2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe review
- 10 Mar 2017 at 06:00
- WRITER: RICHARD LEU
There’s now a bigger gap between the two-door C- and E-class models in terms of size. Is the larger of the two deservingly senior?
Coupe aficionados can certainly point a flaw in some of Mercedes-Benz’s two-door model ranges, especially the C- and E-class, for they shared a common platform and similar dimensions in their previous generations resulting in product-overlapping in showrooms.
Now, the chaps at Stuttgart seem to have rectified the problem by making the E-class Coupe not only a substantially bigger car than before but also larger than the C-class Coupe.
Mercedes says the E-class Coupe uses the same floorplan as in the saloon version albeit some adjustments in size to suit its sportier nature. Although the E-class Coupe is not as long in length, it is suitably wider and less tall to give it the athletic appearance and an edge in driving dynamics required for two-door cars.
And when compared to the C-class Coupe, the E-class Coupe is bigger in every conceivable dimension, be it length, width or height. The 2,873mm wheelbase, for one, is 33mm more. That said, these two coupes feel much more different in size on the road.
Like before, Mercedes is using the exterior design to guarantee some distinctions between the two cars although not to great effect in their latest generations.
That’s because Mercedes (and many other brands, as well) are employing family looks in their respective model ranges, so the front ends are similar. Worse, the rear lights now share the same horizontal stance, unlike before where each had their own identity derived from their saloon counterparts.
But the one distinguishing feature that remains in the E-class Coupe is the rear window pane. Mercedes isn’t saying that it’s a design trademark for the E-class Coupe, but only utters that the small black pillar serves for a functional purpose – the window can’t be wind down in its full size. Whatever the reason, this kind of helps on the E-class Coupe’s visual aesthetics.
Jump inside the E-class Coupe and the differences become more revealing. The wavy bits on the fascia and door panels may feel familiar to C-class owners, but the wide digital screen is probably the biggest differentiator, as well as the chief indicator of what the E-class Coupe is based upon.
Even so, cabin ambience in the E-class Coupe feels slightly more unique and special than in the saloon version, probably due to the multi-coloured interior and vast glass roof of the test cars at the international launch event in Spain.
The tactile quality of various trims, especially the meticulously machined air-con vents, is pleasant. Speaking of the shades available for the dashboard, seats and door panels, it’s either a love or loathe affair. To some eyes, it could appear like an effective personalisation; to others, it may look cartoonish.
Tactile quality of materials is pleasant.
And while some six-footers may struggle to find comfort in the rear seats of the C-class Coupe, there’s just ample room for them in the E-class Coupe. Boot space in the E-class Coupe goes in deep and can be made longer by folding the rear backrests down. Simply put, the E-class Coupe is a genuinely practical two-door, 2+2 car.
Because of the larger body the E-class Coupe has over its predecessor, it naturally feels less agile to drive. You’ll always note that vast bonnet cover and tend to raise the driver’s seat higher than usual for a better view ahead. But due to the raked rear windscreen, vision is limited to a certain degree.
The first bit of driving the E-class Coupe on Spanish motorways reveals that it’s more of a comfortable cruiser than an entertaining handler. The suspension is slightly soft but doesn’t really compromise on high-speed stability. As well, the cabin is generally hushed at all times.
In fact, the car’s larger footprint, especially the wider tracks it has over those of the saloon and its preceding model, aids for good road-holding and stability. The only small quibble is the ultra-thin tyre profile that makes the ride occasionally fidgety over road expansion joints, as such.
Drive up some mountain roads outside Barcelona and the car’s increased proportions are about to be forgotten, despite the view-obstructing A-pillars. The way the E-class Coupe handles around corners is quite impressive. Whether it’s the traditional rear-drive setup or 4Matic all-wheel-drive, the handling balance feels very natural.
Making up for a cohesive driving experience is a steering that feels well-weighted and accurate at the same time. You really wouldn’t bother making the rack heavier by toggling the drive selector to Sport, although this mode helps make the engine more responsive.
And since the chassis has deep abilities in coping with power, the engine that makes the drive nicest in the E-class Coupe is the 333hp 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6. Half throttle is just all you need, even when exceeding the legal limit or when driving the car swiftly in the countryside. This petrol-powered E400 is worth considering for those who enjoy a coupe with good performance.
There’s a smaller and less potent 245hp 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot in the E300, but it doesn’t feel that lively in a straight line. No, it isn’t sluggish, but the E300 doesn’t do justice to that well-honed chassis. And to top it off, this four-cylinder petrol unit sounds untunefully vocal and feels a little crude when pushed.
Handling masters may be quick to point out that such a smaller engine would benefit the car’s front end in weight terms. However, it appears that V6 power hasn’t spoilt the car’s road manners. And the inherent smoothness of the six-pot nicely complements the E-class Coupe’s concept of cruising comfort.
However, the focus on Thai sales when the E-class Coupe is launched at the Bangkok International Motor Show at the end of this month will be on the E300. Like the E250 Coupe predecessor, the E300 Coupe is expected to be priced high up in the four million baht range when equipped with the sporty AMG Dynamic trim.
That will leave a wider gap in price terms between the latest C- and E-class Coupes in Thailand. The circa-1.5 million baht difference is due to the C250 Coupe being assembled in Thailand for the first time. If official words are anything to go by with, the E-class Coupe will remain an import from Germany throughout its lifecycle.
Which is why the Thai Mercedes office should also consider a small batch of the E400 because niche cars tend to sell well in the early years of their lifecycles. A 5% disadvantage in Thai excise taxation should essentially make the E400 a six million baht coupe.
This doesn’t sound bad because the E400 is still cheaper than the cheapest BMW 6-series Coupe. Although it’s basically a two-door 5-series, BMW has deliberately shoved the 6-series upmarket with only six and eight-cylinder power to choose from.
And because the entry-level 640i already costs nearly 10 million baht, Mercedes isn’t considering the entire 6-series Coupe model range as a rival for the E-class Coupe. The Audi A5 Coupe, BMW 4-series Coupe and Lexus RC are classified as opponents for the C-class Coupe.
Having said all that, the E-class Coupe is without a direct rival in the luxury car market. Its comfort-oriented properties, more upmarket cabin ambience and slightly bigger package help lift itself above those aforementioned, smaller coupes from rival brands.
To answer the question we posed earlier, this two-door Merc feels more like S-class Coupe junior than C-class Coupe senior.
The car’s increased footprint helps in the driving dynamics front.
The wide digital screen is genuine proof of the car’s origin.
Six-footers can comfortably sit in the rear.
V6 power feels the natural choice for the well-honed chassis.
Ultra-thin tyre profile occasionally mars the ride.
New inline-six is chosen for packaging reasons.
Despite its coupe profile and some sporty intentions, the direct predecessor of the Mercedes-Benz’s new E-class Coupe has never gotten the proper AMG treatment.
It’s not that Stuttgart’s high-performance car arm couldn’t do it but it was just a matter of the business case, according to sources.
Now that Mercedes-AMG E-class saloon and estate have been given fiery power in the guise of the E63 S – 610hp from AMG’s latest 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 – there’s a theoretical chance the Coupe could get it as well.
Given how the E-class Coupe performs in regular guises, it’s quite clear that its chassis can handle such supercar-matching performance. After all, it’s an E-class – just of another variation.
But before that’s going to (ever) happen, the E-class Coupe is set to receive a new inline-six petrol engine coupled with traditional turbocharger. This unit is set to first appear in the facelifted S-class that’s due to make its debut at April’s Shanghai auto show.
Moreover, the M256-coded sixer is set to form as a basis for the rumoured Mercedes-AMG E50 with mild hybrid tech including 48V electrical system, integrated starter generator and electric compressor to reduce turbo lag and increase engine response.
The decision to use an inline-six motor over an existing V6 is due to packaging concerns. Sources says the prior allows for easier accommodation of the electrified components.
It’s claimed that the E50’s petrol engine would produce at least 400hp. And when combined with electric power, the output would rise to around 450hp.
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