The Mercedes-Benz E 400 4MATIC Coupe is right at home on the open road, and beckons the driver to explore its performance capabilities.
It has only been four months since my last test drive of a Mercedes-Benz coupe.
If you had asked me then what I thought of the German marque’s latest coupe creation, my eyes would have welled up while I lamented that I wasn’t sure whether the company knew how to make a proper coupe anymore.
The culprit was the GLC Coupe, based on a perfectly attractive and useful crossover, but with a sloped roofline that compromises visibility, practicality and styling, and costs more to boot. Mercedes would like you to see it as a sleeker SUV, but I don’t think they pulled it off.
That must be why Mercedes-Benz rushed me an E400 4Matic; this one an honest-to-goodness, two-door coupe with a muscular yet sleek silhouette and the performance to back it up.
Other than the door count, there are traits this car has that allow it to properly claim the coupe name. Like its height, which at 1,430 mm, undercuts the GLC by 170 mm. And its low-slung proportions, which are timeless and elegant, particularly with the pillarless side windows that made me instantly think of one of my favourite Mercedes cars from childhood, the 560 SEC.
So don’t let the car companies’ marketing machines try to convince you that a four-door sedan or a crossover is actually a coupe; it isn’t. This is a coupe.
Now that we have that out of the way, I’d like to state for the record that I was quite smitten by this car, thanks in no small part to its powertrain. A three-litre biturbo V-6 provides motive force to the tune of 329 peak hp and a swell of torque measuring 354 lb-ft between 1,600 and 4,000 r.p.m.
That muscle is transmitted to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission that can be controlled using the shift paddles mounted on the flat-bottom steering wheel.
The result? This 1,845-kg coupe can hustle to 100 km/h from a standstill in a scant 5.3 seconds, all while coddling four occupants in serene luxury.
Lighting has become a significant component of vehicle design, with LEDs providing designers with near-limitless options. In the E400, evidence of this abounds.
If the substantial three-pointed star at the centre of the diamond grille didn’t give it away, the “double eyebrow” running lights ensure this can’t be anything but a Benz.
In back, the design isn’t quite as elegant; intricate treatment of their reflective surfaces give the taillights a sparkly appearance, and sequential operation of the LED light ribbons are a bit too much about the show.
The show continues inside, where LED ribbons of light surround the passenger compartment in one of 64 user-selectable colours.
From a pure aesthetics standpoint, the rectangular display screen—actually, two 12.3-inch widescreens side-by-side — interrupts the flow of the interior design, but makes up for that with spectacular resolution and user-definable views.
Turbine-style dash vents and top-quality materials further show attention to detail that entries at this price point warrant.
But it’s the subtler luxuries that make the difference here. It wasn’t obvious while I was driving the car, but every time I got into another vehicle during the week I had the E400, I kept wondering why those other cars seemed so noisy. Turns out they weren’t; the E400 is just that quiet inside.
The coupe’s big doors have no fewer than three seals to keep the sounds of the outside world out.
There are also the unique touches, like heated wipers that apply fluid along the blades rather than spraying the entire windshield and obstructing your vision. Brilliant.
On the road, the E400 lived up to its big coupe promise. Very fast and supremely comfortable, this is a car I’d love to take across the country. Massaging seats and heated armrests bring the E to the next level, although I looked at least once per day for the heated steering wheel control.
In what must be the king of all first-world problems, it turns out if you want the flat-bottom steering wheel that is part of the sport package, you give up the ability to heat it.
And that brings me to the only inconsistency I found while driving this premium coupe for the week. It’s a big, luxurious car, but it sometimes wants its driver to think it’s a sports car. The flat-bottom wheel is a bit out of place here, and when set to sport mode via the console-mounted rocker switch, the car becomes uncharacteristically rough.
I wouldn’t have minded a slightly more aggressive shift pattern than normal mode provides, but selecting sport means hair-trigger throttle response and a stubborn reluctance to shift in a way that manages to make the entire powertrain feel out of its element.
Abundant power, supreme comfort, and cutting-edge technology make this a premium Mercedes-Benz coupe in the best tradition.
Don’t let the E400’s “sporty” options and modes trick you into thinking this is a sports car, and you won’t be disappointed.
The Mercedes-Benz E 400 4MATIC Coupe offers a sumptuous interior that coddles its passengers.