The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe retains all the civility, comfort and ease of its saloon relation, but gains more desirable looks in a still practical package. Here we test drive the largely irrelevant E 400 model, but who cares? Just look at it.
In the Metal:
The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe drops a pair of doors from its four-door sibling, lowers the roofline and lengthens its lines and the overall effect is one that's immediately more arresting and dramatic than the already handsome saloon. A proper coupe, then. Achieving the fine balance between additional allure without resorting to gauche showiness, the E-Class Coupe is a demonstration of sophisticated restraint. There's still plenty of flourish, it's just that it hahere's still plenty ofs lines, eduction) E 400 model, but who cares? Just look at it.s been achieved with a simplicity and subtlety of form rather than busy, extrovert lines and proportions.
The exterior might be an exercise in fine taste and discretion, but the interior rewards with slightly more indulgent detailing and style. It's not often we're wowed by something as functional as an air vent, but those in the E-Class Coupe really are a visual treat - their sculptural quality is as appealing as their ease of operation. The seats, too, are supremely comfortable, while the huge double-width screen that spans the dash is familiar from the saloon, operating just as easily and looking just as good as it does there, too.
Obviously, with the loss of a pair of doors comes some compromises in practicality, but not as many as you might imagine. The two rear seats are fine for a pair of adults, with decent head- and legroom. Access to them is not too difficult either, particularly if you lower all the windows - the pillar-less opening adds not just to the glamour, but also the practicality. There's a decent-sized boot, as well, making this a coupe you really could justify for everyday use, even if you regularly transport more than two people.
We'll concede that the likelihood of any Irish buyers choosing the E 400 4Matic range-topper is slim, which is a shame, as it's powered by a cracking engine. With 333hp and 480Nm underpinning it from just 1,600rpm the biturbo V6 is an effortlessly brisk choice, which even manages decent fuel consumption thanks to a mass of ratios in its automatic transmission. There are nine gears and the way the E-Class juggles them imperceptibly is genuinely impressive, so much so that the need or desire to ever take over via the steering wheel-mounted paddles is rare.
With all the autonomous driving features of its saloon relation the E-Class Coupe utterly fulfils the notion of a grand touring car, too. Motorway schleps are a cinch with its cruise control managing crawling traffic or high speed cruising, and the E-Class Coupe is as serene and able as they come. For all that comfort and ease there's enjoyment to be had, as the chassis balance is fine and the steering weighting good - if light on what can actually be described as feel - while the engine's response is quick. There's the usual choice of driving modes, though toggle through Sport and Sport+ and the air suspension adds brittleness in the pursuit of tautness. Thankfully, the Individual setting allows you to increase the immediacy of the powertrain without detrimentally upsetting the otherwise fine ride of the suspension.
Choose that more eager drivetrain and the E 400 4Matic proves to be a capable, fast car; with a 0-100km/h time of 5.3 seconds, the engine's performance is strong from low revs and sounds good at the upper reaches of the needle's sweep, too. It's a compellingly capable and rounded package, which does a fine job of delivering huge ease and comfort backed up with enough enjoyment to thrill when the mood takes you. Word is there's not going to be a full-fat AMG version, so it's likely there will be a Mercedes-AMG E 43 derivative instead, but whether even that will be able to tread the fine divide of grand tourer and sports coupe that this E 400 4Matic achieves so adeptly remains to be seen.
What you get for your Money:
For now, prices start at €49,170 in Ireland for the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe in E 200 guise. That includes the importer's 10 per cent price reduction. Only that petrol version and the E 220 d diesel are on the price list at the time of writing and the latter is only a little more expensive. All models come with a nine-speed automatic transmission. The standard specification includes Active Park Assist, ambient lighting, Garmin satnav, heated leather seats, rear view camera and 18-inch alloy wheels. The AMG Line adds styling tweaks inside and out, including 19-inch rims.
A coupe that appeals to both head and heart, you could really make a compelling case for the Mercedes E-Class Coupe as an only car, even in a household with a couple of children. Of course you'd have to make a few compromises, but not so many as to make life a chore with it, though we'll admit reality might require an engine a little bit parsimonious than the 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 petrol tested here. Experience with the diesel four-cylinder in the saloon suggests that it'd be a good match, making this neat looking, fine-driving coupe a very desirable choice indeed.