2013 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

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2010 Mercedes E-Class Coupe: Review

This 2010 review is representative of model years 2010 to 2013.
By Marc Lachapelle of MSN Autos
Rating: 8.5

Bottom Line:

These fifth-generation midsize Mercedes-Benz coupes are the best yet and at once more elegant and distinct than ever from the more practical E-Class Sedan, and rightfully so.
Pros:
  • Elegant, modern shape
  • Comfy, classy cabin
  • Big trunk for a coupe
Cons:
  • No 4Matic or AMG versions, yet
  • Sensitive to crosswinds
  • COMAND system frustrations

The CLK coupe is gone. Long live the new E-Class Coupe. Closely related to the new ninth-generation 2010 E-Class Sedan, this fifth-generation E Coupe — with its flowing lines and lower profile — is aimed at buyers looking for style, performance and handling.

The exclusivity and prestige bestowed by the big, three-pointed star mounted on the car's signature grille doesn't hurt either. Performance and looks aside, the century-old carmaker is also relying heavily on leading-edge safety and convenience technologies to help the new coupe succeed. Plus, Mercedes dropped the price, making it easier for the upwardly mobile to afford.

Model Lineup
Like its 4-door counterpart, the new E-Class Coupe shares core elements such as its newly designed suspension with the current C-Class. Yet it never strays far from the fundamental values that have made the midsize E-Class the heart of the Mercedes-Benz lineup for more than 60 years: luxury, solidity, safety and the promise of great durability. Now you can add value to that list.

The new E-Class Coupe will initially be offered in two versions: E350 and E550, basically defined by the engine size, like the CLK Coupes they replace. The new coupes are powered by the same engines as the last generation of CLKs, albeit with some efficiency gains. The E350 gets a 3.5-liter V6 and the E550 is equipped with a 5.5-liter V8. Unlike the Sedans, there are no plans for all-wheel-drive 4Matic versions of the Coupes, and Mercedes-Benz also believes there is no need for a high-performance AMG version, considering the performance of the E550 Sport model. On the other hand, an E-Class Cabriolet drop-top should be launched in the spring of 2010.

The new E-Class Coupe casts a larger shadow than the last CLK Coupe: Its body is 1.76 inches longer and 1.81 inches wider. It is also lower by a significant 2.89 inches and rides on a 1.76-inch-longer wheelbase, which accentuates its smooth, coupelike profile. European versions have a drag coefficient of 0.24, but the number goes up to 0.28 with the U.S. versions' wider tires. With the gain in size and the addition of several new features and systems, weight is up, but just a bit: The E350 is heavier by 97 pounds and the E550 by 61 pounds.

There is not a single body panel in common between the new E-Class Coupes and Sedans, but they do share a flared arch on their rear fenders that is a nod to the E-Class pioneer, the 1953 Ponton. The coupe's styling is more rakish, with a subtle "V" or arrow theme that is reflected from the grille to the rear fascia outside and in the instrument panel inside. A large 3-pointed Mercedes-Benz star in the grille distinguishes all Coupes from their Sedan cousins.

Like the larger CL-Class Coupes, the new E350 and E550 have four power side windows but no B-pillar, for a clean, classic hardtop look with all the windows down. Both models get a standard Panorama roof, a glass panel that covers the entire roof surface and can be tilted or slid open widely. The E550 is most visibly set apart from the E350 by its standard 18-inch wheels, larger chin spoiler, more sculpted side skirts and lower rear fascia. It also has larger, drilled disc brakes with painted calipers, and its dual chrome exhaust tips are trapezoidal while the E350 gets oval tips. Inside, the E550 also gets a 3-spoke sport steering wheel with shift paddles.

Coupes are all about styling, but these two bear the Mercedes star and thus come with a full complement of safety systems. They get the latest iterations of the requisite anti-lock brake and stability control systems, but are also equipped with the radar-based PRE-SAFE brake system and nine airbags. Also standard is ATTENTION ASSIST, a device that monitors steering angle and 70 other variables to detect signs of driver fatigue. It can be teamed with the optional Lane Keeping system, which uses a high-mounted camera to read painted lines on the road to alert the driver if the car wanders from its lane.

Another option is Adaptive Highbeam Assist, a system that automatically adjusts the intensity and pattern of the low beams for oncoming traffic. It is combined with the optional bi-xenon headlights that pivot into turns in sync with steering angle. The coupe can also be equipped with the DISTRONIC PLUS, a more advanced version of the automatic cruise-control system that can now stop the car and get it going again by itself. DISTRONIC PLUS comes with PRE-SAFE, which can apply full braking power to avoid or attenuate an impact. Also included in that package is Parking Guidance, which measures a parking spot and directs you into it but will not park the car automatically.

Under the Hood
The E350 coupe gets a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 268 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 258 lb-ft of torque from 2400 to 5000 rpm. This engine is equipped with counter-rotating balancers to cancel the inherent vibrations in a 90-degree V6. Official EPA numbers have not been published yet, but the E350 should be rated at 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway. The carmaker quotes a zero-to-60-mph time of 6.2 seconds for this model.

With a stated maximum output of 382 horsepower at 6000 rpm and a solid 391 lb-ft of torque spread from 2800 to 4800 rpm, the double-overhead-cam 32-valve V8 under the hood of the E550 makes it the current hot rod of this new family of E-Class Coupes, with a claimed zero-to-60-mph time of five seconds flat. Its projected fuel economy numbers are 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway.

Both engines in the new coupes are mated to an electronically controlled 7-speed automatic gearbox that locks its torque converter in all gears to save on fuel and will skip a few when it downshifts to pass quickly and safely. The E350 comes with a button that alternates between Comfort and Sport modes, the latter bringing first-gear starts and shift points at higher revs. In the E550, the button is marked with an "M" instead. Push it and you get a more aggressive shift pattern, quicker throttle response and firmer suspension settings. At any time you can shift with the steering-wheel-mounted paddles or by tapping the shift lever sideways.

Inner Space
As you would expect, the new E-Class Coupes flaunt sportier interior design elements, yet Mercedes has kept with the same classic polished burl walnut trim pieces as the more conservative Sedan. None of the aluminum or carbon-fiber trim available elsewhere is offered inside the E350 and E550 destined for the U.S. market. Both cars are nonetheless set apart from their 4-door siblings by their standard 3-branch sport steering wheel, more sculpted sport seats and an electronic shift lever placed on the center console.

The standard front seats are 10-way adjustable with 4-way lumbar support tweaks and three sets of memory settings for driver and passenger. The optional Appearance package includes Multicontour seats with even more adjustments, including extendable thigh support for the driver, black shift paddles for the E350 and a thicker-rimmed AMG steering wheel with a flat bottom for E550 models. The rear seats on both models are virtual bucket seats, but their tall head restraints are a hindrance to rear visibility for the driver.

Both models share the latest iteration of the COMAND interface for most systems. With its big aluminum control knob mounted on the console and a bright new 7-inch screen placed higher in the instrument panel, the system has been improved, but some functions remain needlessly complex and fragmented.

On the Road
The suspension in the new E-Class Coupes shares its basic design with the current, agile C-Class Sedan. The E350 coupe's standard "agility control" suspension has mechanically variable damping. A "sport" version, with firmer damping, is included with the optional "appearance" package. The E550 comes standard with a "dynamic handling" suspension that combines electronically adjustable shocks and modified throttle response.

E-Coupes have disc brakes all round with ABS and electronic brake force distribution and Brake Assist, which includes brake priming and drying. Front brake diameter is 13.5 inches with 4-piston fixed calipers on the E550 and 12.7 inches for the E350, with single-piston floating calipers. The discs share identical 11.8-inch-diameter rotors in the rear.

The E550 we drove felt stable and well-planted in corners but did not offer the firm, taut and fully buttoned-down handling we have come to expect of AMG versions at Mercedes-Benz. We think an E63 AMG Coupe would be just the ticket for this new family.

Right for You?
These new E-Class Coupes are slick, chic, comfy and replete with the latest electronic safety, comfort and convenience systems. Yet the biggest story here is the pricing. Just imagine: luxury coupes from Mercedes-Benz that are more affordable than their thoroughly competitive counterparts. The E350 coupe is priced at $48,050 and the E550 at $54,650. This is equal to 8.2 percent lower stickers than the CLK coupe, on a value-adjusted basis. Option packages can push the sticker upwards quickly, but there is no denying that these new E-Class Coupes are serious players in the luxury coupe market, and now they are also a better value.

A professional auto journalist for more than 25 years and the founding editor of Sympatico / MSN Autos, MarcLachapelle is a two-time winner of the Canadian Journalist of the Year award from the Automobile JournalistsAssociation of Canada, an accomplished photographer and licensed racer.

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BB04 - 8/23/2014 4:33:22 AM