Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe overview
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe occupies a slightly odd corner of the market. It doesn't, at first, look like a much bigger, nor grander, car than the C-Class Coupe, yet it costs significantly more (the same goes for other potential rivals such as the BMW 4 Series or Audi A5).
Equally, it costs a lot less than some other possible rivals, such as the BMW 8 Series (closer in overall size) or Jaguar F-Type (much sportier, but still more-or-less a rival). On top of which, you'd assume that selling a pricey, relatively impractical four-seat coupe in a market such as Ireland, which currently seems to shun anything that's not an SUV, would be nigh-on impossible.
You'd be wrong, though. Instead of occupying an uncomfortable middle ground, the E-Class Coupe seems to have hit something of a sweet spot with Irish buyers - out of 625 new E-Classes sold to Irish buyers so far this year, fully 95 have been Coupes. That makes the Coupe relatively far more successful than the E-Class Estate, and vastly more so than the more affordable C-Class Coupe.
This, we find rather pleasing, not merely because the E-Class Coupe is such a generally agreeable car (which we guess is something of a spoiler for what follows), but equally because here's a car that's NOT an SUV, yet which is proving relatively successful.
So, how good - or for that matter agreeable - is it?
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe model range
Irish prices for the E-Class Coupe kick off at €61,400, which isn't cheap by any metric, but it's worth noting that, while it's significantly more than the €47,800 Merc asks for the cheapest C-Class Coupe, you wouldn't be long spending extra on a C-Class (or a BMW 4 Series or an Audi A5) and so its base price isn't outrageous.
It also comes, in its cheapest form, in AMG-Line specification, which includes, as standard, LED high-performance headlights with adaptive high-beam and automatic dipping, connected navigation, a rear-view camera, a wireless phone charger, DAB radio, ambient interior lighting, traffic sign assistant, 19-inch wheels, an uprated braking system and rather lovely-in-black, open-pored ash wood trim for the dashboard.
The most affordable petrol model is the E 200, powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder mild-hybrid unit, which we're testing here, with a base price of €65,355.
For €70,475 in the same AMG-Line spec, you could have an E 300, which uses the same basic engine but making up to 258hp, rather than the 197hp of the E 200, and yet has the same CO2 output, which is impressive.
For smoother six-cylinder power, you'll have to spend €92,470 for the E 450 4Matic AMG Line, which has a 3.0-litre turbo inline six-cylinder engine, producing 367hp. At the top of the range is the Mercedes-AMG E 53 4Matic Coupe powered by a turbo mild-hybrid inline-six that makes 435hp, and costs €125,185.
If you want diesel power, the cheapest E-Class Coupe is the 194hp E 220 d, also in AMG-Line spec, priced from €61,400. There's a four-wheel-drive 4Matic version with the same engine for €68,985, or you can upgrade to a 265hp E 300 d Coupe (which uses a slightly different four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbodiesel mild-hybrid engine) for €84,390.
At the top of the diesel E-Class Coupe tree is the six-cylinder E 400 d, with a 3.0-litre turbo mild-hybrid engine, 4Matic four-wheel drive and a €103,545 price.
The lowest CO2 emissions rating belongs to the E 220 d (141-145g/km), rising through 156-170g/km for the E 200 d 4Matic, the E 300 d 4Matic and both the petrol E 200 and E 300. The E 400 d pushes that to 171-190g/km, while the AMG E 53 goes beyond the 191g/km mark.
If you're buying on finance, Mercedes-Benz Ireland currently has an offer of a 36-month Star Finance PCP deal, with monthly repayments starting from €695, an €18,810 deposit and a €23,826 Guaranteed Minimum Future Value. That's on a 4.9 per cent APR interest rate, but obviously do check www.mercedes-benz.ie for the latest up-to-date offers.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe interior
The E-Class Coupe, unsurprisingly, gets more or less the same interior as the E 300 de saloon we recently tested. This is, on the whole, excellent news.
The new 'widescreen' version of the big MBUX digital dashboard looks fantastic, and still pretty close to futuristic, even though we've had a few years to get used to it. There is a slight sense of information overload, though, as with myriad options for choosing which dial displays what information, as well as different instrument styles and layouts, it can get a bit confusing.
Time spent would obviously reduce that confusion, and we suspect most owners will settle on one layout and style, rather than flicking between them, but it can be a bit much, at first. Still, plenty of kudos here for graphics that look as rich and expensive, not to mention as crisp and clear, as befits a Mercedes-Benz.
You can optionally upgrade the system to include 'augmented reality' (which overlays navigation arrows on a live feed from the front-mounted, forward-looking camera, pointing you up the actual road you need to take) and a head-up display.
The E-Class Coupe also gets a new steering wheel, in which the lateral spokes have been split in two. These extra spokes are covered with haptic, touch sensitive buttons that allow you to control both the digital instrument panel in front of you and the big infotainment screen in the centre.
They can be, like those used by the simpler three-spoke wheel of the E-Class Saloon, rather fiddly and awkward to use, though. Does one press? Swipe? Flick? Or hammer away with a flat palm until you either break the wheel, or achieve the desired result?
Some of the same can be said for the laptop-style trackpad, mounted to the centre console. Clearly, Mercedes is trying to square the circle of having a complex, deep-menu operating system with the need to have simple, explicable controls, but it has been only partially successful.
The swipe-and-tap motion to move between menus and functions is still rather hit and miss, and it's easy to activate the pad with your wrist when reaching for the (thankfully still physical) air conditioning controls.
The rest of the cabin is, happily, excellent. Thanks to the column-mounted gear selector, there's lots of storage space down on the centre console, albeit there's less physical space for things than you'd find in the equivalent E-Class Saloon.
Behind a veneered flap on the dash, there's a long storage space, in which you'll find two cupholders, the wireless phone charging pad, a single USB-C connector and a 12-volt socket. Under the 'butterfly' armrest, there's more storage, and two more USB-C sockets.
Along the edges of the console you'll find the knurled metal switches for the dynamic drive selector, and the volume control for the stereo, and flat, plastic buttons for parking radar and other functions.
Seat comfort is excellent, although the driving position is offset just a little. In AMG-Line spec, the seats use a combination of electric control for seat height and backrest angle, but manual control for fore-aft sliding. Because of that, it can take a little fiddling and shuffling to find your ideal seat position, but it's worth it when you do, not least for the sheer enjoyment of sitting down low and laid-back, instead of perched up on a metaphorical barstool, as one does in an SUV.
Behind, there is actually quite reasonable space in the back seats, even for taller passengers, and rear legroom is at least adequate, verging on the generous if the front seat occupants are prepared to slide forwards a little.
The cabin's greatest joy, though, is outside. Or more accurately when you bring the outside, in. All four side windows in the E-Class Coupe drop down, and there's no B-pillar behind the front seats, nor a frame for the door glass, so you have a completely open, pillarless coupe effect (bar a tiny triangle of glass at the join of the roof and the waistline, which you can't really see from the front seats anyway).
On warm, sunny days this all gives the E-Class Coupe something like at least half the sensation of a convertible, without the weight, expense and lack of space that comes with actually having a removable roof. With the sides fully open, journeys - even short urban hops for school runs, or just picking up a litre of milk - become far more enjoyable, far more engaging. It's just... lovely.
You could, optionally, augment that feeling with a sliding, panoramic glass roof.
Speaking of roofs and augmenting, you could also supplement the 405-litre boot with a roof rack that can tackle a maximum of 360kg of load, although that would - rather obviously - spoil the E Coupe's handsome lines.
Still, for the ultimate in holiday luggage capacity, it's good to know. The rear seats also split fold (in a 40:20:40 layout), but Mercedes doesn't quote a maximum luggage capacity for when you use that function.
There are three ISOFIX child seat points - two in the back and one in the front passenger seat - and an automatic passenger airbag cut-off for the front when the system detects that you're using a child seat.
The E-Class hasn't been tested by Euro NCAP in its latest, updated form, but it got a five-star rating in 2016, when the current model line was introduced, and given that Mercedes has since upgraded the active safety systems (including steering that can jerk you away from a potential collision and automated emergency braking that can detect both cyclists and pedestrians), we can't see its safety rating slipping much, if at all.
The Mercedes E-Class Coupe driving experience
If mention of just how pleasant the E-Class Coupe is to drive along in with all the side glass down has you thinking that it's a soft, pliant 'boulevardier'... well, you're right. That's exactly what it is, but there's a little more to it than that.
The latest 'M254' 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine now comes with 48-volt mild-hybrid tech. Now, unlike a Toyota-style hybrid, there's no electric-only running - the mild-hybrid is there to help the engine, not temporarily replace it. What it can do is run the stop-start system for longer around down (which helps with urban fuel economy) and put the car in 'glide' mode at higher speeds on the motorway, when you're not asking for much power.
It can also add an extra 22hp and 180Nm of torque for short bursts of extra acceleration. It does seem to work, too. While you'd not quite describe the E 200 as a high-performance model, mid-range acceleration is strong and, having the badge start with a '2' is not the warning of a poverty-spec engine that it once would have been.
It's largely refined, too, although there's no getting away from a slightly rough-edged four-cylinder rasp when accelerating hard. It's not too intrusive, though, and the engine settles down to a much quieter hum when you're cruising, which is to the benefit of long-range comfort.
It is also surprisingly economical - Mercedes quotes a figure of 7.0 litres per 100km on the WLTP cycle, and that's exactly what we managed, even taking in a good bit of urban mileage and some more enthusiastic driving on twisty roads.
It's not quite as good, in consumption terms, as the E 220 d would have been, but given that diesel is fast falling out of fashion, it's yet more proof that going back to petrol power is no route to penury.
The nine-speed 9G-tronic automatic gearbox, for which you select P, R, N or D from the column-mounted lever, works smoothly almost all of the time, with only an occasional shunt down the cogs when you ask for sudden kickdown. You can use the little paddles behind the wheel to shift up and down, but the gearbox is so competent that you'll rarely feel the need to do so.
At first, and this is common to almost all Mercedes models that we've ever driven, the E-Class Coupe doesn't feel all that special to drive. It feels... fine, but nothing spectacular, with light steering and an urban ride quality that's possibly just a touch too firm for absolute comfort. Up your speeds on an open road, though, and the E-Class Coupe starts to come together rather better.
It's a master of the motorway, with its Autobahn genes showing clearly through in accurate steering, excellent stability and strong brakes. It's very much the kind of car that makes a long, straight run not merely easier, but actually pleasurable, as you revel in the sheer solidity of it. In spite of the pillarless glass, refinement is excellent, and there's very little tyre noise - usually the bugbear of a big, German car.
It's far from embarrassed if the road turns twisty, though. While the steering might lack the last nth degree of feel and incisiveness that you'd get from a BMW or a Jaguar, it is nonetheless very well set up. If the E-Class Coupe is a touch too big to feel lithe, then it certainly never feels bulky nor inaccurate, and as with most Mercedes, the harder the questions you ask of it on a tough road, the better it gets.
Alternatives to the Mercedes E-Class Coupe
As noted earlier, the E-Class Coupe doesn't have many direct rivals, if any really. The BMW 4 Series and Audi A5 are from a smaller, more affordable class and can't match the E-Class for cabin space nor (quite) quality.
The larger, grander BMW 8 Series Coupe is closer to the mark, but vastly more expensive and not half so practical in the back seats, unless you go for the four-door Gran Coupe version.
Audi's A7 Sportback, also a four-door, is more spacious and practical, but not as handsome, and isn't really a coupe. Ditto Mercedes' own CLS, which is a lovely car, and shares all of the E-Class's underpinnings, but which doesn't look quite so glamorous.
Jaguar's F-Type sports car is prettier, and far more fun to drive, but also much more expensive. Actually, oddly, probably the closest rival in terms of price, practicality and performance is the 2.3-litre EcoBoost version of the Ford Mustang. The Mustang is more fun to drive than the Merc, but also a little more ragged in terms of its handling and ride, and while it's a great looking car, the cabin is desperately cheap-feeling compared to that of the E-Class.
Our verdict on the Mercedes E-Class Coupe
So, the answer is yes - the Mercedes E-Class Coupe is an agreeable car. Almost extremely agreeable. While it's a little hard to pigeon-hole in terms of rivals (no bad thing, really...) and while it's not cheap, and it does have a fiddly infotainment system, it is a truly likeable car, with a broader spread of capabilities and practicalities than you might at first expect.
The four-cylinder mild-hybrid engine in the E 200 also puts in a more accomplished performance than you might expect. Get the side glass down, let the sun and the breeze in and few cars are quite so pleasant in which to waft about.
Oh, and one other thing - while any new Mercedes will of course depreciate and lose value initially, as any car does, there is the distant prospect of actually making money on the deal. Look at classic car adverts, and you'll find no lack of SEB Coupes (the 1960s equivalent of this E 200 Coupe) for sale for similar money to this new one. Lay it down like a fine wine and wait...
What do the rest of the team think?
On looks alone the E-Class Coupe is a refreshing thing, classically beautiful in a world of edgy designs and sharply creased bodywork. Its frameless doors and striking cabin make it feel like an occasion every time you get in to drive. Its modest (by Mercedes-Benz standards) engine doesn't let it down, with plenty of refinement in most scenarios, though it's tempting to see what other engines are on offer. It strikes me as a car that you would buy and want to hold onto for an awfully long time.
Dave Humphreys - Road Test Editor