From £28,360
Merc's new coupe gets bigger and more luxurious

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The E-class more than lives up to traditional Mercedes values

The E-Class is a refined and relaxing return to old Mercedes qualities

22 April 2009

What is it?

This is the new Mercedes E-class coupe. After just two iterations, Mercedes has killed off the CLK name, and has resurrected the E-class coupe moniker.

The E-class coupe has been conceived to occupy a larger and more lucrative section of the coupe market than the CLK. As such, it comes as no surprise to discover that it has grown. It’s almost 50mm longer and wider, but 22mm lower. It’s a more grown-up car, underpinned by a brand new chassis that borrows heavily from the E-class rather than from the C-class.

Inside there is a familiar theme, with the angular dashboard, switchgear and associated trims mirroring those of the new E-class saloon. Crucially, though, the thinly padded front seats, with integrated headrests, are unique to the coupe. They’re also mounted a touch lower, providing a more sporting driving position; the comparatively high waistline creates an enclosed feeling.

Safety kit reflects Merc’s determination to lead the class; you get seven airbags, including a knee device for the driver, and a drowsiness detector called Attention Assist. Pedestrian protection is addressed by an impact sensor which lifts the bonnet through a mechanical process, as opposed to the pyrotechnic set-up used by rivals.

The engines are a mix of old and new, but all are mated to BlueEfficiency measures such as brake energy recuperation, a water pump that only operates when required rather than being primed permanently, and low-resistance tyres.

The gearbox choices depend on the engine; we tried the mid-range 3.5-litre V6 petrol motor mated to Merc’s seven-speed 7G-tronic automatic, which gets remote paddles behind the steering wheel. Other engines get a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic.

What’s it like?

Fire up the V6, a direct-injection unit offered exclusively in the CLS350 CGI until now, and it’s wonderfully isolated from the cabin at idle. It’s also terrifically responsive and extremely smooth across a wide range of revs. Peak torque of 269lb ft doesn’t arrive until 3000rpm, which means you need to work it to unleash its full potential. Still, there’s sufficient shove to fire the 1670kg E350 CGI off the line with gusto; Mercedes-Benz claims 0-62mph in 6.5sec.

The problem is that it doesn’t possess much character, either aurally or mechanically, even if you explore the upper reaches of its range.

If the engine lacks charisma, the chassis is superbly sorted. We rate the new E-class saloon’s dynamics, and the coupe makes for an even more committed drive; unique spring and damper rates add a greater degree of body control without upsetting the maturity of its ride. All models come as standard with Agility Control, where the dampers are automatically optimised to the road conditions via a bypass valve that prevents the oil in each unit from surging.

The steering weights up well with speed to facilitate responsive and fluid progress over winding back roads. It’s backed up by excellent body control and a front end that, even on standard rubber, resists understeer well when pushed.

But it’s on the motorway where this car excels. Stability is superb and the lowest drag co-efficient of any current production car helps to take overall refinement well into the upper luxury league.

Should I buy one?

What Mercedes has achieved with the E-class coupe is to position it beyond the main perceived competition, namely the Audi A5 and BMW 3-series coupe. It’s a bigger, more mature and higher quality car than the one it replaces.

If history is any guide, then the V6 petrol E350 CGI will be sought after. But it’s not the pick of the range. That accolade rests with the four-cylinder common-rail diesel-engined E250 CDI, which offers similar levels of real-world performance and much better fuel economy to boot.

Whatever the engine, it’s the sophisticated and unruffled nature of the E-class coupe that really sets it apart. But can you fall in love with the looks?

Join the debate

Comments
14

22 April 2009

yes i can fall for the looks!

22 April 2009

Dont really care for the rear wheel-arch treatment. I like the back lights though - are they lifted from a Lexus or a Hyundai Sonata ?

nh

22 April 2009

"But can you fall in love with the looks?"

What a silly question. Again :-(

Personally, I love the looks of this new Merc. And I'm a Honda, not a Merc fan. Perhaps it's because the sharp lines and nose remind me of the MK VII and MK VIII Accord though, that I like the current C and E-class so much... ;-)

However, nobody will ever buy a car he or she does not like (at all). So what's the point of questioning the looks when you're advising on whether or not to buy one?

This was the AutoCar "Should I buy one"-advice on the dreadful Jaguar XF 3.0d:

"Absolutely. Jaguar has nothing to fear from other car makers in terms of refinement and, unless you’re being really mean, pace. Which means – when it comes to the XF as a product – the XF 3.0D S has made complete something that was already exceptional."

First of all, I think this XF is just a bigger and (far!) less handsome Ford Mondeo. It lacks edges and thus character. If anything, I find it boring and ungainly. And the new XJ promises more of that :-(

As good (or mediocre) as it may be, I should never buy an XF because of my answer to the question "can you fall in love with the looks?". No, I cannot.

For some doubtful reason though, I did not see AutoCar end the "Should I buy an XF"-queston with: "But can you fall in love with the looks?".

Secondly, it is at least remarkable that only the British carmagazines put the XF at the (absolute) top of their executive saloon rankings. I see two possible explanations for that.

Either the XF is exactly what you Britons expect an executive saloon to be. Just like a C6 comes close to what a "Citrofiel" likes best.

Or you Britons do prefer other executive saloons but are just being chauvinistic...

Much to my regret, I keep on repeating myself on this forum, writing that beauty's in the eye of the beholder and that both the AutoCar magazine and website would be far more interesting if it's journalists finally came to realise that.

22 April 2009

[quote nh]

This was the AutoCar "Should I buy one"-advice on the dreadful Jaguar XF 3.0d:

[/quote]

I don't remember seeing any reviews anywhere rating the XF as "dreadful", seems "Fantastic" is used a lot more in every review I've read, British and American.

The current E-Class is the usual dull offering and this Coupe does little to change that.

As for the E-class Coupe, it does move it away from the CLK target audience and towards the CL, so I'm wondering who it's aimed at, and yes, I think the XF and Audi A5 are a lot better looking, although the A5 as stated isn't a direct competitor. As for the XF, should Jaguar continue its plans and release an XF Coupe with the looks and nose of the C-XF concept, it will stomp all over this Merc.

nh

22 April 2009

"I don't remember seeing any reviews anywhere rating the XF as "dreadful", seems "Fantastic" is used a lot more in every review I've read, British and American."

I do remember some people questioning the XF's looks. However, "dreadful" is indeed my qualification, as I think even the S-type looked better :-(

"As for the XF, should Jaguar continue its plans and release an XF Coupe with the looks and nose of the C-XF concept, it will stomp all over this Merc."

So, to you, an XF coupé would by definition look better then the E-coupé. I truly hope for you that Jaguar will then build one and that you can afford one.

But my comment was not posted to start a (boring) discussion about looks. You like this better, another one that, and so on and so on...

Such a discussion has no value at all as nobody will nor should be convinced by the other.

What I'm aiming at is that AutoCar should withhold from the kind of questions like "but can you live with the looks"?

For people who consider buying any car, the question is totally irrelevant as they would not consider buying it, if they would not like the looks.

And more fundamentally, this kind of questions (statements) about looks originates absolutely endless, pointless, superficial and thus intellectually inferior "coloris et gustibus" discussions. It's better to leave those for the brainless.

22 April 2009

I think Merc are making great cars again.

The S is still king of big saloons, I rather like the new E, and this 'coupe' is great too. In fact think of this E as a 6-series competitor and it's got it nailed.

22 April 2009

While looks are generally considered subjective, there can always be a mass consensus of opinion, for example Adriana Lima - attractive, Thora Hird - not attractive. This Merc falls into the murky dull middle ground, the original C-XF concept was very much universally acclaimed in the former.

If Jaguar has the guts to make it, yes, I too believe it would wipe the floor with this.

As for Autocar, road testers are there to give their own opinion on a car, not just reword the press pack, (AE... ahem) so if the tester wants to say he didn't like the looks, then fine, as long as it's clear it's a personal opinion.

22 April 2009

I agree with some comments above that looks are very subjective (not only in the case of cars, but in anything ranging from a pencil to the most expensive painting) and cannot possibly be taken into consideration in the final score of the vehicle, unless it is really very very nice or really very very ugly, in which case opinions will all be similar and yes, it could be taken into consideration of the final score. At first I didn't like the E-Class much, especially the saloon, but they've now grown on me. The Coupe, especially, really looks excellent in my eyes...although you need to be very careful with the colour and alloy options...and yes, if I had the money I would undoubtedly buy this over the BMW 3-Series or Audi A5.

As for the Jaguar XF 'Coupe'...well, first I would need to see the final product, but if the nose still looks like the saloon, then I'm not sure I would even consider it...and I don't think it would 'wipe the floor' with the E-Class; the Merc has much better safety systems, a nice interior, much better technology and options and are working really hard to be number 1 in customer satisfaction again...but then again everyone has different tastes and opinions, and that's why both models would eventually sell well if Jag had to launch the Coupe variant of the XF.

 

- Follow your own star -

23 April 2009

I recently drove an XF. I came to it fresh with no preconceptions and thought it dreadful. It was ugly, deeply vulgar, poorly designed and (very) poorly finished. Inferior to the facelifted S-type in most respects. The inconvenient truth about the XF is that it was rushed to market, unfinished.

There is no doubt the a writers opinions on how a car looks are a glib waste of time. They make sense on forums though - that's what forums are for.

I know this is a little off topic but the crude patriotism that Autocar incessantly peddle when it comes to reviews is really getting at me now. I fully understand why they do it but it's just like a self-parody these days.

The thing you have to take into account about Mercedes is that the cars (with a few exceptions) are designed to age well - not to just look good right now - a feat the XF only just manages.

I understand the points I've just made are in a strange order and slightly oddly worded. Got a brutal hangover this morning - awful...

Bring back steel wheels.

24 April 2009

I personally like Jags, and i love the XF and don't doubt that it's a good car and possibly merits itself as the best exec car aroud. However, i'm sure many of us have noticed that the last year or so have seen Autocar praise all Jags ever so highly to the point where they can seem to do no wrong and are invincible.

Ok, there's no harm in having some patriotism towards Jags, which appears to lead to some of this mags verdict on their cars, but i do wonder if this is the reason why some of their verdicts don't appear totally subjective or unbiased. For exemaple, last week the XK beat the Jag because 'its more of a car more of the time'. Well of course it is, because the XF is a GT and more complete while the 911 is a sports car with more focussesd priorities. This was hardly a fair comparison which would always have led the XF coming top.

What's the bet that Autocar hails the forthcoming all-new XJ as the best car in the world, even if it did fall short of a Merc S-Class?

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