Good: gorgeous inside and out, comfort, quality, tech, refinement
Not so good: pricey, handling only entertains in extremis, some small quality issues
I know this makes me odd (there are depths to that statement that you just can't begin to understand...), but I've always preferred the E-Class Saloon and Estate to the Coupe. This is a peccadillo of mine that goes right the way back to the W123 E-Class of the seventies. The Coupe versions, all the way down the line from then to now, look fine and all, and are invariably good to drive, but they just don't exert an emotional pull on me, at least not to the same extent as their more practical stablemates.
I know, I know... There's no question that the Coupes have oft been the better looking versions (not always though...), but I've always just loved the cavernous practicality of both saloon and estate, to the point where the Coupe versions have just left me unmoved.
Does this remain the case?
Well, pleasingly for me, here is an E-Class Coupe that's far more practical than before. The boot is a very reasonable 425 litres, which isn't half bad for a car that's essentially obsessed with style above all, and the wheelbase is 113mm longer than on the old model, which is to the benefit of interior space. You can still only sit two people in the back (there's no centre rear seat), but they do at least now have adequate space.
Which is quite the achievement when you look at the swoopy exterior styling. It's not perfect - that black line that runs down the rear side glass is a touch awkward, and it doesn't have the stretched-back, 1930s-streamliner styling at the rear that the smaller C-Class Coupe has, but you'd have to be challenged in an ocular way not to think that this is an utterly gorgeous car. Mercedes' design department has been knocking hit after hit out of the park lately, and this is some of its best work.
And the cabin. Ah, the cabin. I've waxed rhapsodic about the current E-Class interior in the past and, for good or ill, the Coupe basically lifts its cabin directly from the saloon and estate. That's, for the most part, good. Very good. The combination of the big central 12.3-inch infotainment screen and the all-digital instrument pack puts this interior a significant notch ahead of any current competition. The little touches, such as the design of the air vents, or the eighties throwback look of the instruments in Sport mode, are just delightful. Quality is, for the most part, deeply good, although our test car suffered from some annoying squeaks and noises from the roof lining around the panoramic glass roof, which suggests that not all is as it should be. Speaking of inconsistency, the satnav is among the best we have ever used, but the connection to the Apple CarPlay was so flaky that we actually reverted to using the car's built-in smartphone connection. The other thing to remember is that there's nothing different about it, compared to the saloon...
Nowt wrong with the engine, though. When Mercedes introduced this new 2.0-litre diesel unit in 2016, it shot straight to the top of its class. This is the 220 d version, so you've got a healthy 194hp to shift its not-inconsiderable 1,660kg. Performance, then, is decent without perhaps being exceptional (400Nm is actually a mildly disappointing torque figure for an engine such as this), but the nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox is all but flawless when it comes to executing smooth, seamless shifts and the fuel economy is better than decent. You'll be unlikely to hit Mercedes' official 61mpg, but we regularly got better than 45mpg, which seems not bad considering the car's sporting remit.
Sporting remit? Hmmm. Perhaps not. Resting on its standard steel springs and dampers (air suspension is available as an option), the E-Class Coupe gently, but persistently, presses the button marked 'smooth.' It rides with exceptional decorum for a car running massive 20-inch AMG alloys (well, this is an AMG-Line model after all) and so you squish and squash along in exceptional comfort (aided by terrific front seats). As a way of crossing the country in beatific repose, you could do a lot worse. It's either this or a private jet in the 'arriving unruffled' stakes.
Is it fun, though? Partially, yes, but we suspect that some customers will simply never discover it. The steering is rather good, with nicer weighting and response than an equivalent BMW, and if you flick it into Dynamic mode and really go for it on a twisty road, then the E-Class responds with thoroughbred élan. In common with a lot of Mercedes models, at first, and at low efforts, the E-Class Coupe feels a touch too relaxed and soft for its own good. Get it on the right road, and give it some beans, and the E-Class's chassis comes to life in appropriate fashion, but we reckon that not many of its owners will actually bother to go to that much effort. Still, nice to know that it's there.
So, do I prefer, at last, the E-Class Coupe to its saloon or estate siblings?
No. Sorry. I just don't. It's a very fine car, and if style is your overriding concern, then it'll do you nicely. But considering that it costs a significant chunk extra to buy, and doesn't drive all that much better, if better at all. Sorry, my practical streak is just too wide...