The Mercedes-Benz E-Class cars have always been strong sellers in Canada, but for those buyers looking for the sporty look offered by a coupe design the choice was to either leave the Mercedes fold and shop elsewhere, or move up to the S-Class, or conversely, down the ladder to a C-Class. Last year Mercedes-Benz introduced the E-Class Coupe, which carries a sleek, aerodynamic design that immediately appeals to the eye, as well as improved efficiency and performance when compared to its sedan brethren.
A quick look through my gallery of images should spark your interest in this car, but I must admit, they also make the car look a little larger than it really is. This is especially true of the profile shots. The truth is the E-Class Coupe does not share its underpinnings with the E-Class Sedan. Instead, Mercedes-Benz engineers selected to build the car using a revised C-Class platform. This allowed the car to hit the street much lighter (135 kg / 298 lb.) than the E-Class Sedan which will prove beneficial when it comes to fuel efficiency. On the other hand, a lighter car feels much more nimble and after spending a week behind the wheel of my test vehicle I believe that enthusiast drivers will relish the handling delivered by this nimble feel of this slinky temptress.
The Mercedes-Benz E 350 Coupe features a 3.5-litre V6 mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. Rated at 268-horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque this ultra smooth engine delivers enough punch to make short work of extended climbs and freeway onramps. Some of my colleagues harped that this car needed a little more power. I disagree. I loaded the car with a trunk load of cargo and three of my friends and headed up and down Cypress Mountain in North Vancouver a few times. Even with the extra burden of a full complement of passengers and gear the car never missed a beat. In fact, the engine never seemed to struggle at all. And my friends aren’t jockeys. On the way down the windy mountain road the car felt planted to the pavement due to the added weight on board, but still delivered agile handling, and the brakes exhibited positive pedal feel and remained free of fade.
All E-Class models benefit from the incredibly efficient 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission which worked tirelessly to deliver power to the rear wheels as efficiently as possible. This innovative piece of engineering has been designed to adapt itself to your personal driving style, which proved very entertaining whenever I chose to explore the car’s handling and performance limits or select my own shift points using the paddle controls.
The chassis and suspension did an excellent job of smoothing out bumps on the weathered mountain road. The car comes equipped with Mercedes-Benz’s Agility Control suspension as standard, which automatically adjusts the dampers at each wheel according to the given situation. Unlike the floating cloud feel of your grandfather’s Oldsmobile 98, the ride on the E 350 Coupe is comfortable but preserves the road feel required to inspire confidence in the driver.
The standard Dynamic Handling Package includes speed-sensitive steering. The driver can select either a Comfort or Sport drive mode depending on his personal preferences. I tried both settings during my Cypress Mountain test runs and came away impressed. I tend to lean to the Sport settings when I am testing a vehicle on my own, but my passengers seemed to prefer the Comfort mode as the continuously variable damping delivered a ride refined enough for their inflated egos.
Opening the long door you immediately recognize how easy it is to access the rear passenger compartment. A power-operated switch resides on the outboard shoulder area of both front seats to move the seat forward on its rails and allow for efficient ingress and egress. Once inside I loves the fact that the frameless doors enhanced the open-air experience made possible in the Coupe by dropping all four side windows. At 6’2″I found the front seats roomy enough to allow for sufficient leg- and head-room to make even extended touring a possibility for my XXXL frame. The seats were firm and supportive, and outward visibility was excellent, despite the severely raked roofline.
Mercedes-Benz interiors always offer efficient ergonomics, but the focus is on passenger comfort and luxurious appointments. Once behind the wheel I found all the important controls within easy reach of both hand and eye, and in the case of my test unit, steering wheel mounted paddle shift levers were on board to allow me to keep my eyes on the road ahead. The three spoke, thick rimmed wheel flowed nicely through my hands and is fitted with a pair of multi-function thumb controls which permit the driver to operate many of the car’s accessories.
Standard equipment includes all the comfort and convenience features expected in a modern luxury car including dual-zone climate control, a premium audio system, active bi-xenon headlamps, LED taillights, rain-sensing wipers, panoramic sunroof, Sirius satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity.
Coupes are back, and in a big way, but few are as well built and attractive as the E-Class Coupe. The E 350 Coupe is an excellent choice for those buyers looking for a prestige offering that won’t break the bank at purchase or at the pump. For those looking for some more grunt I should point out that buyers can step up to the E 550 Coupe, which sports the company’s delicious 5.5-litre V-8 engine under the hood. With 382 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque this combination would be addictive.
Technical specifications: Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe
Base price (MSRP): $59,900 + 1,995 Destination and PDE
Type: 2-door, 4-passenger midsize coupe
Engine: 3.5-litre V6, DOHC, 24 valves
Horsepower: 268-hp @ 6,000 RPM
Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 2,400 RPM
Transmission: 7-speed sport automatic with manual mode and paddle shift
Brakes: Four-wheel disc
Cargo capacity: 450 litres (15.8 cu.ft.)
Fuel economy (L/100km): City- 11.9 (24 mpg); Highway- 7.6 (37 mpg)