A wedding is always an important day, most notably for the bride and groom involved. But attendees are allowed to feel a little special too, and a weekend in the Mercedes-Benz E250 Coupe definitely ensured that.
The big day is being hosted by a dear friend and his soon-to-be wife, with celebrations to take place down in Cumberland River – about 10km shy of Wye River along Victoria’s spectacular Great Ocean Road.
The plan is to pack up and head down on Friday night, no worries. A lack of mobile phone reception and some of Melbourne’s famous inclement weather, however, combine to put both my lady and the Mercedes-Benz through their respective paces.
We head off on our 150km-odd journey from Melbourne beneath grumpy looking skies and with light fading fast, the E250 Coupe’s deep 450-litre boot full of clothes, pillows and a doona. Comfortably able to swallow our required weekend belongings, rear end space can be easily expanded by dropping the second-row seats forward.
Sitting up front, the $96,900 E250 Coupe is standard Mercedes-Benz – no bad thing.
Soft touch door trims, a smooth, black, leather-topped dash and aluminium highlights on the door handles, air vents and instrument surrounds all look sharp. The theme continues with more aluminium on the (very nice feeling) flat-bottom leather multifunction steering wheel.
The E250’s red-stitched front bucket seats are comfortable and supportive and smartly matched in the cabin by red seat belts and red-piped AMG floor mats – the latter part of a $7100 optional AMG sport package that includes sports suspension, brushed stainless steel sports pedals, steering wheel-mounted shift paddles and AMG exterior add-ons. Much to the bemusement and annoyance of the lady, our test car is also sans heated seats – another option requiring a further $950.
Front seat headroom is tight for those six foot and above – hindered further by the addition of a panoramic glass sunroof ($4500) – though, the strict two-seat rear provides reasonable comfort for those five foot 10 and below. Accessibility to the rear seats is neatly boosted by the E-Class Coupe’s (albeit sluggish) electrically sliding front-seat function – meaning you don’t have to manually heave the seat forward when putting in the parents or letting out the kids…
Dark and raining, we finally reach the Great Ocean Road. Already soaked from hours of consistent Melbourne precipitation, the notorious yet entertaining stretch of road feels far less enticing and far more treacherous.
Juggling poor conditions and only a vague notion of our target location, the satellite navigation unit – despite cleanly and clearly displaying a basic map – proves fiddly and unhelpful enough that it’s dismissed in favour of a smartphone (particularly when finding ourselves genuinely lost).
Calming nerves however – with mobile reception dropping in and out – is the Mercedes-Benz E250 Coupe’s steering. Let’s be honest, it’s excellent. Though there isn’t a lot of feedback per se, the feel, consistency, weighting and accuracy are all top notch.
The brakes too are solid and consistent, and while never sharp or bitey, pair well with a firm and progressive pedal that makes even firmer braking applications easy to modulate – a big win on slippery, twisty roads.
Syncing Bluetooth phone and audio is quick and easy – though unhelpful for calls with a phone displaying ‘SOS’ – and setting the dual-zone climate control is just as straightforward, pleasing both the lady and myself.
Tired, stressed and a little angry, we (somehow) find our way to the Cumberland River Holiday Park, locate our cabin and quickly collapse into our bed – two single mattresses splayed out sadly on the floor held together by a sole queen size fitted sheet (ah weddings).
The next day is ‘the day’ for the special couple, so, what is my role? Well, as a close personal friend of the groom, my role is to, of course, take him for a spin up and down the Great Ocean Road in the E-Class. Excited, he runs over to the car and jumps in. Oddly, the bride-to-be appears somewhat less thrilled – I still don’t understand why.
Now, the E250 Coupe offers three driving modes for its engine and seven-speed automatic transmission – ‘Eco’, ‘Manual’, and ‘Sport’. A separate button lets you select between ‘Comfort’ and ‘Sport’ for the suspension. Naturally for a quick dash with a bloke about to give his life away to just one woman, we go with sport for both.
Measuring 4703mm long and weighing 1635kg, the two-door E is far from a dedicated sports tourer, but surprisingly, it handles flowing switchbacks well and has little trouble getting up and moving out of bends.
Producing 155kW (at 5500rpm) and 350Nm (between 1200-4000rpm), the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine happily ticks along at around 1500-2000rpm without fuss or fanfare, feeling like a larger unit than it is.
Low-end torque delivery is smooth and fluid without ever really being punchy – it’s never going to throw you back into your seat – but by 3000rpm there’s a lot more pep, with reasonable surge only a gentle squeeze of the throttle away.
Groom giggles coming from the passenger seat aside, speed is deceptive in the E250. You may be packing on numbers but in the Mercedes, you’d hardly know.
This is partly due to the coupe’s on-road stability, the other factor, though, is less impressive. Engine noise. Frankly, it’s characterless and a bit of a let down. Rev it out to about 6300rpm and the muffled engine sounds more like an old naturally aspirated six-cylinder trapped in a can than a spritely turbo-four.
More positively, efficiency is still a strong suit of the German brand. Our total 475km weekend – including pre-wedding blasts – netting an average of 9.5 litres per 100km. Up on the E250 Coupe’s 6.0L/100km claim, the Benz did manage 7.1L/100km on the initial highway run down from Melbourne.
Back on the blacktop and the ride in Sport mode is noticeably firmer than in Comfort. Though road and tyre noise seems to penetrate the cabin more than you might expect at this end of the market, it’s consistent regardless of the suspension setting selected.
Sport does pick up a lot of the smaller bumps smoothed out in Comfort mode, but the trade off is a tighter, more ‘strapped down’ feeling E250 Coupe, with less lean and less roll. It also encourages you to push toward the limits of the grippy 35-profile front/30-profile rear Continental tyres wrapped around the 19-inch AMG wheels.
Softer than Sport, Comfort mode still falls short of delivering Mercedes-Benz S-Class or Rolls-Royce (or even Mk7 Volkswagen Golf) levels of suppleness. The body too can float and move around coming off bigger undulations and bumps – not helped by the facelifted E-Class Coupe still being based on the platform of the previous generation C-Class, originally introduced in 2007.
Eco mode with stop-start is ideal for slogs in heavy traffic, as, while you are aware of it stopping and restarting, the engine turns on and off with such little fuss or delay that it really is something you can use everyday without any hassle.
“You know”, says the groom, “While the car may look and feel like a bit of an old man’s daily driver and golf weekender, the thing is actually very, very capable.” And you know what? He’s right.
When really pushed, the Mercedes-Benz E250 Coupe can feel a little like it doesn’t want to be hassled – a bit doughy here and a bit rolly there – but it’s competent enough to scare a groom just hours before his wedding. And while not a particularly enthralling unit, the engine still has enough grunt to step the rear out on a tight and wet Great Ocean Road.
For style and practicality my personal preference would still be towards the identically priced E250 sedan, but the Coupe is a nice looking thing that will happily and economically eat up the miles, all while making you feel more than a little special.