FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE THE WORD coupe is synonymous with compromise, but in an age when car makers keep proving it’s possible to create a car that’s all things to almost all people, practicality certainly needn’t be the preserve of four- and five-doors.
Try and squeeze four people into an Audi TT, Subaru BRZ or Ford Mustang and you’ll receive complaints from the second row before you reach the end of the street, yet the latest twodoor from Mercedes-Benz is a refreshing antithesis to coupe compromise.
We’re not talking about a jacked-up SUV with a chamfered roofline. Rather, the E400 Coupe – a true two-door with looks to stop you in your tracks but practicality that won’t. At the upper echelon of elegance, the S-Class Coupe has knee-weakening aesthetics but an equally staggering price and measurements. You’ll be thinking about its $327,000 price tag every time you try to slot it into a standard-size parking space.
Then there is the C-Class Coupe which has more manageable proportions but looks like someone has ice-sculpted a smaller version of an S-Class and then removed all the character creases with a blowtorch.
Nestled in between the two, however, the new E-Class Coupe retains the pretty tail and proportions of the bigger coupe but miniaturises the overall package for a car that is as easy to live with as it is on the eye.
The front seats are snug and supportive and offer a true coupe seating position with lengthy legroom and purposefully reclined posture while access to the back seats is no drama thanks to large apertures and electrically sliding front seats. The second-row experience is also cosy but you feel involved in the journey rather than being relegated to a lesser place like chickens in a ute.
The tautly suspended E400 is obedient to small steering instructions and in the sportier settings it’s genuinely athletic with sharpened responses and further resistance to bodyroll without compromising the ride.
Ride comfort is the compelling final ingredient in the E400 package. The cosseting air suspension tune insulates occupants from almost all noise and interjections from the road and results in a silky motoring experience. Only the muted exhaust note, restricted view through the slot-like rear window and fiddly infotainment system left us feeling slightly unenthused.
If an AMG version does arrive it will doubtless bring a sharper chassis, more power, and a pumped body (and note), but the E400 has already hit a sweet spot that may prove difficult to top.
With just the one car, at least. ens ed eering e nses
For the first time, the E-Class Coupe is available with 4Matic AWD traction.
The system is standard for the E400 and while it might appeal to owners heading to the snowfields, we wonder about the relevance of rally car purchase alongside the coupe’s grand touring/ luxury positioning. Sending the 245kW/480Nm outputs through the rears would require a gentler foot but could give the E400 a more fluid, sprightly nature.
Ride; styling; rear seat space; blend of performance and economy Rear vision; infotainment controls; muted note; does it really need AWD?