LOOKS GOOD, DOESN’T IT? Mercedes went to great lengths trying to explain why its latest E-class is particularly easy on the eye (in brief: soft shoulder-lines, good proportions, a pillarless greenhouse) but, as with any art form, car design either works or it doesn’t. The E-class Coupe just might have the most attractive combination of curves in the current Mercedes range, AMG GT included.
Those curves stretch 123mm longer and 74mm wider than they did on the old E-class Coupe, with 113mm of extra bodywork (and glass) between the axles. The track is wider, too (and wider than that of the saloon and estate), and yet, in basic diesel form, the Coupe hasn’t gained a single kilo on its predecessor. The cabin sees the greatest benefits from this expansion, though the excellent innards of the current-generation E-class mean it’s already off to a better start than most. The E has one of the finer interiors of any modern vehicle, regardless of price, feeling beautifully crafted and thoughtfully designed throughout.
A pair of 12.3-inch high-resolution displays convey the car’s vitals, while the driving position features more adjustment than you’ll ever need. All of this is enhanced by the Coupe’s party piece, its pillarless side-glass, which not only looks fantastic in profile but affords the cabin the luxury of natural light and, if you drop the side windows, a taste of the convertible experience. One of those, incidentally, is on the way soon.
Mercedes expects the E220d Coupe to be the big seller, but you knew that already. What you need to know is that the four-cylinder E300 petrol that you might have considered as an entry-level alternative is a thoroughly unpleasant device. It’s both noisier and less refined than the four-pot diesel and delivers nothing like the performance implied by its relatively healthy 6.4-second 0-62mph time.
In short, it feels more like a diesel than the diesel does, but lacks the promise of 61.4mpg economy as compensation. Much better suited to the E-class Coupe and a better taste of the inevitable AMG E43 (Mercedes won’t yet commit to an E63 Coupe) is the E400, which uses a 3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine and a 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission.
The official figures are 328bhp, 354lb ft and 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds, but subjectively it’s twice the engine of the E300’s, from the smoothness with which it whirred into life, to the strong, consistent urge and strident note it offers all the way through the rev range. It is, unsurprisingly, much like the popular ’43’ engine already used in the E-class saloon and estate, but with a touch less snarl and less of an inclination to butt into its governor at the top end of the rev-counter.
Air Body Control suspension with adaptive damping is standard on the E400 4Matic and it’s an effective setup. The ride quality is pillowy on the motorway and falters only over sharper bumps, a trait common in air suspension systems. Flick the tiny knurled switch to Sport or Sport+ and the E400 feels instantly firmer, but still far from uncomfortable. While the steering firms up in Sport, the improved body control means smaller inputs are required to round any given corner.
What’s lacking is any real interaction with the front wheels, and, at 1770kg and with a relatively long wheelbase, the E400 never feels truly agile. The 4Matic all-wheel drive gives it so much traction that on dry roads it’s resolutely tied-down, with only progressive understeer when you eventually breach the tyres’ abilities. If you seek an E-class Coupe with the ability to entertain, better to wait for the E43. But so refined, so smooth and so unstressful is the E400 to drive, it should hit the spot if a stunning cabin, easy performance and classical good looks are all you require from a luxury coupe.