A big Mercedes coupe gives off the clear signal that you’ve made it. Pull up in the revised Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe, or its convertible sibling, and your neighbours are likely to assume you are totally loaded, or (in my area) assume you stole a car.
In reality, this elegant luxury machine starts off at $79,990 in coupe form. That’s not a small sum, but I’d guess it’s a far lower price than most people would assume.
The cheapest Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe is the newly introduced E200, which is a fair chunk cheaper than the previous most-affordable E Coupe, the E250 (pictured), which cost $95,000 (it is still in the range, but costs $96,400).
The E-Class Coupe and Convertible facelift includes the new front and rear design that was recently introduced for the sedan and wagon, as well as new engines and host of the latest tech gear.
Surprisingly, the front guards and bonnet remains unchanged, with designers giving the car a new face with a fresh bumper, headlights and grille.
The sedan and wagon have new hips but the coupe and convertible have stuck with the existing design that includes a design arc that runs above the rear wheel arch and meets the taillight. The rear light lenses have changed, but the rest of the back end remains the same.
None of the architecture has been changed from the E Coupe and Convertible that were introduced in 2009, which means it still sits on the C-Class platform.
So, the Coupe and Convertible share the 2760mm wheelbase of the C-Class coupe, but are 113mm longer.
They are 176mm shorter than an E-Class sedan.
So why would you buy an E-Class Coupe instead of a more affordable C-Class Coupe?
Well, there is the larger body, extra gear, new engines and, probably most important to its customers, E-Class styling.
The entry-level E200 model uses a new-generation 2.0-litre direct injection four-cylinder turbo petrol engine that produces 135kW of power and 300Nm of torque. It has an impressive fuel economy average of 6.0L/100km
We can’t say what it feels like in the coupe and convertible, because none were ready in time for the launch held near the rain-drenched Daylesford in central Victoria.
This engine did the job in the E-Class sedan, although it was far from exciting.
We were able to test the E250 petrol models, which use the same engine but with increased boost that enables it to produce 155kW and 350Nm. The official fuel economy figure sits at 6.0L/100km.
Mercedes expects this will be the best-selling E-Class Coupe and Convertible model.
It’s certainly no slug and is a perfect match for the car, which not a super-sharp handling champion.
The 2.0-litre is smooth and free revving. It has a subtle sporty note, but nothing to get too excited about.
It works well with the seven-speed torque convertor automatic that is employed across the range, however the transmission is calibrated for economy as a default.
This means it can select seventh gear at just 60km/h, with the engine doing a little over 1000rpm, emitting a laboring note that would never have been acceptable in the past. It’s not an issue, though, because the driver can simply select S (sport) mode and the car will select a lower gear or flick a steering wheel mounted paddle to drop a gear.
Mercedes also offers an E250 diesel coupe, which now drops down under the $100,000 mark to settle at $98,900. There is no diesel available with a convertible.
The diesel is a 2.2-litre four with 150kW and 500Nm, and has an official fuel consumption figure of just 4.7L/100km.
We weren’t able to test this model, instead spending time in the newly introduced E400.
This is a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 that replaces both the naturally aspirated E350 V6 and naturally aspirated E500 V8.
It makes a handy 245kW and 480Nm. That means it can dash from 0-100km/h in just 5.2 seconds, which is right up there with some handy performance cars.
The E400 coupe isn’t cheap, with a sticker price of $128,545 (the convertible is $142,200), which is a nudge under the old E350 prices.
They are all of $50,000 cheaper than equivalent E500 coupes and convertibles.
Mercedes acknowledges there is a small group of customers that will miss both the prestige of the E500 badge and perhaps the sound of a V8 engine.
The E400 certainly lacks nothing when it comes to performance.
It pulls surely from a low rpm all the way through to redline. You have to use it wisely in wet and slippery conditions (as we experienced on the launch) to avoid setting off the traction control.
There is a sporty note, but it isn’t loud and should be more prominent for a car that sits at the top of the range.
Sound-wise, it isn’t a patch on a naturally aspirated V8, but it costs so much less that it is hard to complain.
In terms of value, the E200 coupe and convertible deliver.
Mostly because they look big and expensive, both inside and out.
The list of standard gear on the base car includes 18-inch wheels, proper leather for the seats (no man-made Artico vinyl here), reversing camera and blind spot assistance.
Stepping up to E250 adds 19s, keyless entry and start, driving assistance features such as adaptive cruise control and an auto steering function that helps steer the vehicle if you start to wander (only in certain circumstances). Of course, if you can’t keep your car straight, you should really get off the road.
It also gets items such as LED headlights and electrically adjustable seats.
More gear, including a panoramic sunroof, Harman Kardon Logic 7 sound and a 360-degree parking camera are loaded into the E400 models.
All convertibles, except for the E200, get the innovative Airscarf that blows hot air on your neck, while the E250 and E400 drop-tops also add heated seats (which aren’t standard in the coupes).
Is it just me or should all cars over $40,000 have heated seats as standard?
To most customers, the specification levels will be of more interest than the drive experience, which is good but not great.
The first thing that struck me is the fidgeting and firmness of the suspension, even with base 18-inch wheels. The 19-inch set-up is firmer again.
My idea of a large Mercedes coupe and convertible is based on comfortable cruising, but this had more of BMW ride in which comfort takes a back seat.
It’s not going to make your back sore, but the cars will by upset by imperfect roads, react poorly to potholes and just get overly busy on the country roads we tested them on.
Running through a winding road in the coupes revealed they are reasonably agile and enjoyable, but not all that involving. The steering is accurate, but doesn’t give much feedback. Like most Mercedes models, it feels quite light.
The convertible is not far off the coupe. Of course, it is about 120kg heavier and the body is not quite as firm, but it doesn’t wobble around like convertibles of old.
All cars were relatively quiet, including the convertible, which says a lot given it has an old-school fabric roof.
I’d love to say what it was like with the roof down, but constant rain, not to mention the 6 degree temperature, ruled that out.
The coupes and the convertibles have two rear bucket seats, which are comfortable. There is a good amount of legroom, and the only issue is headroom. At 5ft11i, my noggin did touch the roof (and I don’t even have any hair). You could sit down in the seat if required, although most customers will only carry younger, smaller, folks in the back anyway.
The coupe boot space is 450 litres, while the convertible has 390 litres of room when the roof is up and 300 when it’s down.
Customers should realise these cars are not proper E-Classes as they are based on the C-Class chassis. Would they ride better on the longer and wider E-Class base? I’d say probably, but Mercedes says what lies beneath the floor doesn’t bother customers.
All up, the new E-Class coupes and convertibles bowl up what most of those customers want.
They look stylish and luxurious and drive well enough, they add the latest tech features and now have fresh engines, with a strong higher performance version available.