|The redesigned 2018 E-Class Coupe is larger and more accommodating than its predecessor. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
In fact, with the admission that BMW ended production of its 6 Series Coupe in February (and no confirmation of the much anticipated 8 Series), Lexus and Mercedes-Benz are the only premium brands that dare go up against ultra-luxury players such as Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Ferrari, Aston Martin, and Maserati with premium coupes of their own. The Japanese brand has just introduced the daring new LC, its first foray into these dangerous waters, whereas Mercedes’ E-Class Coupe (previously CLK, CE) and S-Class Coupe (previously CL, SEC, and SLC) have experienced relatively smooth sailing for decades.
Way back when I was emulating Alex P. Keaton as an up and coming ’80s-era yuppie,
|Classic Mercedes two-door sedan design cues are joined by the brand’s latest trademark styling. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Of course, there were a couple of CLK stints that ran from 1997 through 2002 (the 208) and 2002 to 2009 (209), and as well received and impressive as these cars were it was the 2010 E-Class Coupe that caught me short of breath, filled me with butterflies, and generally got me all flustered
|Pillarless windows and a large power retractable glass roof make for an open and airy experience. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
That comment goes more than just skin deep, although the new E Coupe’s styling as elegant as anything in its four-place luxury coupe class while arguably as sporty as its smaller predecessor. The most notable frontal change is the “Diamond” grille, Mercedes harmonizing the appearance of nearly all performance models from the four-door CLA up to the grand S Coupe. The grille’s rounded edges flow around new standard LED headlamp clusters before passing over smoother fender swells and finalizing in curvaceous
|Clean elegant lines should give the new E Coupe timeless appeal. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
From a distance it’s an exercise in minimalism, but Mercedes has the details down to perfection too. The Diamond grille’s chromed pin brightwork is literally brilliant, while the unique complexity within my testers’ upgraded active cornering Multibeam LED headlamps, complete with 84 individual elements apiece, is dazzling, as is the granular detail within the “crystal” taillight lenses, or for that matter the fine visual lightness to the optional 19-inch twinned five-spoke AMG alloys, and that’s all before taking in the cabin via its pillarless side glass.
I drove two E 400 4Matic examples during the model’s Canadian press launch that started at Vancouver’s YVR airport, took us
|The launch program drive route took participants through Whistler, BC. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|A wide stance aids high-speed stability and ultimate handling. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The Stuttgart automaker has been making its big autobahn-born coupes with frameless doors sans B-pillars for as long as I can remember, and together with a standard panoramic sunroof that slides back atop the rear potion of the roof, the E Coupe presents a targa-like open airiness, which is all the better for shedding light on its impressive interior.
Truly, upon opening the door of my first E 400 Coupe tester I was in awe. The current E-Class experience wasn’t totally new to me being that I recently reviewed an E 300 Sedan, so I was prepared for its
|Mercedes’ "Diamond" grille is beautifully detailed. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Just take a look at the photos in this story and the attached gallery, or go see firsthand for yourself at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer, this E 400 Coupe is a cut above all competitors, nearing and in some ways surpassing ultra-premium brands like Bentley. Even Merc’s larger analogue clock is considerably nicer than the British marque’s diminutive Breitling, with a crystal so clear it seems like sapphire and a three-pointed star at centre that reminds even Rolex paid tribute to
|The optional Multibeam LED headlamps feature 84 individual elements per side. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
And I haven’t even mentioned digital interfaces. With its optional 12.3-inch configurable gauge cluster that offers up classic, sport and progressive graphic interfaces, the screen fully combining with the standard 12.3-inch centre stack electronics for one ultra-sized dual-tablet-style “Widescreen Cockpit” display, Mercedes fully embraces the digital age.
Traditionalists can opt for a set of analogue gauges surrounding a 7.0-inch colour TFT multi-information display if they’d rather cling to the past or simply save money, because the only way to get this window into the modern world is via the $4,000 Premium package which also adds proximity-sensing keyless entry with pushbutton ignition, foot actuated hands-free
|The new E Coupe’s standard AMG package certainly offers up sporty styling. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I’d opt for the Burmester stereo upgrade just to get the fabulous aluminum speaker grates, although the audio is even better than the visual, while Keyless-Go forever relegates fumbling through purse or pocket for wayward keys to the dark ages, a technology worth its weight in gold.
I suppose Bitcoin, Ethereum, or some other cryptocurrency is more apropos for analogizing this ultra-advanced car (although
|These 19-inch AMG alloys are optional. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
So much technology might sound overwhelming to some, but believe me it’s anything but. It’s clean, clear and easy to sort out via thumb swipes on two steering wheel-mounted Touch Control buttons, the left side for the configurable gauges and right side for the infotainment system, plus the usual touchpad and rotating controller on the centre console for the latter, this system also recognizing handwriting and the usual tablet/smartphone-like gestures, not to mention Linguatronic voice control. Once acclimatized the entire process simplifies the art of driving, and while some manufacturers
|Now that’s a grand sunroof. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The rest of the interior is sensory bliss, from the leathers, metals and hardwoods used to surface its complex yet fluid lines, to the combination of handcrafted and machine precision in doing so. I could only find one point of contention: hard shell black plastic door pockets placed down below where most probably won’t notice. I did,
|The smart sunroof design lays across the top of the roof when retracted. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The 2018 E 400 4Matic Coupe starts at just $72,700 plus freight and fees, which when placed beside its only competitors seems very reasonable. If you can still find a 6 Series Coupe (you probably can as BMW can’t seem to sell them anymore) you’ll need to fork over somewhere in the neighbourhood of its $102,000 asking price (if you find a base model), whereas that aforementioned Lexus will save you a whole $400 at $101,600. It’s not fair to compare these cars directly, but even my near fully loaded E Coupe testers seemed like bargains.
Along with the $4k Premium package, both my cars came with the $2,600 Technology package featuring Multibeam LED headlamps with dynamic cornering and auto high beams, head-up display, and a
|The taillight lenses look downright minimal until you get up close. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|Open up and climb in for one of the most impressive interiors in the luxury sector. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|The woodwork, switchgear detailing and optional Burmester stereo speaker grilles are divine. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
In the event such systems can’t save you from trouble the E Coupe’s Pre-Safe system will instantly and automatically close all windows and the sunroof, pull the seats upright, cinch the seatbelts and more while doing its best to stop and steer you away from the critical path as quickly as possible. Even more amazing, milliseconds before a crash Mercedes’ new Pre-Safe Sound deploys a high-volume blast
|Yes, that’s two massive digital interfaces joined at the middle, controlled by switchgear on the standard flat-bottom steering wheel. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Whether left to its own autonomous devices or kept in complete driver control the E 400 4Matic Coupe is one ultimately smooth and wonderfully swift machine. Its twin-turbocharged direct-injection 3.0-litre V6 (a less potent version of the 396 horsepower AMG E43’s powerplant) produces 329 soulful horsepower and 354 lb-ft of near immediate torque for a brisk 5.3-second sprint to 100 km/h (0.9 seconds quicker than the outgoing model) and a top speed of 209 km/h (130 mph), while its new lighter nine-speed 9G-TRONIC longitudinal automatic is as quick and smooth an operator as anything in the class,
|The the new turbine-look air vents are more efficient and look fabulous. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Unlike most challengers, Mercedes maintains quality control by manufacturing its own transmissions, so rest assured the same care and attention that goes into its outward craftsmanship backs up sights unseen as well. Aluminum paddles are included, but as silky as these feel to the fingers and as quick to react as they are, the transmission’s ability to automatically downshift under braking in Sport and Sport+ modes made them irrelevant in all but extreme situations, although it should be noted the sharpness of shifts under Sport+ mode had me slotting the drive selector into Sport mode more often than not. It’s a grand touring car after all, and while capable of chewing up miles and miles of fast-paced asphalt without complaint, it’s even better at tasking long sweeping freeway curves at yet faster speeds.
|The optional 12.3-inch configurable TFT gauge cluster is unusually brilliant. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
When set to either of its more docile settings the E 400 4Matic Coupe manages fuel well thanks to plenty of built in efficiencies, a particularly notable one dubbed “sailing” mode that shifts the gearbox to neutral when coasting. Highway fuel economy is therefore excellent at 8.9 L/100km, whereas a smooth operating standard auto start/stop system that shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling helps it earn an 11.8 L/100km rating in the city.
As you might guess this E Coupe was thoroughly comfortable and plenty easy to drive around town, but when pushed hard through the distant hills that made up much of the aforementioned route it was every bit the sport coupe its lean lines promise. The car is near unflappable in fact,
|The gauges can be configured with classic, sport or progressive graphics. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
On that note the base Dynamic Body Control suspension, which features adaptive dampers filled with two different sized chambers up front and three in back to vary ride firmness, delivers a wonderfully compliant ride no matter the road surface. We hit some frost heaved bumps, unexpected potholes and impromptu roadwork on the various backcountry highways, and nothing unsettled the car at speed.
|These Touch Control buttons control the gauges and the infotainment system. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Those aforementioned missing B-pillars, along with the gently canted windshield, forced Mercedes to thicken the A-pillars in order to increase the car’s structural rigidity, this slightly limiting forward visibility around corners. I got used to it quickly enough thanks to excellent sightlines in every other direction, but I remained grateful the car’s many electronic eyes were keeping watch where mine couldn’t see, not to mention its superb 360-degree parking camera that made for easy manoeuvrability in small spaces. That sweptback windshield enhances aerodynamics resulting in a svelte 0.25 drag coefficient, which is plenty slippery for a large car with such a grand grille.
|Navigation is standard, as is Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a backup camera and more. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Oddly, despite the increased size its trunk space is slightly down in volume, from 450
|The E’s switchgear is superb. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
On that note, I wouldn’t be calling the new E-Class Coupe a 2+2. It’s really a classic two-door sedan, in that real adults can comfortably sit in all four positions. Climbing in back is easy thanks to a lever on the front seatback that automatically slides it forward to make an amply wide entry. When seated in one of its nicely sculpted rear seats, the front seat automatically returns to its previous position, with no additional adjustment required. My admittedly smaller than average five-foot-eight medium-build frame felt adequately pampered, with more than enough knee and foot room despite 66 mm (2.6 inches) cut from the E sedan’s wheelbase, plus enough headroom for a fully extended neck, although with only a couple of finger’s widths from the top of my crown to the sloping rear glass I could understand grumbles overheard from those
|The beautiful dash clock has such a clear crystal it looks like sapphire. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Driver’s seat ergonomics are spot on too, and what’s not inherently ideal for your unique needs can be adjusted to the nth degree. The aforementioned steering wheel is Nappa leather-wrapped and even flat-bottomed in base trim thanks to the E Coupe’s standard AMG package (that’s optional south of the 49th), but only in darker interior trims (beige doesn’t get it), and for reasons that don’t make much sense a heated rim can’t be had despite the steering column boasting standard powered actuation. I can feel my frostbitten digits as I write, and I’m a west coaster that doesn’t have a right to complain, but I’m hazarding a guess this issue will be remedied at some future point.
|A variety of hardwoods is available for personalization. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Now that we’re on about standard kit, the leather-clad 16-way powered front memory seats are heatable as are the noted armrests, while the 12.3-inch COMAND infotainment display gets navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD and satellite radio, a backup camera, and plenty more. Mercedes’ realistic feeling Artico leatherette is stitched together atop the dash and much of the instrument panel, upgradable to legit hides of course, while standard ambient lighting
|The seats are amazingly comfortable, especially when optioned with massaging function. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I’ve already noted the massive overhead glass, although neglected to mention the front glass benefits from Magic Vision Control wipers boasting heated blades with integrated washers, while no-cost options include beautifully sculpted slabs of open-pore light brown elm or piano black lacquered hardwood instead of the standard dark ash. Likewise the standard black roofliner is available in beige at no charge.
The packages mentioned earlier aren’t the only options available, with others including two available $3,300 designo interiors that add Black/Titanium Grey Pearl
|Six-foot adults fit in back comfortably. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|Coupes with sedan-sized trunks are always welcome. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Those blessed with impeccable taste should seriously consider the new E-Class Coupe.
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