The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe is now more desirable. Jonathan Crouch checks out the latest version.
The E-Class Coupe. It's the kind of car that Mercedes does very well: a luxury coupe with a prestigious badge that rewards you for a lifetime's endeavour without necessarily needing a lottery win. No other brand can replicate this recipe in quite the same way - and no other brand has a car quite like this one. Yes, the same kind of budget would buy you a BMW 4 Series Coupe or an Audi A5 but these cars don't have the GT grandeur of this E-Class. And anyway, they're separately targeted by Mercedes' C-Class Coupe model. This current, much improved E-Class Coupe can look back on half a century of history. Its first ancestor was unveiled by Mercedes-Benz in 1968 (at that time known as the "Stroke Eight" coupe). Further model series followed - for a while under the name CLK. Each generation combined superb design with agile sportiness and contemporary luxury. Has that continued here? Let's see.
As you'd expect, this E-Class Coupe shares its engineware with the E-Class saloon, which means now more extensive use of the brand's mild hybrid 48V electrified technology. This features an Integrated Starter Generator, which uses an electric alternator fitted directly to the nine-speed automatic gearbox. This tech now features on the top version of the brand's 2.0-litre diesel unit (in the E 400d) and in the in-line six cylinder petrol engine of a fresh variant, the E 450. Either way, this mild hybrid set-up offers an electric boost of up to 20bhp in certain situations. Across the range, the engine line-up offers two diesels and three petrol units at launch, varying between 2.0 and 3.0 litres in capacity and producing between 192bhp and 362bhp. There's also a top Mercedes-AMG E 53 variant which uses a 429bhp twin turbocharged 3.0-litre six cylinder petrol engine with 4MATIC 4WD. With this sixth generation E-Class Coupe, Mercedes made greater efforts to differentiate the driving experience from that of the Saloon by widening the track, sharpening the steering and lowering the ride height. It's all part of the development of what must be a very delicate balance of dynamic virtues. Mercedes wants this car to be perceived as a 'Grand Tourer' - a kind of junior Bentley GT - but it also knows that many likely buyers will have been considering pricier versions of slightly smaller coupe models like the BMW 4 Series and the Audi A5. This E-Class Coupe can't be too much of a step away from those cars when it comes to the enjoyment on offer should you want to drive it hard. In many ways, it isn't. True, at speed through tight turns, there's still more body lean than you'd find with the premium rivals just mentioned and the steering, though now better than it is on other E-Class models, still isn't very talkative when it comes to communicating much about what the wheels beneath you are doing. Push through that though and you'll find surprisingly high levels of grip, traction and balance and through fast, flowing corners, this car has as fine a chassis balance as you could wish for.
Design and Build
Buyers wanted this car to look sportier, so it now does. There are flatter full-LED headlamps which sit either side of a re-styled 'A-shape' radiator grille which features chrome-plated dots, a single louvre and the Mercedes star in the centre. The muscular rear section gets restyled LED light clusters too. Otherwise, things are much as before, with classic coupe proportions that deliver a long bonnet, an elongated side line, a flat roof profile and the feature we most like, the absence of a central B-pillar. Together with a frameless window design, this latter styling touch means that you've only to open everything up to get a wonderful sense of airy freedom that's further enhanced if you've also selected the optional sunroof. Slip behind the wheel and if you're familiar with the pre-facelift version of this MK6 model, the main change you'll notice might well be the new split-three spoke steering wheel, which has more responsive touch-sensitive buttons. The standard offering sees the front of the cabin dominated by a couple of 10.25-inch screens, one for the instruments and the other for the infotainment functions. These are upgraded to 12.3-inches in size further up the range or at extra cost. What's really different though, is the fact that these monitors now work with the brand's latest MBUX interface, which means that you get far more sophisticated "Hey Mercedes" voice control and a lower touch-sensitive pad to replace the previous click wheel controller. As before, it does of course all feel suitably premium, with leather-covered doors and subtle ambient lighting. The rear seat offers more space than any other Coupe in the segment - this really is almost a proper adult 4-seater. But the 425-litre boot is surpassed in size by rivals.
Market and Model
Mercedes thinks a Coupe should cost more than an ordinary saloon, so if you've a four-door E-Class and want this smarter two-door option, you'll have a premium of around £1,000 to find, assuming you're comparing like-for-like engines and specs. In that regard, bear in mind that this Coupe comes only in AMG Line trim. All of that means that overall E-Class Coupe pricing starts at around £45,000 and runs up to around £70,000. That means quite a big price premium over an equivalent C-Class Coupe - around £12,500. We can see many buyers being quite happy to pay that. There's a kind of 'junior Bentley' feel about this car that gives it a more up-market feel than you'd get in any C-Class. Yet the outlay needed for ownership shouldn't require too many potential owners to need a lottery win first. With this revised model, there's an optional 'Urban Guard' theft protection pack. And numerous upholstery material combinations are available, ranging from fabric to ARTICO man-made leather, embossed leather and nappa leather with diamond quilting. You're probably going to want the upgrade to the larger 12.3-inch infotainment screens. And possibly also to the ENERGIZING comfort control set-up, which networks various comfort systems in the vehicle, and uses musical and lighting moods plus a number of massage modes to meet a wide range of individual requirements with respect to the occupants' wellbeing.
Cost of Ownership
Many E-Class engines are now embellished with a bit of mild hybrid tech which sees an EQ Boost starter-alternator motor mounted on the 9-speed auto gearbox. It's a key component of the 48-Volt on-board electrical system. The mild hybrid system adds another 16kW (or around 20hp) of boost to the total power output and 250Nm of extra torque and has been designed for maximum energy recuperation and the virtually imperceptible restarting of the engine with the start/stop function. There's also a gliding mode that disconnects the engine from the gearbox at a cruise. This powertrain also incorporates an exhaust gas after-treatment system mounted near the engine and a standard-fit particulate filter, the only part of the exhaust system that's under the floor. You shouldn't get your hopes up too much for the difference all this will make; the WLTP combined cycle fuel reading for the E 220d is around 50mpg and the WLTP-rated CO2 return is up to 131g/km. Even the top E 450 4MATIC petrol variant manages around 30mpg and up to 184g/km. Another thing we'll need to tell you is that the comprehensive three year unlimited mileage warranty is built upon by Mercedes' Mobilo scheme which delivers breakdown cover for up to thirty years, as long as you continue to have your car serviced at a Mercedes main dealer. And it's worth knowing that your maintenance outlay can be kept a little in check by going for the optional Service Care package that takes care of routine maintenance, spreading the cost of regular servicing, guaranteeing the price of parts and labour for up to four services and covering the cost of all recommended service items such as brake fluid, spark plugs, air filters, fuel filters and screen wash.
The improvements made to this E-Class Coupe - the more efficient engines, the smarter looks, the extra equipment - have certainly been welcome but the essence of its appeal has changed very little. As you'd expect, it delivers the powerful, luxurious, Grand Touring sports coupe brand values you'd expect from a £45,000-£70,000 luxury Mercedes coupe. In driving it, in owning it, you feel another more elegant level away from owners of the brand's less aspirational C-Class Coupe. And a cut above the sporting two-door models that car competes with, coupes like BMW's 4 Series and Audi's A5. There's a maturity and a class here that these sportier rivals lack. They could never be considered as a wise and cost-efficient alternative to spending £30,000-£40,000 more on a Maserati GranTurismo or a BMW 8 Series. This Mercedes could be. And that about sums it up.