By Jodi Lai Jun 15, 2017 Photos by Jodi Lai
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Coupe is a stunning marriage of brains and beauty. Endlessly elegant and exceedingly intelligent, this distinguished coupe is like the Helen Mirren of cars.
Engine: 3.0L twin-turbo V6
Output: 329 hp, 354 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 9-speed auto
US/CAN Fuel Economy: TBA
US Price: $59,895 (RWD)/$62,395 (AWD)/$91,495 as-tested incl. destination
CAN Price: TBA (AWD only)
Whether sashaying down a red carpet in a couture ball gown, nearly nude and draped in a Union Jack flag, or kicking villainous ass in an action movie, Helen Mirren always carries herself with an enviable confidence and unmistakable majesty. The E-Class Coupe has a similar demeanor: Whether cruising casually through the city, floating over a long highway drive, or hustling through some winding mountain roads, the E-Class Coupe carries itself with undeniable poise.
As the seventh-generation E-Class Coupe, this all-new classy two-door is built on a completely different platform than its predecessor, and, as a result, is bigger in every way. Longer, wider and taller, Mercedes is adamant that this is not a 2+2 coupe — this is a full-blown four-seat car with enough headroom and legroom to comfortably host four adults, and enough cargo capacity to fit all their stuff.
Besides having fewer doors, the coupe has distinct design cues to differentiate it from its sedan, wagon, and upcoming convertible siblings. Starting with a lower, more aggressive sport grille and longer hood accentuated by a strong power dome, the bodylines of the coupe are more streamlined with no hard creases on its side profile. Frameless windows, no B-pillar, and a gorgeously sloping roofline help gives the coupe a more muscular stance compared to the other E-Classes in the lineup, and an optional cosmetic AMG package only makes it look even wider, lower, and more athletic. With the huge standard panoramic sunroof and all the windows open, the E400 Coupe gives off targa vibes.
Confident Driving Dynamics
The E-Class Coupe is only available with one engine configuration right now, a 3.0-liter biturbo V6 that gives the E400 329 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, sending it to either the rear axle or all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission (4Matic is standard in Canada). Although Mercedes executives said an AMG 63 version isn’t likely, a more powerful AMG 43 variant is definitely on its way.
The E400’s power figures don’t look all that impressive on paper, considering four-cylinder sport compacts are easily surpassing those numbers, but in practice, the coupe hustles with respectable authority and never feels underpowered. The nine-speed transmission is smooth and responsive, displaying no weirdness or glitchy behavior. The steering, although not terribly communicative, has a good weight to it and is dialed in and responsive. Even the stop/start system was smooth enough that I didn’t need to turn it off, which I almost always do in other cars because it’s too jarring.
ALSO SEE: 2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe Review
Two different suspension setups are available, a more traditional steel suspension with selective damping or an air suspension. As expected, the air suspension is much more advanced and helps the car feel more luxurious, allowing the coupe to glide over rough roads quietly and without spilling your tea, while also providing confidence-inspiring stability at higher speeds. The steel suspension is a whisper noisier, but it doesn’t really have any downsides.
All in, driving the E400 Coupe doesn’t instill a desire to hoon like Ken Block; it’s far too elegant to be treated so unfairly. As such, the car doesn’t feel sporty, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring or sloppy. Driven quickly through a sweeping corner, the coupe reacts predictably and remains composed, not pushing you to explore your limits or set new personal track benchmarks, instead making you feel confident regardless of the situation. With its surprisingly decent sightlines, army of sensors, and fantastic top-down 360-degree and reverse camera, the big coupe is even easy to park and maneuver in tight places. It’s all about confidence.
A lot of that confidence comes from how much technology is on board and how seamlessly it operates. The E-Class’s technology is the biggest draw over its competitors. The best tech feature is the improved Distronic adaptive cruise control system, which is one of the most advanced on the market. Not only does it work in stop-and-go traffic and on the highway, but it’s also remarkably easy to use and feels incredibly natural when activated: acceleration is smooth and braking is progressive and not at all jarring. The car feels so close to being able to drive itself, in fact, it probably could drive itself were the legislation and infrastructure ready. How beautifully and naturally the technology is integrated is a huge success for Mercedes and it’s clear it is leading the charge when it comes to autonomous driving.
With the Distronic system fully engaged, it automatically steers you through gentle curves in the highway, is able to change lanes for you and keep an eye on your blind spots, follow the car in front of you at a safe distance, keep you in your lane, and even slow down automatically if it detects that the speed limit has been lowered, all without needing clear lane markings. It’s no excuse for not paying attention, but it does take a lot of the stress out of a commute.
When engaged as a safety assistant instead of cruise control, the same systems will alert you if you’re drifting out of your lane, correct you if you do stray too far, and alert you if you’re at risk of rear-ending someone and help mitigate a collision via automatic emergency braking. If you’ve overstepped your skills as a driver and mistakenly induce oversteer, for example, the car will prompt you on what corrective steering inputs you need to make to get safely back on course. Most interestingly, if the car detects you have somehow been incapacitated while behind the wheel, it will safely bring the car to a stop and activate your hazard lights.
Impeccable Attention to Detail
The E-Class Coupe pays impeccable attention to detail. While the superfluous features in many luxury cars can simply be attributed to German over-engineering, this is a rare case in which the features are actually thoughtful. OK, perhaps the overly complicated wiper blades with built-in washer nozzles and 64 different colors for ambient lighting are a bit over-the-top (although the wipers are heated, which is invaluable in the winter), but most other features are actually useful.
When a driver activates the heated seats, for example, center console armrest and the armrest on the door are also heated, acting like a warm hug from the car on a chilly day. As someone who is always cold, this optional detail could not be more appreciated.
The key fob is also designed to be scratch resistant so it always looks new, however, the lack of a key ring is an odd choice, but I’m sure there’s a good reason behind it. To make it easier for someone to get in the back seats, pulling a lever on the backrest flips it forward and slides the seat up simultaneously to give the passenger more room. When the passenger is comfortably seated, the seat then returns to its original position in one motion so the driver and front seat passenger don’t have to readjust.
The rest of the interior is swanky as ever and really helps justify what Mercedes is asking for your hard-earned dollars. Besides being visually interesting, everything is also functional. Every touchpoint feels substantial and every detail feels well executed. I’m still not in love with the infotainment system, but I’m sure with daily use, a driver will get used to it.
One of the must-have interior options is the fully digital gauge display, which joins together with the standard 12.3-inch infotainment screen to create a super wide display that spans most of the dashboard to show all the relevant information in a clear and attractive way. The two screens can then be operated with two touchpads on the steering wheel that make it easy to configure them without taking your eyes off the road. The head-up display is also fantastic, and the car is more connected than ever with an internet connection allowing for real-time traffic updates and car-to-X communication.
The Verdict: 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Coupe Review
Similarly to how Dame Helen Mirren has won multiple awards for her on-screen performances and general excellence, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Coupe is also worthy of many accolades. Although there is an obvious elegance to how the big body coupe carries itself, it will be the state-of-the-art technology that will win over discerning luxury buyers. The confidence-inspiring technology in this car is the star attraction and it’s simply fantastic to use. The tech really helps pave the way for making cars safer, but also gives a lot of insight into how truly autonomous cars will one day become a reality.
The best/must-have option package is more than $9,300
Some might want something sportier
Infotainment learning curve