WITH head-turning good looks and style by the bucket-load, wheelworldreviews editor DAVID HOOPER gets to know the new E-Class Coupe from Mercedes-Benz.
EVERY now and again, a car comes along that has the wow factor — and this is one of them.
The coupe version of the new E-Class, from Mercedes-Benz, has it by the bucket-load, a fact that quickly becomes evident when you take the wheel judging by the number of heads that spin to admire the car’s sleek lines as it glides past.
The E-Class Coupe is a two-door car, with seats for four and a reasonable sized boot. Open the door for the first time and you will notice that there are no frames for the side windows which retract fully into the doors. The rear windows also disappear into the bodywork at the push of a button, creating something akin to a convertible, especially if the large panoramic sunroof, a £1,315 optional extra, is opened. Small glass panels at the back of the glazed area are fixed, and help prevent buffeting inside the car.
The E-Class Coupe range starts from just under £30,000 and whichever model you choose, it is guaranteed to look good on your driveway, especially if it comes with a few styling tweaks from AMG, as this car did, with its 18in alloy wheels, front and rear aprons and side skirts.
The model I’ve been spending a few days with is the E350 Sport, which comes with a smooth three-litre V6 diesel engine, allied to a seven-speed automatic gearbox. The standard car cost £36,630, but the extras fitted to it took the price to a total of £42,560.
Open the long doors and slide into the driver’s seat, and you sit low in the car. As you pull the door shut, an arm extends to pass you the seat belt, so there’s no twisting round and scrabbling to find it as there is in many two-door cars.
The seats can be fine tuned to fit the shape of the driver perfectly. A selection of little wheels pump up various cushions built into the leather seats to adjust the lumbar support, side bolsters and front cushions.
As you would expect in a Mercedes, the interior is as plush as they come, and I was delighted to find that Mercedes has finally improved its menu system, which regular readers will know I often complain about. They are now much easier to navigate and a vast improvement which was long overdue.
Turning the key brings the V6 engine to life. It is so refined you can hardly tell you are driving a diesel, and it is so quiet inside the car it is only really heard when your foot is deployed firmly into the carpet.
Changing the seven gears is done automatically, although the driver has the option of taking charge of the shift points, by moving the gear selector to the left or right, or flicking the paddles on the back of the steering, which can take a little practice to perfect.
Power delivery is smooth and pretty much relentless, and the mid-range punch of this car is impressive, so overtaking slower A-road traffic can be done quickly and safely.
I did a lot of driving in this car in the dark, and was impressed with the automatic main beam. The first time it worked it took me by surprise – I thought I’d knocked the main beam switch by mistake, but I hadn’t. The car will switch the headlights on and off all by itself, depending on surrounding traffic.
With over 230PS on tap, getting the power down on damp and greasy roads through the rear wheels can be a bit of a challenge if the car is driven enthusiastically, but the traction control system works well, quickly catching a wheel which temporarily loses traction.
In dry conditions though, the E-Class Coupe is a most enjoyable car to drive quickly. Its handling is sharp, the steering responses good and the body control, even without the sport setting selected, is impressive. Pressing the “Sport” button on the centre console brings the £490 Dynamic Handling Package into play. This firms up the continuously variable suspension and sharpens the responses from the accelerator and gearshift paddles, which only serve to heighten the enjoyment.
At slower speeds, it is also easy to manoeuvre and park, thanks to sensors fore and aft, and a reversing camera (£375) which gives a clear picture on the 7in screen which itself comes as part of the Comand multimedia system (£2,175), which includes sat nav, a six-disc CD changer, iPod connectivity, Linguatronic voice control and too many other gadgets to list here.
Despite its big engine and impressive performance – 0-62mph takes just 6.7 seconds – the car returned almost 40mpg on a trip down the M1 to Nottingham. During my few days with the car, which involved a lot of town driving, its trip computer recorded 28.9mpg.
These impressive figures are thanks in no small part to Mercedes-Benz BlueEfficiency technology, which among other things fills in the gaps between the panels to improve airflow, reduces the voltage the car needs to operate, which in turn reduces the strain on the engine, and therefore fuel consumption.
Low rolling-resistance tyres also help, and on some models Start/Stop systems turn off the engine when the car is stationary, a feature which is now standard on the A and B Class models, and will be added to other ranges in due course.
The E-Class Coupe is a fabulous looking car which is as good to drive as it is to look at. Equally suited to a cross-country sprint, or a longer grand tour, it has to be the perfect travelling companion.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Mercedes-Benz E350 CDI BlueEfficiency Sport.
E-CLASS COUPE RANGE: From 200 CGI BlueEFFICIENCY SE (£29,370) to 500 Sport (£49,990).
ENGINE: 2987cc, 231PS V6-cylinder engine, driving rear wheels through 7-speed automatic gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 179g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 155mph.
0-62mph in 6.7 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 31.7mpg.
Fuel tank: 66 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 17.
WARRANTY: 3 years, unlimited mileage.