We attended the international launch of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe in Barcelona, Spain, to give the svelte 2-door version of the Sindelfingen-based marque's executive sedan a whirl…
If you factor out the A-Class-based so-called "4-door coupe", the CLA, the E-Class Coupe represents the mid-point in Benz's alluring coupe range; it slots in above the popular C-Class Coupe and the S-Class Coupe flagship and currently has little competition from traditional rivals... The F10-derived BMW 6 Series is comparatively long in the tooth, Audi and Jaguar may produce coupe versions of its (next-generation) A6 and XF models (but that remains to be seen) and Lexus' recently-unveiled LC range seems to straddle the executive and first class segments. The E-Class Coupe therefore – and, for now at least – is the most sophisticated and technologically advanced executive coupe to come to market.
When is the E-Class Coupe coming to SA?
The E-Class Coupe is expected to arrive in South Africa in May 2017 with 3 derivatives launching locally.
Mercedes-Benz South Africa will introduce the E-Class Coupe in South Africa in May 2017. The European range comprises the E220d, E200, E300 and the range-topping E400 4Matic, but our market will only receive the E220d, E300 and E400 4Matic. What’s more, the recently revealed E-Class Cabriolet will complete the range when it arrives in South Africa in the third quarter of 2017.
Let’s get the numbers out the way, shall we? Kicking off the E-Class Coupe range is the E220d, powered by a new 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine with peak outputs of 143 kW and 400 Nm. This engine emphasises efficiency and Mercedes-Benz claims a fuel consumption figure of 4.0 L/100 km.
The petrol-powered E300 is fitted with a 2.0-litre turbopetrol motor (180 kW/370 Nm) with a claimed fuel consumption figure of 6.4 L/100 km, while the range is headlined (at least initially) by the all-wheel drive E400 4Matic that delivers 245 kW and 480 Nm of torque from its 3.0-litre V6 turbopetrol motor. Claimed fuel consumption is rated at 8.1 L/100 km. All derivatives make use of a quick-shifting 9-speed automatic transmission.
Ride comfort is provided by the standard Direct Control suspension while Dynamic Body Control (adaptive damping) and Air Body Control (multi-chamber air suspension) will be offered as extra-cost options.
Bigger and better
Based on the E-Class sedan, the coupe is larger (in all dimensions) than its predecessor, which means it is markedly more spacious.
Compared with the outgoing model, the E-Class Coupe has grown substantially in terms of virtually all its dimensions. It’s 123 mm longer, 74 mm wider and stands 33 mm higher than its predecessor. The wheelbase has been stretched by 113 mm and the front and rear track widths have increased by 67 and 68 mm, respectively. To complement its sporty looks, the coupe sits 15 mm lower than the E-Class sedan.
In terms of design, the E-Class Coupe is undeniably gorgeous in the metal. The long (power dome) bonnet, single-louvred diamond grille and standard LED headlamps (Multibeam LED headlamps are optional) combine to give the E-Class Coupe a powerful kerb presence.
Viewed from the side, the cabin is set further back and the frameless windows and absence of a B-pillar further emphasise the coupe’s sleek proportions. The rear end features stretched, 2-part LED taillight clusters with a unique glowing crystal effect that, according to Benz, "resembles the glow of a jet engine". They also feature a welcome/goodbye feature that illuminates outwards/inwards when the car is unlocked/locked.
In our opinion, the new E-Class Coupe is a serious head-turner with looks that oozes appeal and sophistication.
Classy interior packed with technology
The interior of the E-Class Coupe is stylish and comfortable with a wide range of trim and materials available to customers.
The interior design of the E-Class Coupe mostly follows that of the sedan version with an attractive horizontal, wrap-around fascia design. A key differentiating feature in the coupe is the rather sporty-looking turbine air vent design with a silver shadow finish. The interior is classy, luxurious and elegant with quality finishes. A wide variety of trims and finishes will be available.
Perhaps the most prominent feature in the coupe is the optional Widescreen Cockpit, first seen in the E-Class sedan. It combines a pair of large 12.3-inch digital displays, creating a long screen stretching out towards the central dashboard. The instrument cluster can be customised with a choice of 3 themes including Classic, Sport and Progressive, depending on your preference, while the screen to the right handles functions such as infotainment and navigation. We think the Widescreen Cockpit is a must-have feature as it lifts the interior ambience substantially.
A new turbine air vent design and the Widescreen Cockpit are highlights in the new E-Class Coupe.
Both screen functions can be controlled using the handy touch control buttons on the steering wheel or, alternatively, you can use the familiar touchpad controller located in the centre console (although it works best in left-hand-drive cars if you're right-handed). The new E-Class Coupe also features a head-up display that conveniently projects information such as speed, speed limits and navigation directly in the driver’s line of sight.
The seats are well-bolstered and comfortable and various colour and material combinations will be available. What’s is immediately noticeable while seated in the E-Class Coupe is the abundance of space, particularly for the front passenger, who will enjoy generous leg-, shoulder- and headroom. Two individual seats are found in the rear and thanks to the coupe’s larger dimensions, rear passengers are afforded additional leg-, head- and shoulder room, which will be boons on longer journeys. The boot capacity is quite spacious too, with a maximum of 425 litres at your disposal.
Rear passengers have more space thanks to the E-Class Coupe's larger dimensions.
Two equipment grades will be offered for the new E-Class Coupe: (the standard) Avantgarde and the optional AMG Line. Customers will also be able to opt for the Night Package for both grades; it adds various gloss black design details and dark-tinted windows.
Lastly, the E-Class Coupe is also equipped with an adaptive windscreen cleaning system called Magic Vision Control. Where conventional windscreen cleaning systems will spray water (and detergent) all over the windscreen, effectively blurring the driver’s vision, this new system is far more efficient. Water ducts integrated into the wiper blade sprays water directly ahead of the blade on both sides.
This means that the water is applied directly where it’s needed and the driver’s vision remains clear at all times. The wiper blades are fully heated and operate according to the outside temperature which is particularly useful should you have ice on your windscreen...
What’s it like to drive?
The E-Class Coupe offers good ride quality and this E220d is a particularly efficient cruiser.
The launch route started at Barcelona Airport and our first drive was behind the wheel of the E220d coupe. In an effort to prevent the media contingent from getting lost in a foreign land, a number of routes were pre-loaded into the Comand Online infotainment system. With Comand Online, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can also be accessed using your smartphone.
A quick word on connectivity: Qi-compatible smartphones can be charged wirelessly on a charging pad while paired with the infotainment system via Near Field Communication (NFC), which effectively turns your smartphone into a digital key, allowing the driver to lock/unlock the car and even start the engine. Also, Remote Parking Pilot, used in conjunction with an app, allows you to park the E-Class Coupe using your phone. It’s pretty smart…
The Widescreen Cockpit is easily configurable and although the navigation works well generally, it did occasionally send us on the incorrect route.
On start-up, the E220d’s turbodiesel engine is barely audible and we found it to be relatively quiet and refined while in operation. The rather light steering feel helped with navigating the congested roads in Barcelona and the E-Class Coupe’s excellent cruising ability became apparent as we headed out on the highway towards our destination some 150 km away at the PGA Catalunya Resort near Girona.
The E220d was a pleasure to drive as it effortlessly dispensed its power and offered ample overtaking ability. The open highway also gave us the opportunity to test the E-Class Coupe’s Distance Pilot Distronic with Steering Pilot. This semi-autonomous driving aid lets you adapt and maintain the distance from the car ahead of you and you can now follow the vehicle ahead at speeds up to 210 kph.
While the system is active, the driver is not required to brake or accelerate and the Steering Pilot will keep the car on course at speeds up to 130 kph. If you frequently sit in traffic jams, little or no steering input is required from the driver. Active Lane Change Assist will also effectively help you change lanes safely by steering into a lane once the radar and camera system deem it safe to do so. The car will, however, regularly encourage you to keep your hands on the steering wheel. It’s brilliant technology, but it can be quite intimidating to use at first.
The E400 4Matic tops the E-Class Coupe range and this Edition 1 derivative is particularly appealing.
Highway soon gave way to winding country roads and we decided to test the E220d’s performance in the bends. Using the Dynamic Select switch in the centre console, the driver can switch between various driving modes (Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport+ and Individual). We opted for Sport mode and put the E220d through its paces on long, sweeping stretches of tar and although the car handled well, the efficiency-oriented derivative didn’t revel in that scenario. It much preferred being driven more conservatively; cruising is a clear strength of the E220d – it does it with utter poise.
The indicated fuel efficiency was good too... During our stint in the E220d, the readout revealed an average 6.5 L/100 km. Yes, the E220d is perhaps not the most fervent performer in the range, but its ride quality and cruising prowess are easy to appreciate.
If you want a bit more oomph from your E-Class Coupe, the E300 offers extra punch and the difference is noticeable. The driver can further exploit the engine’s performance by using the mounted shift paddles to engage manual gear selection. The exhaust note in the E300 is livelier in Sport or Sport+ mode and it feels more willing to perform. Under a heavy foot, the E300 is also much thirstier and we averaged in the region of 12 L/100 km during our drive, but this should be of little concern for your average E-Class owner. On balance, the E300 is a solid performer and seems to strike a good balance between comfort and the odd spirited driving stint.
If you are after (measured) performance thrills, the E400 4Matic is a winner. Its claimed 0 to 100 kph time is a swift 5.3 seconds (E220d – 7.4 sec; E300 – 6.4 sec). We sampled the Edition 1 and, equipped with 4Matic all-wheel drive, the E400 was by far the most athletic derivative in the launch line-up. Its exhaust note is more audible and defined, emitting an inkling of rorty goodness when the revs climb, but we felt it could have been a bit more vocal. The added performance will culminate in the decimation of fuel and the readout showed upwards of 15 L/100 km on our route.
The E-Class Coupe is attractive and suitably sophisticated and its technology offering is impressive.
The E-Class Coupe is an eminently luxurious road machine that delivers an excellent ride quality, making it a superbly comfortable long-distance cruiser. All the derivatives we drove displayed impeccable road manners (they were admittedly fitted with either the optional Direct Body Control or Air Body Control suspension, both of which enhance driving comfort), so it remains to be seen how the E-Class Coupe will ride with the standard Direct Body Control setup. However, if comfort is important to you then the optional suspension systems may very well be worth the extra outlay.
Allied with its head-turning exterior treatment, the Benz presents a cabin that is stylish and sumptuous in equal measures. Considering the high levels of occupant comfort and the broad range of technology on offer, the E-Class Coupe is undeniably a segment leader. We have to criticise the navigation system, however. For the most part it worked well, but there were moments when the system seemed to be mute and then suddenly became confused, resulting in us having to use common sense to get back on the correct course...
The E220d lacks somewhat in outright performance, but makes up for the shortfall by returning good fuel economy figures. The E300 is more eager and characterful, but if you want dynamism the E400 4Matic is the way to go. The only variant absent from the E-Class Coupe range is an AMG and when questioned on this matter, Benz representatives held their cards close to their chest, refusing to confirm, or more importantly, deny its arrival. There's no reason to believe that an AMG E-Class Coupe won't be introduced; we think it will be a welcome addition to the range. Watch this space!
Local pricing is expected to be confirmed soon; we will keep you posted...
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