Large grand touring coupés from Mercedes built throughout the 1970s and 1980s were cars so dedicated to opulent ground-covering that few cars before or since have been able to equal them for refinement and comfort.
Car making has become a much more complicated and competitive business since then, of course, and tastes have changed sufficiently that even this E-Class Coupé comes with a downsized turbocharged V6, two driven axles and 19in wheels with low-profile run-flat tyres; all of which would have troubled the makers of Mercedes’ legendary W123 and W124-generation coupés, you suspect.
But although it would be nice to be able to exempt cars like this from the influence of modern emissions regulations and the need to produce competitive modern fuel economy, we can’t.
And thankfully, at least as far as the job that Mercedes has done on the E400’s engine is concerned, this car feels modern while still honouring the tradition of big-engined classic Benzes.
The twin-turbo V6 engine is quiet, smooth, stout and rich. It idles almost noiselessly; produces greater low and mid-range torque than the atmospheric V8 this car might have had 10 years ago; and sounds sweet enough in its harder-working moments that you wouldn’t guess it was turbocharged.