h on a hilly 100km/h sec­tion of road, the E300 needs a bit of room of wind up, so the op­er­a­tion is less in­stant over­tak­ing and more con­sid­ered pass­ing.

This is a big car with a 2.0litre en­gine. Tur­bos are ter­rific but they can’t work mir­a­cles.

More ca­pac­ity and another turbo can, so the 3.0-litre twin­turbo E400 lifts the dy­namic per­for­mance another step. The ex­haust note is also more in keep­ing with a car of this char­ac­ter. Com­fort mode dulls throt­tle re­sponse in both ve­hi­cles — sports mode does a bet­ter all-round job. The air sus­pen­sion is still pli­able at low speeds but be­comes pro­gres­sively firmer.

Be­hind the wheel, the feel is com­posed con­fi­dence. Driven at less than manic in­ten­sity, the four-seat Benz drives as well as it looks, with a cabin am­bi­ence few cars can match.

VER­DICT

The looks, the lux­ury and the ride are the key el­e­ments in a pre­mium coupe and the Benz E-Class de­liv­ers. It’s head­turn­ing rather than neck­snap­ping. If you want the lat­ter, head for the AMG-badged sedans.

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