The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe is now more desirable. Jonathan Crouch checks out the latest version.
Ten Second Review
Mercedes' new generation E-Class coupe has even sleeker looks and offers a whole series of dynamic driving aids but in reality is at its best when delivering a luxurious grand touring experience. There's a sense of class, quality and style here that makes this car unique at its price point and would normally be the preserve of a larger and much more expensive sports coupe.
The E-Class Coupe. It's the kind of car that Mercedes does very well: a luxury coupe with a prestigious badge that rewards you for a lifetime's endeavour without necessarily needing a lottery win.
No other brand can replicate this recipe in quite the same way - and no other brand has a car quite like this one. Yes, the same kind of budget would buy you a BMW 4 Series Coupe or an Audi A5 but these cars don't have the GT grandeur of this E-Class. And anyway, they're separately targeted by Mercedes' C-Class Coupe model.
The latest E-Class Coupe can look back on half a century of history. Its first ancestor was unveiled by Mercedes-Benz in 1968 (at that time known as the "Stroke Eight" coupe). Further model series followed - for a while under the name CLK. Each generation combined superb design with agile sportiness and contemporary luxury. Has that continued here? Let's see.
As you'd expect, this E-Class Coupe shares its engineware with the E-Class saloon, which means that the headline news is the installation of that model's completely new 194bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine in the entry-level E220d variant. There are two other mainstream engine options - both petrol-powered; the 245bhp four cylinder E300 and the 333bhp six cylinder E400 4MATIC. All are equipped as standard with 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission and the DYNAMIC SELECT system that allows you to tweak steering feel, throttle response, gearshift timings and stability control thresholds to suit the way you want to drive. If you opt to replace the standard DIRECT CONTROL suspension (lowered by 15mm over the saloon model) with optional adaptive damping or DYNAMIC BODY CONTROL air suspension, the DYNAMIC SELECT system's modes will alter ride quality too. There are "Comfort", "ECO", "Sport", "Sport +" and "Individual" settings to choose from.
Mercedes claims that handling response has improved this time round, thanks to this generation model's lighter weight and wider track. This isn't the kind of Executive segment coupe designed for a driving enthusiast though. Instead, the emphasis is on comfort and high-tech, with innovations including high-resolution MULTIBEAM LED headlamps and a DRIVE PILOT system that can virtually supply autonomous driving - depending on how you use it.
Design and Build
First to the feature I like most about this car. The absence of a central B-pillar together with a frameless window design means that you've only to open everything up to get a wonderful sense of airy freedom that's further enhanced if you've also selected the optional sunroof. None of that's changed in a new generation model that retains its classic coupe proportions with a long bonnet, an elongated sideline, a flat roof profile and a powerful tail end now sporting smarter LED lamps and a 'wide effect' rear bumper. What is different is that with a length of 4,826mm, a width of 1,860mm and a height of 1,430mm, this new generation E-Class Coupe is clearly larger than its predecessor.
Slip behind the wheel and if you're familiar with the previous generation version of this car, the main change you'll notice - at least on a top model - lies with the two optionally available high-resolution 12.3-inch displays which are merged under a single lens to produce a floating Widescreen Cockpit effect. This emphasises the width, alongside the fascia-spanning trim, which is finished with a dynamic sweep in the door panel. Positioned in the driver's direct field of vision, the instrument cluster shows virtual instruments, which can be selected by the driver in three different styles, "Classic", "Sport" and "Progressive", depending on which information and views the driver chooses.
Market and Model
Mercedes thinks a Coupe should cost more than an ordinary saloon, so if you've a four-door E-Class and want this smarter two-door option, you'll have a premium of around £1,000 to find, assuming you're comparing like-for-like engines and specs. In that regard, bear in mind that this Coupe comes only in AMG Line trim. All of that means that overall E-Class Coupe pricing starts at around £40,000. That gets you the 194bhp E220d, with around £900 more netting you the 245bhp petrol-powered six cylinder E300. There's also a 333bhp petrol E400 4MATIC variant, priced at around £50,000. All E-Class Coupes only come with 9G-TRONIC auto transmission.
But let's assume that it's an E-Class Coupe you want. Before finally deciding, you might want to compare this model's value proposition with Mercedes' only slightly smaller C-Class Coupe: after all the two cars are virtually the same underneath. That's hard to do very accurately since a number of different engines are used in the two model line-ups. Both these Mercs do however, share the same four cylinder diesel engine: go for this and there's a premium around £12,500 to go from a C-Class Coupe to an E-Class Coupe.
I can see many buyers being quite happy to pay that. There's a kind of 'junior Bentley' feel about this car that gives it a more up-market feel than you'd get in any C-Class. Yet the outlay needed for ownership shouldn't require too many potential owners to need a lottery win first.
Cost of Ownership
Weight-saving measures, aerodynamic improvements, fuel-saving electronic Direct Steering and low rolling resistance tyres feature among the eco-measures implemented with this car, along with an ECO Start/Stop function to cut the engine when you don't need it, stuck in traffic or waiting at the lights. As a result, if you keep an eye on the optimum gearchange indicator, the volume E220d diesel model's four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine can return a combined economy figure of 61.4mpg and 119g/km of CO2.
Low mileage buyers might also consider the 2.0-litre petrol turbo four cylinder BlueDIRECT unit that's in the E300 variant. This is, after all, a very efficient engine indeed, returning a very creditable 40.4mpg on the combined cycle and 160g/km of CO2. Even the 333bhp E400 4MATIC petrol V6 isn't too pricey to run, managing 33.6mpg and 189g/km of CO2.
The improvements made to this E-Class Coupe - the more efficient engines, the smarter looks, the extra equipment - have certainly been welcome but the essence of its appeal has changed very little. As you'd expect, it delivers the powerful, luxurious, Grand Touring sports coupe brand values you'd expect from a £40,000-£50,000 luxury Mercedes coupe.
In driving it, in owning it, you feel another more elegant level away from owners of the brand's less aspirational C-Class Coupe. And a cut above the sporting two-door models that car competes with, coupes like BMW's 4 Series and Audi's A5. There's a maturity and a class here that these sportier rivals lack. They could never be considered as a wise and cost-efficient alternative to spending £30,000-£40,000 more on a Maserati GranTurismo or BMW 6 Series. This Mercedes could be. And that about sums it up.