Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - E-class - coupe range
Improved value over previous model, sweet V6 bi-turbo performance, quiet cabin – even in Cabriolet, neck-warmer, smooth seven-speed transmission, safety tech
Room for improvement
Gear-shift lever on the steering wheel, firm ride, foot-operated park-brake
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9 Aug 2013
WITH its mid-life refresh, the revised E-Class range is looking positively new against aging rivals such as the BMW 3 Series (soon to be replaced), Lexus IS and Infiniti’s two-door G37.
In fact, it’s the freshest premium coupe and convertible on the market, at least until the 4 Series lands in October.
While it is not an entirely new vehicle, the updates are significant and include two new engine choices, a tweaked seven-speed transmission and a restyled body.
The front-end design almost mirrors the face of the new E-Class sedan, but the air intake of the Coupe is flipped for a more aggressive look, while the chunky rear panels above the wheel arches of outgoing model are carried over.
A new tail-light design and dual trapezoidal exhaust outlets update the back end, and overall, the refreshed styling of the two-door E-Class is a step-up from the handsome outgoing model.
A new centre stack and console, two-part trim across the dash and a new colour display lift the updated cabin, maintaining that premium feel Benz buyers expect.
Unfortunately Mercedes-Benz Australia was unable to source a new base model E200 for our launch drive, nor was there a diesel available, but we managed to get some time in the mid-spec E250 Coupe before sliding into a range-topping E400 Cabriolet.
Somewhat confusingly, the E250 moves from being the entry-level model in the outgoing line-up to the mid-spec model for 2013, replacing the E350.
All variants receive adequate levels of standard equipment for this price bracket, which kicks off at $79,900 for the E200 Coupe and tops out at $142,545 for the E400 Cabriolet.
A reversing camera, power windows, electric folding external mirrors, wood trim and a parking assist function are standard on the E250 Coupe for $96,400 plus on-roads, while the E400 Cabriolet gains digital radio and a killer Harmon Kardon surround sound system with speakers throughout the cabin for $142,545.
The E250 Coupe we tested was fitted with stunning red leather upholstery that contrasted beautifully with the black materials of the dash and door inserts, while the white-backed dials added even more colour to the cabin.
The sports seats provided terrific levels of support and the leather itself felt luxurious, ensuring occupants are under no illusion that they are in a premium German offering.
Mercedes’ decision to relocate the gear shift lever from the centre console to the steering wheel is a curious one, and despite not being fans of the changer on the tree, it doesn’t take long to become second nature.
Another bugbear is the foot-operated park-brake that Mercedes-Benz insists on sticking with. It’s ergonomically unsound and just seems so outdated.
As with most two-doors, the rear seats would not be much fun over an extended period, but Mercedes has fitted full-size rear seats in the E-Class to improve comfort levels.
The lack of B-pillar makes for excellent visibility and the rear window in the Coupe is big enough, given the sloping rear of the car.
Under the bonnet of the E250 is the same two-litre four-cylinder engine found in the A250 Sport hatch, and matches the A-Class’s output of 155kW/350Nm.
The engine is a good match for the E-Class two-door, and a 7.1-second 0-100km/h sprint time is brisk enough for boulevard cruising.
In a straight line, the turbocharged four-cylinder engine gave its all and felt punchy, although there was mild lag, and the stiffened springs provide a slightly harder ride than the previous model.
The E250 comes standard with Mercedes’ Distronic Plus system that includes adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping technology that maintains the lane you are travelling in when the car drifts towards the white lines.
Each time we tested this technology, the vehicle steered itself back to the centre of the lane perfectly and we even received a warning on the display with a flashing red steering wheel requesting we put our hands back on the wheel.
The E400 replaces the previous E500 V8 as the new two-door E-Class flagship, and any punters concerned about the lack of V8 power in the range need not be concerned.
The 3.0-litre bi-turbo V6 in the E400 Cabriolet produces 245kW/480Nm and while it can’t match the sheer grunt of the outgoing E500’s 285kW/530Nm, it is just as quick in a straight line with 0-100km/h time of 5.3 seconds for the drop-top.
Putting your foot down hard on the accelerator produces a gorgeous V6 engine note and the E400 darts around corners with ease, maintaining its composure even when pushed.
The E400 punted up some rather steep forest roads without a hint of a struggle and overall, the performance of the range-topper made it feel like more of a sports car than the E250.
Just one transmission is available across the range, and the seven-speed unit is perfectly matched to both engines, with well-timed, sharp changes in the E250 and E400.
We dropped the roof of the E400 Cabriolet just once, quickly discovering that Victoria’s Wombat State Forest in the middle of winter might not be the best time of year to test the capabilities of a convertible.
The roof comes down in 20 seconds and can be operated up to 40km/h, and Benz has even included a neck heater in the front seats to combat chilly conditions, as well as an air deflector on the top of the windscreen and a rear draught stop.
Interesting, we noticed very little difference in cabin noise stepping from the Coupe to the Cabriolet, thanks in part to the 23.5mm-thick insulated cloth roof. Maintaining a hushed cabin in a cabrio is quite an achievement, and Mercedes has succeeded here.
Boot capacity is reasonably generous in the Coupe at 450 litres, 10 litres bigger than the 3 Series, but luggage space in the Cabriolet is, unsurprisingly, fairly limited at 300 litres.
Mercedes-Benz’s official fuel consumption figure for the E250 Coupe is 6.0 litres per 100 kilometres, and we recorded 10.4L/100km of predominantly freeway and country road driving.
We recorded identical figures in the bigger E400, more than Benz’s official combined cycle fuel economy reading of 7.7-litres.
The premium coupe/convertible market includes the Audi A5 range that kicks off from $66,900, and the 4 Series from October starting from $73,200. While the entry price for the E-Class two-door is $79,900, pricing is comparable with each equivalent variant across the three German car-maker’s two-door ranges.
The updates to the E-Class Coupe and Convertible are not game-changing, but they are enough to improve the value, performance and fuel economy across the range.
Mercedes predicts it will steal a few sales from other marques with the new E-Class two-door, and with its impressive performance, luxurious packaging, new entry price and sleek design, we can see why.
Whether the updated E-Class can maintain interest against incoming competition in the form of the BMW 4 Series remains to be seen, but we think it is a strong enough offering to hold its own.
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