Mercedes E Class Coupe Review
It’s very tempting to take what I’ve written about the C-Class Coupe and simply enlarge the text by 5%, and there’s an element of truth in the fact that the E-Class Coupe is much the same as its little brother.
However, it sits in a unique slot in the market, larger, plusher and more exclusive than the Audi A5 and BMW 4 Series, but smaller and more affordable than the Audi A7 and BMW 6 Series.
It’s also built around the underpinnings of the E-Class saloon, a car we love. Does taking the sensible body shell off that and replacing it with a proper two-door coupe silhouette make it better or worse?
Select's rating score* - 3.9 / 5
Like much of the Mercedes-Benz range, there’s a huge diversity of models in the E-Class Coupe model line up. There’s a sensible 2.0-litre diesel model, a four-wheel-drive variant, and a crazy 435hp sports version. Granted, none of them come cheap, but there’s almost something for everyone.
Externally, it looks like an ordinary saloon car and looks a million dollars; the car starts reasonably sensibly at the front, sharing much with the E-Class, before it turns into a sleek, rakish coupe somewhere around the door frame.
And it is a proper coupe. Many rivals squeeze four doors in, making an impractical saloon or hatchback rather than a traditional two-door coupe, but that’s seemingly not the Mercedes way. Instead, you’ve got two long doors leaving a small gap to climb into the rear seats, should you ever choose to use them.
But you won’t as the E-Class Coupe, whilst practical enough, is about looking good and crushing continents with you and the best road trip companion you can find.
Turning a large saloon car into a two-door coupe means there’s only one important key feature - it’s got to look epic. Mundane, sensible or practical don’t cut it when you’re putting £500 a month or more into something more expensive yet intentionally less capable than the car it’s based on.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all that, but the E-Class’ transformation into a Coupe has resulted in an elegant, almost beautiful car.
An aggressive, but not too frightening, front end isn't far removed from the saloon car but, at the windscreen, it changes into a sweeping, dramatic silhouette that echoes classic coupes of every decade. And then there’s the rear, which is simple, elegant and distinctive.
Pillarless doors combine with a rear side window that slides away completely to leave an unrestricted window opening the length of the car. Stunning.
The proportions are delicate yet athletic, balancing style and sportiness perfectly. A coupe must be dramatic, and Mercedes has nailed it.
Who would have thought that, in these forward-looking times, anyone would suggest that a diesel engine is the best choice for a coupe? However, that’s what I’m doing. It might only have a 2.0-litre capacity, but the E300d and its 245hp output seems like the perfect match for a lazy, comfortable coupe.
The nine-speed automatic gearbox makes it smooth and relaxed, whether you’re pootling around Poole or hammering it to Harrogate. Take the relaxed route and the 500Nm of torque will see you arrive unruffled, the revs barely rising as the scenery moves past the window at pace.
Put your foot down and it’ll lift its side skirts and push to 62mph in just 6.3 seconds before, where it’s legal and possible, heading on to an electronically-limited maximum speed of 155mph.
Other models are quicker; the E400d uses an engine 50% bigger to reach 62mph just 12 seconds quicker, while the petrol-powered E350, E450 and crazy AMG E53 will knock 0.4, 0.7 and 1.9 seconds off that time. The latter, in car terms, might as well be a year. Even the entry-level models, the E220d and E300, aren’t exactly slowcoaches.
Adjustable suspension helps to change the characteristics of the E-Class Coupe depending on your demands. Stiffer or softer dampers help the car feel sporty or relaxed, but there’s not much point - the Coupe might be long, low and sleek but it’s more suited to cruising down to Nice for the weekend than it is tackling a cross country road. It’s numb and unrewarding when pushing hard, but there is plenty of grip available and it’s surprisingly well balanced.
It’s compliant enough to make for a comfortable ride, but you’ll feel the remnants of small undulations and surface changes making their way into the cabin. You might look jealousy at the air suspension system fitted to the E53 and, yes, it does smooth out the road a little more, but it’s not available on lesser models, even as a cost option.
Once you’ve settled into making your monthly payments - which might not be as much as you think due to the excellent residual values - you’ll find the most expensive cost you’ll face will undoubtedly be fuel. Weighing up to two tonnes(although most are around 1.8 tonnes) the E-Class Coupe is a brute that requires a lot of energy to get moving.
That said, the E220d, and even the more powerful E300d, are surprisingly frugal. Officially, there’s as much as 52.3mpg to be achieved from the E220d model and, on a long, gentle cruise, you might just get close to that. Do anything more demanding and the economy suffers significantly, but you could scrape 40mpg as an average.
Petrol models promise just over 30mpg, even for the powerful E53 models, but don’t expect anything beyond about 25mpg in the real world.
Once you’re past that, there’s the annual tax bill. All cars now pay much the same, unless they’re electric, which means there’s the usual £150 tax bill to cover. However, every model in the E-Class Coupe range tops £40,000, so the government slap on an extra rich tax of £345 for years two to six.
Servicing costs don’t come too cheap either, although Mercedes will allow you to pay a monthly fee for your annual service rather than face a larger bill. At £37 a month, that works out at £444 a year. Lower mileage drivers will need an annual service, but those covering higher miles will have to rely on the car’s self-analysis that alerts you when a service is due. Those with a heavy right foot will be seeing their dealer more often than those cruising gently into the countryside.
The diesel models produce fewer emissions, as you might expect, but even the entry-level E220d pumps out 165g of CO2 every kilometre which, thanks to the government's 4% uplift on most diesel engines, means a BIK rate for company car drivers of the maximum 37%.
Emissions only go up from there, to 192g/km for the most polluting diesel, and from 206 to 216g/km for the petrol range. A lone mild-hybrid model reduces that to 191g/km, but that’s not enough to escape that high level of taxation.
There’s no option of a manual gearbox, so you can’t look to reduce emissions that way, and there’s no plug-in hybrid or electric model to help out. At around 1.8 tonnes, the E-Class Coupe is a bit of a heavyweight and both economy and emissions reflect that.
There’s a real mix of old-money luxury and dot com millionaire about the interior of the E-Class Coupe. Glorious grey ash wood covers most surfaces that aren’t already covered in leather, with some carefully considered aluminium highlights dotted around. That’s then balanced by an enormous bank of digital screens that runs in one black slab from the instrument binnacle to the edge of the passenger side of the car.
It’s not one continuous scream though, despite looking a little like it will be. Instead, there’s a 12.3-inch infotainment screen in the centre of the car, with 3D navigation, DAB radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and even WiFi hotspots for connecting up to three mobile devices. On Premium Plus specification cars, there’s also a wonderful 590-watt Burmester audio system with 13 speakers.
Less convincing is the digital instrument panel for the driver. This doesn’t get close to replicating traditional dials, being less clear and looking a little like the dials on Gran Turismo or Forza. Not the latest versions of the games, though.
The vast horizontal bank of black glass in front of the driver suggests the Coupe will be loaded with high tech gadgets but, in reality, there's little to talk about. Yes, having a 12.3-inch infotainment screen looks amazing, but it doesn’t do anything any other system can’t do.
There are impressive headlights that react quickly to changing conditions. Leave the car to sort it all out and main beams will go on when the road is clear, and then stay on as countless LEDs turn on and off to avoid dazzling any oncoming vehicle. It’s quite distracting to watch at first, but makes night time driving much easier.
Automatic wipers aren’t new tech to talk about, but the system is tied to the brakes on the E-Class Coupe. When it’s raining, the car will ever so gently apply the brakes from time to time - not so much that you'd even notice, of course, but enough to create a little heat and keep the brakes dry. When you do need them in a hurry, they’ll be ready and working at optimal conditions.
If you’re expecting the dramatically swept lines of the E-Class Coupe to result in a car that's spacious, practical and accommodating, then prepare for disappointment.
Yes, two people in the front will be very well looked after. There’s more than enough room to get comfortable, and the electrically adjustable seats with four-way lumbar adjustment will help you get there.
Those in the back fare less well. The first issue is getting in there, which is near impossible unless you’re a child athlete. However, once you’ve unravelled yourself and folded your limbs back to where they should be, there’s a decent amount of space there. Headroom might be a little tighter than you might want, but it’s ok and, once you’ve got comfortable, it’s a decent place to sit.
The boot is surprisingly accommodating, too. With 425 litres to play with, there’s more space in there than you’ll find in a Volvo S60, and certainly more than enough for luggage for a long weekend away. The rear seats also split and fold, which is unusual for a coupe, leaving room to squeeze more cargo in, albeit through an awkwardly shaped opening.
Euro NCAP hasn’t tested the E-Class Coupe, but the saloon version scored the full five stars when tested back in 2016, and there’s no reason to think that rating wouldn’t apply to the Coupe.
To ensure that strong score, Mercedes has loaded the E-Class with safety equipment, including automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, driver fatigue monitoring and traffic sign recognition. There are also countless airbags situated in the cabin, including a driver knee airbag.
However, some other assistance systems will set you back more money, even on the E53 AMG models. Active blind-spot monitoring that moves the car to avoid a side impact, cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, automatic speed limiting and adaptive cruise control are all listed on the options page.
Mercedes-Benz has kept things relatively simple with the E-Class Coupe, with just two trim levels to choose from. The entry-level is the AMG Line Premium spec, which already comes loaded with kit, from a 360-degree camera and LED headlamps to 19-inch AMG alloy wheels and a Nappa leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Up one grade is the bizarrely named AMG Line Night Edition Premium Plus model range that adds larger wheels, a panoramic glass sunroof and powerful Burmester audio system. The E53 cars get their own trim levels, Premium and Premium Plus, that are broadly similar.
All models get the huge infotainment screen and digital instrument panel, so there’s no pauper version that looks like a Frankfurt taxi available.
Options are few and far between. You can change the paint colour and interior trim material at your own expense, and add a driver assistance pack that includes Active blind-spot monitoring that moves the car to avoid a side impact, cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, automatic speed limiting and adaptive cruise control. And that’s it.
Posher paint starts at £685, while upgraded leather seats add four figures to the price.
The obvious rivals for the E-Class Coupe aren’t quite as obvious as you might think. The Audi A7 seats two people more comfortably, but then it’s quite a bit bigger. The smaller Audi A5 is positively cramped in comparison, leaving the E-Class Coupe to straddle the centre-ground.
The Lexus RC might be considered an option, and its high-tech interior balanced with Japanese quality and luxury makes it a compelling option, but it’s neither as good to drive nor as roomy.
Those looking to cruise to Germany and crush the Nurburgring will be delighted and disappointed in the E-Class Coupe. The first half of the equation, cruising to Germany, will be a delight, and there’ll be few cars more capable on the autobahns. Once you arrive at the old race circuit, you’ll find the weight of the car and its soft setup leaves it wanting.
But then who’s going to get an E-Class Coupe and try to set lap records? It’s a luxury saloon wrapped up in a sexier body, and it pulls that off exceptionally well. You can make it make financial sense if you choose your engine carefully and use a bit of creative maths, or you can hang the expense and get the most luxurious and appealing car this side of an S-Class.
Where to next?
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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top six leading independent car website reviews of the Mercedes E Class Coupe
**Correct as of 18/11/2020. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £3,650.29 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.