2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
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Review of: 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2dr Cpe E550 RWD
2016 Mercedes-Benz E 550 Coupe: It's about luxury, not fun
By Jil McIntosh
Apr. 5, 2016
Sedans almost always outsell their coupe siblings when a model line offers both, but there’s something about that two-door styling that makes these vehicles so visually appealing. That’s certainly the case with Mercedes-Benz’s E-Class Coupe, with its long nose, short overhang, and that no-B-pillar hardtop styling.
An all-new E-Class sedan is coming for 2017, but in the meantime, the company offers the 2016 E-Class Coupe as the V6-powered and all-wheel-drive E 400 4Matic, and as my tester, the E 550, which uses a turbocharged 4.6-litre V8 and strictly drives the rear wheels.
While the E 400 starts at $64,500, it’s an extra 10 grand to move up to the E 550. Along with my tester’s initial tag of $74,500, I also had an Intelligent Drive Package, which added blind spot monitoring, active lane departure mitigation and adaptive cruise control for $2,700, and a Premium Package of rear sunshade, active parking assist, heated and cooled front seats, proximity key and 360-degree camera for $3,500, bringing my ride to $80,700 before tax and freight.
Pros & Cons
- + Quiet, serene cabin
- + Quiet, effortless cruising
- + Smooth, strong engine
- - Rear seat access
- - blind spot monitoring not standard
- - Headroom
The coupe shares most of its front-end styling with the sedan, and there are considerable similarities at the back as well. The major difference is in the rear quarter, where a bold body line over the wheel well gives it the look that designers like to call a “powerful haunch.”
The styling allowed the designers to insert some seriously large window space, and it’s blended in so well with the car’s lines that it doesn’t look ungainly. The best part is that, unlike with many other coupes, visibility is excellent all the way around, even during shoulder checks. The roof is glass as well, with two panes in its panoramic sunroof.
Of course it’s no surprise that such swept-back looks come with some compromises. As with almost every coupe, getting into the rear seat is an effort worthy of a gymnast, even with a front passenger seat that electrically slides forward when you pull the release handle. Once you do get back there, headroom is… well, let’s hope you’re short. None of that should come as a surprise, because that’s what you get in a coupe, but if you’re new to two-doors and regularly carry more than one passenger, give it some thought.
The cabin is plush and luxuriously finished, but the next-generation’s design will be a welcome change from this now-dated version. It has that quiet-money look to it, but even many mainstream models have considerably more flair. As well, some of those lower-priced manufacturers have recently added heated steering wheels, a curious omission on my $80,000 tester. (Apparently it’s available on the E-Class Cabrio, but not on my hard-roof version.)
The seats are supportive and comfortable, made even more so with toggle switches that let you squeeze in or relax the bolsters for a custom fit, and their soft Nappa leather upholstery is a standard feature. It’s a long reach back to grab the seatbelt, and so a little motor pushes it forward each time you get in.
Small-item storage leaves a little to be desired, as there aren’t many convenient places to quickly toss your stuff unless you open the clamshell-style lid of the centre console box. What looks like it might be a handy lidded cubby ahead of it on my car turned out to house a cigarette lighter and ashtray. Meanwhile, the far-forward position of the cupholders means that if you park your java mug in there, you can’t access the climate control buttons.
The upcoming new E-Class should also update this version’s infotainment system, which can be somewhat clunky. The screen isn’t touch-operated but works via a joystick dial on the centre console. Bringing up the desired information is simple once you’ve learned the push-pull-turn sequence, but some of the processes take quite a few steps, such as spinning and pushing the dial to locate and input numbers and letters when entering a navigation address.
Some Mercedes-Benz models have a touchpad where you can trace letters with your finger, but not on this one. The system does include voice control, however, and it works fairly well.
Optional technology on my tester included its package of blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning, along with a self-parking feature. As you’re cruising along looking for a parallel-parking spot, the car’s sensors look for gaps large enough that the car will fit and then, when it’s put into reverse, the vehicle steers itself in.
That long hood conceals a pretty impressive powerplant: a twin-turbocharged 4.6-litre V8 that smacks out 402 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque, which peaks at just 1,600 rpm. It’s mated exclusively to a seven-speed automatic transmission, and with paddle shifters to take care of the manual-mode duties.
This is definitely an Autobahn engine. Short of track time, there’s nowhere you can legally take this thing out to see what it’ll do. Mercedes-Benz gives an official zero-to-100 km/h in 4.8 seconds.
But for all its impressive straight-ahead get up and go, the E-Class Coupe feels surprisingly tame. It checks all the right boxes for steering weight, input accuracy and transmission smoothness, but it’s somehow less than the sum of its parts. There’s no sport-style edginess to it, just the impression that you’re driving a large luxury sedan that only has two doors.
I have no complaints about the ride, which can be toggled between comfort mode, where it’s pliable but without the faintest whiff of wallow, and sport, which tightens everything up nicely while still keeping bumps and bruises from making their way to the occupants.
The engine has start/stop mode, which can be shut off if you prefer. Officially the V8 is listed at 13.4 L/100 km in the city and 8.9 on the highway, while in combined driving, I averaged 13.1 L/100 km.
The E-Class Coupe occupies unusual territory in that there aren’t many apple-to-apple competitors, especially at its $74,500 starting price and its 402-horse engine. Audi’s S5 Coupe is smaller, makes 333 horsepower, and starts at $57,800, while the similarly-powered A7 is $76,900 and has four doors. Move up to the 450-horse Audi S7 and you’re looking at $95,400.
Meanwhile, over at BMW, you’ll top out at $56,050 for the smaller, 300-horse 4 Series, while the 445-horsepower 6 Series Coupe comes in at $100,500. Lexus probably comes the closest to the E-Class’s size with its RC F, which makes 467 horsepower and begins at $83,150.
For all its luxury and power, I felt my E 550 was too much at $80,700. For that type of cash, I want something that’s either more fun to drive, or which can comfortably coddle four adults. Although it’s a smaller vehicle, I’d probably look at the C 63 AMG—for me, the AMG model that’s by far the best-balanced and bang-for-the-buck—which comes in at $74,800 with 469 horses, or 503 ponies for $83,700.
So how best to look at the E-Class Coupe? I peg it as a full-size luxury sedan with two of its doors lopped off. It’s wicked fast, but it isn’t sports-minded; and it’s coddle-your-butt comfortable, but only for two. Still, if you’re all about indulgence and style, this could well be your car.