2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Coupe First Test: Ooooh, Look at That!
Did you look at the taillights? No, really, how closely did you check out the 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe’s lit up taillights? The superficially satisfying taillight design is said to have a crystal look, which is fitting from the same automaker that brought us the S-Class coupe’s Swarovski-crystal-filled headlights. When it comes to details that make coupe buyers feel special, the 2018 E-Class coupe knocks it out of the park with a B-pillarless smash.
Of course, our 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic coupe tester wasn’t perfect, but over the course of track testing as well as driving in traffic, on empty highways, and through winding canyon roads, the car mostly presented itself well. Because luxury coupes carry a “pretty” premium over similar sedans and are made to be seen, we’ll start with design. As with the S-Class coupe, the E-Class coupe continues a Mercedes tradition that’s been around for decades: a B-pillarless design on two-doors. The design detail actually improves visibility, but it is mostly cool because no one else in this price class does it.
If the C-Class coupe’s exterior styling is “bar-of-soap boring,” as we called it during 2017 Car of the Year testing, the E-Class coupe is one attractive, half-melted bar of soap. Decide for yourself what you think of the exterior (and Mercedes’ diamond-block grille) by opening this review’s extensive gallery of photos. The only pimple on the 2018 E400 coupe’s design—one shared with the last-generation model—is that the rear side windows aren’t a one-piece unit such as those of the S-Class coupe, so a sliver of the rear side glass stays in place even when you lower all the windows.
Step inside, and you’re greeted by air vents inspired by turbine blades. It’s a rich touch for an interior that lives up to our tester’s $86,685 as-tested MSRP. Before you start adding options, know that for now, every E-Class coupe is powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 producing 329 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. That engine is mated to a responsive nine-speed automatic that behaves well except in the car’s sport mode, where its very aggressive tuning can cause the car to lunge forward a little more than you’d like. Our car was equipped with a $1,900 air suspension that provided a smooth, if a little floaty, ride in comfort mode, but that changes drastically if you switch the car all the way to Sport+. When you’re in a sporty mood, I’d maybe stick with Sport because the suspension doesn’t feel as rough. No matter the driving mode, the 329-hp engine is well matched to a car such as the E-Class coupe, and for the 2018 model year, it is now available on the sedan, too.
On the track, the all-wheel-drive 2018 E400 coupe accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds (Mercedes expects rear-drive variants to be 0.3 second slower). Road test editor Chris Walton remarked on the car’s “surprisingly linear, nonturbo power delivery,” and said that in hard acceleration, the nine-speed auto turned in smooth and quick shifts. We’ve tested an all-wheel-drive E400 wagon reaching 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, and an all-wheel-drive E300 sedan (with a 241-hp turbo-four) hit 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. Driven quickly around a street corner or on winding roads, the E400 4Matic coupe’s steering is surprisingly reactive, and the car exhibits little body roll. Braking from 60 to 0 mph takes a respectable 112 feet, and the coupe completed our figure-eight course in 25.7 seconds at 0.72 average g.
Our tester had AMG Line visual upgrades that don’t translate to better at-the-limit performance. Testing director Kim Reynolds commented on the car’s “slow response to throttle” and said it was “hard to control the understeer.” This is the type of behavior you’ll find close to the car’s limits, and if you’re really seeking out the limits of your luxury coupe, smaller and sportier entries including the Mercedes-AMG C43 and Audi S5 might be more your style.
As we noted in our 2018 E-Class Coupe First Drive review, this Mercedes shines as a boulevard cruiser. If you take some friends out to dinner, they’ll access the back seat by pulling a lever on the edge of the front seat that folds the backrest forward, at which point the seat automatically powers forward and up a little bit. In the rear seat, there’s actually a decent amount of legroom, plus some extra space for feet under the front seats. Those rear bucket seats are comfortable enough, though there’s no central armrest, and rear headroom is limited by the way the roof slopes downward toward the car’s rear. What might really keep the rear seat from being used for more than 30 minutes at a time—especially for passengers who get claustrophobic—is the small size of those rear-side windows. You wouldn’t sacrifice the coupe’s styling for a practical concern like that, though, right? If you really want a two-door, four-seat Mercedes without that issue, wait for the E-Class Cabriolet to roll into your local dealership.
Both two-door E-Class models are pricier than the sedan, and our E400 coupe was loaded down with more than $25,000 of luxurious options. All-wheel drive is a $2,500 option that doesn’t actually come at the cost of lower fuel economy; the E400 4Matic coupe has the same 20/26 mpg city/highway rating as the rear-drive E400 coupe (in Real MPG testing, the car was good for 18.8/29.7 mpg). Standard equipment includes multimode drive settings that can adjust throttle sensitivity, the transmission, and the weight of the steering. A collision braking mitigation system, LED headlights and taillights, and the large 12.3-inch infotainment display with navigation as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are also included. An awesome ambient lighting system is wonderfully integrated into the car’s interior and offers five intensity levels and 64 colors. The all-wheel-drive E400 throws in a feature called Magic Vision Control that might be worth getting on the rear-drive model (for $350) just for its eye-roll-worthy name alone. The E400 coupe’s slim windshield wiper blades have laser-cut holes out of which the washer fluid is released, reducing the chance that fluid will spray over the windshield entirely or run off toward the A-pillars.
Other features on our $86,685 E400 4Matic coupe included a $2,500 AMG styling package that adds sportier design accents on the outside, different 18-inch wheels (19s are available), a black headliner, and a flat-bottom steering wheel that feels great. The adaptive air suspension is $1,900, and although the system can appreciably change the car’s dynamic performance from one mode to another, we’ve not yet driven a nonair-suspension E-Class coupe. Inflating our car’s as-tested price was a $5,400, 1,450-watt Burmester 3-D sound system with 23 speakers (including ceiling-mounted speakers) and a few listening modes. The system sounds great and those ceiling speakers even get some ambient lighting, but we’re guessing most will be satisfied with the available 590-watt Burmester option that has 13 speakers and attractive aluminum speaker grilles. Mercedes’ multi-camera parking aid is a well-executed version of the tech offered by many automakers, but that feature and a head-up display are bundled in the car’s most expensive package. If you actually have a limited budget, consider stopping at the second of three “Premium” packages. You’ll miss out on Mercedes-Benz’s most advanced active safety tech—though I found the adaptive cruise control left too much following distance on its closest setting—but you’ll still get the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, headlights that help you see around corners, and a few other features.
If repair costs on some of the E400 coupe’s cool options don’t scare you, there is another feature I hope a future E-Class coupe will offer—a power-door closer. Just like most luxury coupes, the E400’s doors are long, heavy, and require an awkward reach to close if you get inside and realize you forgot to hold onto the inside of the door to close it as you sit down. So you can either remember to close the door as you get inside or, perhaps on a next-gen E-Class coupe, have the car do it for you.
The E-Class coupe’s extensive options list, interior color combinations, and wood trim choices might be overwhelming to some buyers, but they’re a part of the car’s appeal. As with similar BMWs, most E-Class coupe customers will probably pick a car that most closely matches the options they want from dealer stock, but knowing you have so many ways of customizing your car is a luxury in itself.
The E400 4Matic coupe doesn’t have any direct competitors of a similar size now that the BMW 6 Series is offered in convertible and four-door forms but not as a coupe. That leaves consumers interested in an E-Class coupe to also consider the smaller Audi S5, Lexus RC 350, BMW 440i, Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400, or Cadillac ATS 3.6 coupe. The more expensive E-Class is not really designed to compete against them, but in a segment as ME-oriented as luxury coupes, start your search with designs that speak to you (and view them in person, if possible). The E400 coupe is a solid entry with few competitors, and especially if you’ve got many thousands of dollars to spend on extra-cost colors and interior options, it could be just the car for when the larger S-Class coupe is too ostentatious.
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September 11, 2017 at 04:15AM