I didn't know there was a coupe version of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class; is this a brand-new vehicle?
Mercedes-Benz stopped producing a coupe version of its E-Class in 1995. A year later they unveiled the two-door CLK, which, while based on the smaller C-Class, was closer in styling, price, and power to the E-Class of the time. Because of this, many have always thought of the CLK as a cousin to the E-Class rather than a brother to the C-Class. Going forward the CLK name will disappear, and its "successor" will be known as the E-Class Coupe. This makes for fewer names consumers have to remember, a stronger brand identity for the Mercedes-Benz E-Class line (which includes the recently introduced 2010 E-Class Sedan), and a move upscale positioning (though not in price).
So the E-Class Coupe is now based off of the new E-Class sedan?
You've probably heard a lot of talk about whether the new E-Class Coupe is based on the E-Class sedan or the current C-Class. While it shares the Agility Control suspension found in the C-Class Sport, 60% of the components and technology are shared with the new 2010 E-Class sedan, and most of it is the good stuff you care about like safety features, interior and exterior design, luxury appointments, and engine choices. And while we're at it, before you turn your nose up at the fact that the E-Class coupe shares components with the entry level C-Class, we should let you in on a little secret: Luxury manufacturers do this all the time! Yes, your Grandma's Lexus ES 330 is based on a Toyota Camry, and gasp, the new Rolls-Royce Ghost rides on a BMW frame. At the end of the day, the question you really should be asking yourself is how does the E-Class Coupe drive relative to the E-Class sedan?
Well, how would you compare the driving experience of the Coupe to the Sedan?
The E-Class Coupe is a more nimble vehicle than the E-Class sedan, and operates with 408 lbs. less in V-6 trim, and 331 lbs. less in V-8 trim. This weight difference also makes for a faster vehicle on paper, though not by a perceivable amount. And while the vehicle does a stellar job keeping body roll to a minimum, like the sedan, we wish the steering feel was firmer. Perhaps the biggest sensory difference to us was the exhaust note on the V-8. Whereas the sedan seems to do everything it can to hide from your ears the 5.5 liter, 382 horsepower engine under the hood, the E-Class Coupe celebrates it with an exhaust note the makes you say, "Oh yeah, that's why I paid an extra $6,600." One other thing to consider is that V-8 on the E-Class Coupe doesn't penalize you as badly on fuel mileage over the V-6 as it does on the sedan. With an estimated 16 city / 23 highway mpg to the V-6's 18 city / 26 highway mpg, the Coupe's V8 is only 11% worse on the highway, compared to the sedan's V-8 which is 20% worse over its V-6 counterpart.
Besides what's obvious on the exterior, what feature differences are there between the E-Class Sedan and Coupe?
There are some subtle changes to the E-Class Coupe to emphasize its more sporting nature over the sedan. For instance, the Nappa leather covered steering wheel has molded thumb grips, the shifter is placed in the center console as opposed to the steering column, and the Coupe's unique front seats are more contoured and bolstered than those found on the base sedan. Speaking of seats, the Coupe is strictly a four-person ride, replacing the sedan's rear bench with two buckets instead. The Coupe also comes with a standard panoramic roof to the sedan's standard sunroof, which makes the Coupe's smaller cabin feel much less claustrophobic. Finally, while night vision is available on the E-Class sedan, it is not an option on the Coupe due to the grill's giant Mercedes-Benz star (note on the sedan the Mercedes-Benz ornament is in the traditional, dare-you-to-try-and-take-it hood location).
What kind of safety features can I find on the Coupe?
All the same safety features found standard on the E-Class sedan can be found on the Coupe as well. This includes 9 airbags , 4-wheel ABS disc brakes with emergency brake assist, electronic stability control, active front head restraints, and Mercedes-Benz's newest safety innovation, Attention Assist Drowsiness Detection System, which uses 70 different inputs to detect if you are about to go Rip Van Winkle behind the wheel. The Coupe also has an optional system called Distronic Plus with PRE-SAFE Brake, which uses front mounted lasers to detect, signal, and mitigate impending collisions. Overall, an enormous amount of attention was paid to making the E-Class line even safer. In the development of the E-Class Sedan (pictured), over 150 real world crash tests were performed.
What do you think of the new styling relative to the outgoing CLK?
We prefer the harder, more aggressive lines on the new E-Class Coupe. The flat, smooth sides of the outgoing CLK (inset) look a bit boring next to the muscular flanks of the new E-Class Coupe, and same goes for the new front fascia as well. From this angle, however, the rear of the new E-Class Coupe looks a bit heavy, like wide hips in a pair of tight jeans on the Friday following Thanksgiving. We're glad the pillarless design (between the front and rear windows) was carried over into the new E-Class Coupe too; this really looks gorgeous in person. For comparison, look at an Audi A5 or BMW 6 Series for examples of coupes with a pillar in this location. On the inside the styling is evolutionary, with many of the exterior's sharper angles replicated on the interior as well. The major improvement for us is the placement of a larger COMAND screen more eye level with the driver. Mercedes has also done a better job breaking up visually the inside of the Coupe's doors with different colors and textures.
Will there be an AMG version?
No there won't. For the uninitiated, AMG is a subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz that builds highly-tuned versions of the regular Mercedes-Benz lineup. How year after year the massive G-Class gets an AMG version, but this Coupe does not is beyond us, but Mercedes believes anyone that would want an AMG version of an E-Class Coupe will be satisfied with the V-8. We don't buy it. If they were building an AMG version of the CLK for years, clearly there's an audience. There will be an AMG version of the E-Class sedan, the E63 AMG, and it looks awesome (pictured).
What is pricing on the Coupe and how would you configure it?
The V-6 E-Class Coupe has a base price of $48,050, which is $50 less than the outgoing CLK350 it replaces, and the V-8 E-Class Coupe will start at $54,650, or $2,150 less than the CLK550 V-8. Pricing isn't available yet on packages, but if you need GPS navigation, it comes bundled in the Premium 1 Package which also includes a harmon/kardon LOGIC7 surround-sound system, heated front seats, iPod/MP3 media interface, satellite radio, and rear view camera, which in the reduced visibility of a coupe can really come in handy. If you get the V-6, we think the 17" wheels are weak and would opt for the Sport Package, which includes 18” AMG twin 6-spoke alloy wheels (shown).
Can I expect a convertible version of the Coupe?
Absolutely, it has already been confirmed by Mercedes-Benz. It will likely debut at the 2010 Geneva Auto Show in March, which would mean we should see it starting in the summer of 2010 as a 2011 model. While we've seen spy shots that would lead one to believe Mercedes is testing a retractable hard top, our guess is it will likely remain a soft top like the current CLK convertible it replaces in order to keep costs down. For reference, the current V-6 CLK Convertible starts at $56,100, while the V-8 CLK Convertible has a base MSRP of $64,800.
What other vehicles might be on my shopping list?
If a coupe is your desire, the Audi A5 offers an easier price point entry at $40,700, which means you can load it up with features before you start getting to the base price of the V6 E-Class Coupe. Dimensionally they are roughly the same, though the A5 is a somewhat heavier vehicle. The A5 also comes standard with Audi's all-wheel drive Quattro system, something not available on the Mercedes Coupe, so if you live in a winter weather state, that might be a consideration for you. The S5 is the V-8 version of the A5, and would be a fair comparison for the V-8 E-Class Coupe, though it is slightly faster and much sportier. One thing of note is that the A5/S5 fuel economy is disappointing, and worse than the E-Class Coupe models. At $78,200, the BMW 6-Series might be on your radar if you were looking at the V-8 E-Class Coupe, and in our opinion the E gives you a better looking coupe for way less.Photo courtesy of: Audi