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