It’s a modern to take on an old formula
It’s easy to look at the 2018 Mercedes E400 Coupe as, simply, an E-Class with two fewer doors, but that’s selling it short. For Mercedes, it represents a return to building the sort of car it abandoned in 1996–the mid-size luxury coupe. The previous generation E-Class coupe and the two generations of CLK that preceded it were built on modified, smaller C-Class platforms in an attempt to give them sporting credentials. This one, though, is a proper E-Class.
A real four-seater that, yeah, handles well enough given its size, but is really meant for covering distances with uncanny effortlessness. And signaling to the world that you’ve arrived, but you’re not about to make a big show of it. Detroit automakers used to call this sort of thing a personal car.
You’ll notice one of the best things about the E-Coupe before you even open the door. Even among Mercedes’ very attractive current lineup, the exterior styling on the E-Coupe stands out, by, well, not really standing out. Unlike the smaller C-Coupe and the decadent two-door S-Class, the E-Coupe features very minimal sculpting on its body panels and fairly subdued fender flares. The result is a simple, elegant-looking car that recalls the austere Mercedes coupes of old.
You can tell Mercedes chief designer Gordon Wagener and his team spent a lot of time studying the iconic designs of Paul Bracq and Bruno Sacco in working on this car. Wagner and co. have achieved an excellent result. The new E-Coupe isn’t flashy, but it looks better the more you spend time with it, and will certainly age well.
Inside, the interior is nearly identical to the E-Class sedan and wagon, with the exception of a slightly lower driving position and turbine-shaped air vents. If you look hard enough, there are some cheap materials here, but for the most part, it’s top-notch quality.
On the move, you get almost exactly what you’d expect from a Mercedes two-door this size–a comfortable high-speed cruiser. The E400 Coupe excels on wide, open highways, where it maintains speed effortlessly. It’s very apparent this car is developed by people who commute on Germany’s high-speed Autobahns.
Power comes from a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 that makes 329 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque in the E400. It’s paired to Mercedes’s now-familiar 9G-Tronic nine-speed auto, which works seamlessly. This gearbox even downshifts under braking in Sport and Sport+ modes, so there’s no real need to use the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The E-Coupe’s steering doesn’t offer a lot in terms of texture or nuance, but it’s admirably accurate and the weighting feels natural.
It comes with all of Mercedes’ latest semi-autonomous driving features. Theoretically you can let go of the wheel for brief periods of time with Steering Pilot engaged, but it works much better if you maintain a light grip.
The E-Coupe also gets Mercedes’ new dual-screen gauge cluster and infotainment system, both of which can be controlled by touch pads on the steering wheel.
The E400 Coupe gives you almost exactly what you expect, and that’s no bad thing if you’re a fan of big old-school German coupes, but you want modern safety and tech.