REVIEW DATE: 27 Feb 2009
The Mercedes E-Class has always done comfort and quality well: can it do sporty too? Steve Walker checks out the E-Class Coupe.
Mercedes hasn't always been the manufacturer of choice for those seeking a coupe of the sleek and sporty variety. There have been hits along with the misses but for the most part, recent two-door efforts bearing the three-pointed star have been comfortable and quick without managing to get the keen driver's blood pumping or thrill spectators with their dazzling lines. That could be about to change with the E-Class Coupe gunning for top spot in the large premium coupe segment.
This Mercedes coupe comes as a replacement for the long-serving CLK but while that car was based on a mix of C-Class and E-Class underpinnings, there are no prizes for guessing that the E-Class Coupe is wholly based on the larger E-Class saloon. Despite these executive car foundations, the obvious rivals for the big Merc are the BMW 3-Series Coupe and the Audi A5, cars which are both based on compact executive models. Mercedes will be counting on the additional size of the E-Class platform attracting Coupe buyers seeking additional practicality and comfort while also attempting to match the BMW and the Audi for driver enjoyment. With the elegant CLS four-door coupe also on its books, the brand looks particularly strong in this sector.
The core of the E-Class Coupe engine range is made up of two CGI direct injection petrol engines and two CDI common-rail diesels. The entry-level E250 CGI doesn't get the 2.5-litre V6 the name might suggest but a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that still manages to produce 204bhp. The E350 CGI is a V6 and with 292bhp on tap, it packs even more of a punch. The entry-level diesel is the 2.2-litre twin-turbo found in the E250 CDI. It has the same 204bhp output as the base petrol engine but it comprehensively out muscles that unit with 500Nm of torque from 1,600Nm: that's more than a BMW M3. The E350 CDI gets a six-cylinder diesel unit with 231bhp and 540Nm torque. If you want to go faster, you'll need the 388bhp V8 petrol of the E500 or a little patience until the 450bhp E63 AMG model comes on stream.
".now even the blue-blooded E-Class has a racy Coupe version to inject some extra dynamism."
The Agility Control suspension system is standard on all E-Class Coupe models. It's an electronic system that adjusts the damping force applied according to the prevailing driving conditions. When cruising, it softens things up to increase comfort but pull an evasive manoeuvre or take a corner at higher speeds and full damping force is applied for greater stability and control. Agility Control sports suspension is an option that firms up the car's ride and on the Sport and high performance models, there's the Dynamic Handling Package which electronically controls the suspension set-up allowing the driver to switch between comfort and sport modes. It works in tandem with the speed-sensitive sports steering that also features on Sport models. The four-cylinder cars get a six-speed manual gearbox while the larger engines are mated to a seven-speed auto.
The two-door E-Class Coupe builds upon the bold styling direction of the latest E-Class saloon with its split headlight clusters, LED fog lights and chunky grille bearing the oversize Mercedes badge. The sleek shape is hugely aerodynamic with its curving roofline and low spoilers producing a drag coefficient that even eclipses that of the economy-focused Toyota Prius. At the rear, the stubby boot and flared wheelarches contrast with the car's long bonnet and add to its purposeful stance.
Compared to the old CLK, the E-Class Coupe is 46mm longer and wider by the same amount. It also has a 45mm longer wheelbase which equates to greater room inside. The rear bench is split into two individual seats, so travelling five-up is not an option but the back rest can be folded down to increase the luggage capacity. The interior design is largely carried over from the saloon and so is much of the advanced technology that defines the E-Class model line. The control system with its rotary dial on the centre console marshals the various functions of the infotainment system which can be upgraded via the options list to offer the full array of navigation and entertainment functionality.
SE and Sport versions of the E-Class are offered each with materials and specifications selected to create a different atmosphere inside the car. The Sport model will appeal to those seeking a sporting coupe with its more aggressive spoilers, 18" AMG alloy wheels, sports suspension and upgraded brakes. The SE, meanwhile, will be more in tune with traditional Mercedes-Benz coupe buyers who tend to value luxury and comfort over keen handling and imposing looks.
A vast array of safety equipment is included on the E-Class Coupe with Mercedes employing sensors, cameras and radar systems to turn the E-Class into an 'intelligent partner' for its driver. Many of the more advanced features are restricted to the options list but to give you an idea of the car's potential for keeping its occupants out of trouble, here's a rundown of the cleverest systems. Attention Assist monitors 70 different parameters to identify driver drowsiness and warn if it is detected. Pre-Safe detects an imminent collision and primes the seatbelts and airbags so that they can work more effectively in the event. Distronic Plus is the radar-guided cruise control system but on the E-Class is can detect a sudden reduction in distance to the car in front and brake to a standstill using the Brake Assist Plus technology. Finally, the Adaptive Main Beam Assist function takes adaptive headlamps to the next level by continuously adjusting the direction of the beam to give the best possible illumination of the road ahead.
The four mainstream engine options in the E-Class Coupe are badged BlueEFFICIENCY which means that they employ the manufacturer's latest environmental technologies. Considering the performance these units can generate, the economy figures make impressive reading with the E250 CDI capable of returning 53.3mpg on the combined cycle and emitting just 139g/km of CO2. Even the petrol units do sterling work in this area, the E250 CGI managing over 40mpg and 164g/km.
There's been a concerted effort to target a younger clientele evident in lots of recent Mercedes-Benz product launches and now even the blue-blooded E-Class has a racy Coupe version to inject some extra dynamism into the range. The familiar Mercedes focus on comfort and technology remains but this sleek two-door shows an athleticism that should make it more palatable to a breed of buyer who may have avoided the three-pointed star in the past.
The results below show the top E CLASS deals on buyacar
|Mercedes Benz E Class E220 CDI SE 4dr Tip Auto diesel saloon|
|Price £28,514||Save £5,406|
|Mercedes Benz E Class E220 CDI AMG Sport 4dr Tip Auto diesel saloon|
|Price £30,902||Save £5,633|
|Mercedes Benz E Class E220 CDI SE 5dr Tip Auto diesel estate|
|Price £30,277||Save £5,568|
|Mercedes Benz E Class E250 CDI AMG Sport 4dr Tip Auto diesel saloon|
|Price £33,220||Save £5,865|
|Mercedes Benz E Class E250 CDI AMG Sport 5dr Tip Auto diesel estate|
|Price £34,862||Save £6,028|
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|For E-CLASS COUPE|
|OVERALL||7.7 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||8|
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