Elegance on wheels elegantly wafting o’er the Tuscan hills: that’s all the new E-class coupe wants to be and do for you.
One of the bigger sensations of the 2009 Geneva Motor Show this past March was the long-telegraphed intro of the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan (designation “W212”) and coupe (“C207”). Naturally, the sedan is solid and enjoyable, but the coupe needs to be sultry. And it is sultry enough.
We just drove four versions of the new handsome E-Class coupe that replaces the now off’d CLK-class coupe, and two of these engines will be coming to North America: the E350 V-6 CGI and E550 V-8. We also barreled through the sun-drenched Tuscan countryside in the E250 in-line four CDI and E350 V-6 CDI direct-injection turbo diesels. Of all the motors tried, the bigger diesel is easily the best powertrain for this car. And, yes, there are no plans for its sale in North America.
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So, we made do with the two bigger direct-injection gas engines that we all DO get and while the 292-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 will be the prime seller for this coupe in North America, the older-tech 388-horsepower 5.5-liter V-8 simply moves things along much more in a style to which we’ve become accustomed. Part of this is the slight insufficiency of power and torque from the V-6, as the sweetness doesn’t start until around 3500 rpm. The result from the direct-injected CGI is a feeling of wheezing at times when we play the throttle. The flip side with the V-8 is that we love the power and torque delivery up to 6000 rpm but we know we’re scoffing at fuel consumption in a good-ol’ boy way that just isn’t cool anymore in a mid-luxury model like the E-Class coupe.
What’s really good, no matter what, is the seven-speed 7G-tronic automatic transmission and especially so for the V-6 CGI when you include the shift paddles of the AMG package (included on the V-8 CGI). The former five-speed auto used on the four-cylinders sold in other markets—like the E250 CDI—is a little off in its tendency to jump around through the gears too readily when left in fully automatic mode. So, no worries that way for us at least.
Cosmetically, this E-Class coupe is clearly an adapted CLK-class chassis upgrade, as the wheelbase at 108.7 inches is only 1.8 inches longer than on the old CLK, while the four-door E-Class wheelbase reads 112.4 inches. The CLK’s length was 183.1 inches while the E-Class coupe hits 185.0 inches, and the new sedan stretches to 191.0 inches. The proportional likeness to the CLK versus the C- or E-class is all there as well, all dimensions basically scooching just a little outward to lend the coupe some new presence that the CLK always lacked.
One extra we would tack on to any E-Class coupe purchase is the Advanced Agility Control, which has a normal and sport mode for the chassis that gives you pretty close to two cars in one—depending on the road layout you’re driving through and your mindset at the time. Another dynamic plus no matter which model you choose is the added chassis rigidity at the base of where the B-pillar should be (if there were a conventional B-pillar). It’s a handling difference that we really felt when comparing it in our heads to our CLK experience. At speed over these Italian roads, the impressive 0.24 coefficient of drag honestly results in precious little wind noise.
Needless to say, the options list goes on and on.
One curious point that is a pure sign of the times: Mercedes is starting E-Class sedan pricing in the U.S. at $4600 below the equivalent models from the outgoing generation. Expect this price drop to happen also for the coupe when it arrives in the middle of this year. The convertible will come on-line in the middle of 2010 and there is currently no AMG 63 version of the two-door planned.
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