This is the new E-class coupé. Unlike the E-class saloon it is based on, the E coupé is a full import and so costs Rs 64.5 lakh (on-road, Delhi), which is Rs 11 lakh more than the saloon. Is it so much more of a car to justify the price? Read on.
What Mercedes-Benz has done is taken the new E-class, sprinkled a bit of aggression on the front end, taken two doors out, removed the B-pillar and added flanks that resemble the S220 Pontoon coupé of 1955. With its shorter wheelbase and lowered stance, the result is a rather expensive-looking, eye-catching shape. Still, we couldn’t help but think it looks a bit too gentlemanly, a bit too mature.
You won’t be disappointed with the rest of the car though. Step in and there’s a familiar theme, with the angular dashboard, quality switchgear and associated trims mirroring those of the new E-class saloon. Crucially though, the sculpted steering wheel and the thinly padded front seats, with integrated headrests, are unique to the coupé. They’re also mounted a touch lower, providing a more sporting driving position, and the comparatively high waistline creates an enclosed feeling.
Now that the mood is set, twist the key (keyless go is an option) and the engine settles into a refined idle, much like the E350 saloon. Select ‘D’ and it glides off the line, the 3498cc V6 from the saloon effortlessly hauling the 1735kg coupé up to speed. It’ll behave like a gentleman all day, just like the saloon does, which is exactly what you expect from this Grand Tourer. However, it’s when you step on the gas that the E coupé sheds its loafers for a pair of sneakers. As the engine revs past 3500rpm, it gets raspier and more audible (not too loud, mind) than the saloon. It’s the only deviation from the calm, unruffled Merc character we are used to.
And that’s the thing. The E350 coupé doesn’t feel particularly quick, when it actually is. The coupé is so tied down to traditional Merc values and is so good at disguising speed that we thought it felt a tad too isolated for a car with sporting pretensions. It’s just that the engine’s power delivery is linear and at three-digit speeds, the car is almost as stable as Stonehenge. Nevertheless, performance is strong and the engine’s gutsy midrange and seven-speed ’box push it to 100kph in 7.6 seconds. It’ll also get to 200kph a full two seconds shy of the half-a-minute mark, which is pretty quick.
What will blow you away is the ride and handling sweet spot that this car sits in. Our test car came optional 18-inch AMG wheels that were running 40-profile tyres up front and g-string-like 35-profile ones at the rear. We expected some thumping, some crashing and a bit of discomfort. Not a chance. The car rides beautifully, absorbing bumps, staying level and isolating you from the road in a way only a Merc can, making us wonder how fantastic the ride must be on the standard 17-inch rims.
Push on and you’ll discover a car that is nice to drive too. You’ll find the steering weights up well, is backed up by excellent body control and a quick-witted gearbox and is a bit more agile than the saloon thanks to the shorter wheelbase. The trick lies with the dampers, which are the same as on the saloon. Dubbed the Agility Control system, the dampers firm up when you drive the car hard and go softer when you’re not pushing it. We liked it so much. We’ll stick our necks out and say it’s the best ride and handling combo we have ever seen. And that’s saying a lot.
Did we forget to mention the rear seats? Well, they are good on legroom but as expected, the swooping roofline makes headroom tight for six-footers. It’s a bit awkward to enter and exit the rear too – definitely not for short skirts. And while we’re on the interiors, we noticed the front seats aren’t fully powered, there are no paddleshifts and an electrically adjustable steering wheel is optional. These are things we believe should be standard on a car costing north of Rs 60 lakh.
Otherwise, it’s a brilliantly rounded car. If you drive yourself, don’t need the four doors and want something to set yourself apart from the standard E-class/5-series/A6 brigade, this is the car to go for.