With supermodel looks and solid engineering, the miniature S-Class Coupe has arrived.
Four cylinder, 2000cc, Turbo
184bhp @ 5,500rpm
221lb ft @ 1,200rpm
“It looks like a miniature S-Class Coupe” I say to myself as I approach Merc’s new E-Class Coupe for the first time. That’s no insult, either. As design teams go, Gorden Wagener’s assembled crew is on fire right now, producing some of the world’s most aesthetically pleasing automobiles while other brands are either stuck in long established ruts or floundering with concepts that take ugliness into uncharted territory. With this car alone, Mercedes-Benz has proved that legislation need not result in blandness.
There’s barely a crease on its body, its smooth surfaces flawlessly joined together with panel gaps that Nasa would be proud of. It’s longer than the previous model, by 123mm, and wider to the tune of 74mm, which happily makes for more legroom for rear passengers and endows it with better road holding characteristics. It might not be as practical as its saloon or estate brethren but the coupe more than makes up for it with its seductive silhouette shape – it turns heads even in a city full to bursting with three-pointed stars.
And that visual splendour continues when you open either of its (rather long) doors and take a seat. If you’re familiar with the cabin architecture of the current S-Class, you’ll feel right at home here and, again, it’s entirely obvious that Merc’s designers are having fun, turning even mundane items like air vents into art deco masterpieces of industrial design. A wood dashboard swoops across the front, illuminated by neon lighting that bathes the interior in luxuriant mood colours and everything you touch has a feel of absolute solidity. Anyone who thinks Mercedes’ new cars are a bit on the pricey side usually changes their mind when they get in one – it’s obvious where the money is being spent.
Less obtrusive here, the instrument binnacle is basically a black rectangular box when the car is switched off, bursting into multi-coloured digital life once the start button has been depressed. Seriously, this is a truly wonderful environment in which to do the daily grind and a world away from the drab and sombre interiors that Merc used to be known for (although I wouldn’t recommend the white steering wheel, for all manner of reasons). The seats are extremely comfortable, the rear is spacious enough for most adults and there’s plenty of gadgetry to keep passengers entertained for hours. So far, so good, but what’s it like to drive?
Quite ordinary, to begin with at least. The 2.0-litre petrol engine sounds almost like a diesel when it’s started up and, although it quietens down a bit when on the move, it never feels especially quick, nor sounds remotely special. Not that these things will matter to most buyers here, who will no doubt opt for bigger engines or even wait a while to see if an AMG version materialises. And if your driving duties don’t tend to involve track days or mountain road drives then what’s on offer here might be perfectly fine.
With not much poke from under the bonnet, the suspension isn’t worked particularly hard. It keeps the car’s structure perfectly in check, minimising body roll while soaking up most rough surfaces without complaint, even when riding on low profile rubber and big 19-inch rims. The steering is light but not overly so, giving a reassuring feel that’s never cumbersome and the nine-speed automatic transmission shifts around with immediacy and accuracy, as refined as everything else on this grown up machine.
In fact this is a car extremely difficult to level any criticism against whatsoever. Ok, so the infotainment interface is frustrating at times, especially when using the track pad that juts out of the centre console like a shiny gearshift, and the doors are just too big, opening up too wide for many of this region’s mean parking spaces. And, being a coupe, the rear vision does suffer from the substantial C-pillars and a diminutive rear window. But none of this really matters when the car, as a whole, makes you feel as good as this one does.
In conclusion, then, the E200 Coupe is a car of class and distinction for those who prefer show over go. It’s gorgeous to look at, gorgeous to sit in and it does everything asked of it except shred its rear tyres. But then, if that’s your poison, only an AMG version will pass muster. On the basis of this entry model, that would be a truly remarkable automobile.