I am a jeans and T-shirt guy. But this does not mean I do not like dressing up. I have my own fantasy about making statements with the right attire. But the problem for a petrolhead like me is that no fantasy is ever complete without the right set of wheels. For instance, I’d love to get off a Triumph Bonneville sporting a vintage Dainese jacket or make an entry in a black suit from the backseat of a black (yes!) Mercedes S-Class. A black Lamborghini would so complement a $1000 Adidas black leather track suit but I never quite found something that would go with my single-breasted white jacket.
A Merc E-Class is a tad too formal and I’m not willing to place my bets on a BMW Z4 - it’s just too sporty for it. Back in the real world, when I was still hunting for options to fulfill my weird ‘white jacket’ fantasy, I stumbled upon the first pictures of the Mercedes E-Class Coupe. The green coloured car with supermodels draped over it just fit my fantasy and not to forget, my white jacket.
You don’t get to see cars like this in India everyday - I mean coupe versions of popular sedans. And when the sedan in question is one of the best executive cars in the market, it is bound to generate a lot of excitement. Though it has the same face, the coupe is as different from the sedan as James Bond is from Remington Steele. It retains the suave elegance of the sedan but gets a halo of allure around it, something that makes it irresistible. Now that’s rare and that is why I’d love to be seen in one.
The E-Class Coupe isn’t an all-new model family in the Mercedes line-up. In fact, the coupe dates back to the eighties, when the brand had both sedan and coupe versions of the E-Class. Mercedes later moved on to a new nomenclature for the coupe and thus the CLK-Class was born. The CLK was built on the C-Class platform but was closer to the E-Class in terms of styling and specification. And now Mercedes-Benz is returning to the older naming scheme. The CLK replacement will be called the E-Class Coupe. The new car is built on an extended new C-Class platform (code-named C207) but shares 60 per cent of components with the E-Class sedan, including much of the styling. The coupe has turned much more premium and upmarket in the process.
The E-Coupe’s charm is all about its styling. Which is identical to the E-Class sedan’s except for fewer doors and a sloping roofline but has a persona of its own. The long bonnet and short rear give it an alluring profile. It also overtakes the E-Class sedan as the world’s most aerodynamic series production car with a drag coefficient of 0.24 - those beautifully flowing coupe lines working wonders. The front looks a little beefed up with two fat slats on the grille and a big three-pointed star that guarantees a grand entry. The car also gets a black glass roof that adds more elegance than sportiness and so does the frameless window design with the missing B-pillar. Compared to the sedan, the rear is noticeably sportier with chrome tipped exhausts peeking from either side of the diffuser. The tail lamps, the least attractive part of the E-Class sedan, stretch even further into the rear and thus look more elegant. The flared wheel arches reminiscent of the old ‘Pontoon’ Mercs appear even more pronounced on the shorter car.
The interiors have a familiar air too. If you want to be seen in a car like this, you will have to spend a lot of time inside it and I bet you wouldn’t mind doing that at all. The design is very E-Class and but less opulent. Our car came with the AMG Sport Pack that is little more than a brushed steel strip that runs across the dash and on the door. Now this is a car that costs Rs 8 lakh more than the E350 Avantgarde. The E-Coupe is classy and I get the sporty styling intent. But I’d like a lot more leather and plusher materials to pamper my senses with, not hard black plastic on the centre console to remind me of the C-Class. And there are no paddleshifts either (which the sedan gets). The three-spoke steering wheel, further, is similar to the C-Class’ and is great to hold but doesn’t feel premium. The panoramic sunroof is the one interior feature that feels like it fits perfectly with the car’s price.
It also gets familiar equipment like a COMAND operated multimedia system, Bluetooth connectivity for mobile phones and Attention Assist system that suggests a cup of coffee when it detects your drowsiness. But I’m afraid that I will wrinkle my white jacket a bit while finding my favourite driving position - the front seats don’t get fore-aft electric adjustment (similar criticism with the C-Class) and neither does the steering wheel (bizarrely the E sedan gets all of it). That said, I do like the sporty, supportive seats that are thinner and lighter that the sedans and gets integrated headrests. The test car also had maroon leather which looks great. Though no AMG performance version is planned, the sport package gets you 17-inch AMG alloys and our test car also came with AMG floor mats for visual satiation.
If you are concerned about space at the back, don’t be because these are the most spacious backseats I’ve ever seen on a coupe and two adults would hardly complain about space (unless they are six foot plus in which case headroom could be an issue). Not that many would like getting back there as the squeezing-behind-front-seats ritual might give your linens a crease or two.
The E-Coupe shares its powerplants with the sedan and India will get the E350 variant. It sports the same 3498cc engine that produces 275PS of power at 6000rpm and 355Nm of torque between 2400rpm and 5000rpm. Floor the throttle and this V6 takes a moment to get in its stride but once it does it sears to a 0-100kmph time of 7.5 seconds. That’s almost a second quicker than the sedan. But that’s just for the record. In a car so comfortable, you’d hardly be bothered about numbers and even though it is fast, you hardly feel it inside. The engine note is a wee bit sportier than the sedan’s but the E-Coupe is not meant to be a performance machine - it is more about being a refined and comfortable car with just a hint of sportiness. This is a car that cossets you rather than put you in a manic frenzy. It just feels very relaxed and unstressed while gobbling up miles at blazing pace. Typically Mercedes, you’d think, but hit the twisties and the Coupe takes you by surprise. The engine might remind you of the laid back nature of the E-Class sedan but the handling is what sets it apart.
The Coupe gets the C-Class derived Direct Control rear suspension with selective damping which constantly varies the damping depending on the road conditions and individual driving styles. It makes it softer at low speeds and tightens things up at high speeds so the Coupe does feel very involving round twisties. It also feels smaller and nimbler than the E-Class and the quicker steering rack does make it more direct and eager to change direction.
But all of this isn’t at the expense of ride quality which is a revelation and in keeping with the E-Class heritage. It really is supple and absorbent and though it may not have the ultimate sporting credentials of other (more expensive) coupes like the 6 Series her suspension set-up is actually better suited to bumpy Indian roads and makes it a far more comfortable car to live with everyday.
In terms of style, comfort and engagement the E-Coupe strikes a great balance and though it is pricey at Rs 56.38 lakh ex-Mumbai (Rs 8 lakh more than the sedan courtesy of the coupe being a CBU), it really is the only four-seat coupe available at this price. Like that white jacket, this isn’t meant to be a practical accessory. It’s an automobile for people who would like to be seen in it and that it’ll do very nicely.