2015 Mercedes-Benz E400 CoupePosted on April 29th, 2015
Sleek sport coupe takes no prisoners
By Nina Russin
In the world of Mercedes-Benz, there are two ways to do things: the Mercedes way and the wrong way. It might sound a bit harsh, but the automaker’s internal rulebook is the reason behind its exceptionally well-engineered cars.
The three-liter bi-turbo V-6 engine underneath the hood of the new E400 sedan is a case in point, providing the power and performance of a V-8 engine with better fuel economy. An automatic start/stop feature cuts the ignition when the car is idling, so the driver doesn’t waste gasoline in stop-and-go traffic.
The standard seven-speed automatic transmission extends gas mileage even further with large overdrive gears, while the bi-turbo setup flattens out the torque curve so drivers can harness the engine’s 354 foot-pounds of peak torque with the tip of the throttle.
The newest generation of Mercedes-Benz automobiles also raises the bar for styling, replacing bland exteriors on former models with an angular front end and aero profile. From the side, full wheel arches that emphasize the test car’s optional AMG five-spoke rims and performance tires give the coupe the personality of a panther waiting to pounce. In the automotive world, there is nothing more alluring than a predator on four wheels.
The coupe is available with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, offering owners in four-season climates some extra traction. Those wanting additional power can opt for the E550 model with a 402-horsepower V-8 engine.
Base price for the rear-wheel drive test car is $53,350 excluding the $925 destination charge. Options include a sport steering wheel with formula-style shift paddles, heated and ventilated front seats, keyless start, summer performance tires, a premium package that adds COMAND infotainment with navigation, Verizon telematics, Harman/Kardon surround-sound audio, rearview camera and power folding mirrors, adaptive headlamps, AMG wheels, sport pedals, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist and parking assist. Final MSRP is $66,300.
Test drive in southern Arizona
This week I drove the E400 around the Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley as well as the Bush Highway that runs north south through the foothills of the Superstition Mountains. In true Mercedes-Benz fashion, the coupe’s performance was flawless.
The powertrain is a stupendous feat of engineering, delivering strong, linear acceleration at any speed, whether the driver is accelerating from a stop, moving to the front of the line on a highway entrance ramp or passing a slower car on a two-lane road. If the driver gooses the throttle, he will find himself topping 80 miles-an-hour in quite a hurry.
The four-wheel independent suspension consists of a three-link setup in front and five-link in the rear with stabilizer bars on both axles to keep the chassis flat in the corners. Going over the pitchy hills on the Bush Highway the coupe was solid as a rock, offering sufficient ride comfort while rebounding gracefully at the bottom of each hill. Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes stop the car on a dime.
Steering feedback is likewise excellent at all speeds with plenty of assist on the low end for maneuverability and strong on-center response at higher speeds should the driver need to make an emergency maneuver.
Because the coupe has no center pillar, the driver has excellent visibility to both sides, making it easy to monitor traffic in adjacent lanes on the highway. The optional blind spot monitoring system projects LED signals in the side mirrors when it senses obstacles. If the driver signals to turn when there is a vehicle in his path, the LED flashes red.
At night, adaptive front lighting rotates the headlamps according to steering inputs to illuminate corners of the road. I find the system especially helpful in rural areas or on dark suburban streets where pedestrians might be waiting to cross at a poorly lit intersection.
The lane keep assist feature utilizes haptic feedback through the steering wheel to warn the driver if he is shifting out of his lane without signaling. It is one of the most intuitive systems of this type of the market. The car will automatically apply the brakes as well, to gently move the vehicle back into the center of the lane.
Engineers did an excellent job of minimizing wind, road and engine noise intrusion to the interior so occupants can converse or enjoy the premium audio system. The only exception is the belch the twin exhaust pipes emit during hard acceleration. It’s a lovely sound.
The coupe interior carries forth the exterior’s dramatic, modern styling with leather upholstery that resembles handcrafted home furniture. Keyless entry and start saves the driver from fumbling for the key fob. A button integrated into the door handle opens and unlocks the car.
Multiple adjustments for seating position and lumbar support make the seats fit every body type. The seating surfaces are very firm. By the end of my two-hour test drive through the Superstitions, I was starting to feel a bit uncomfortable.
Occupants will feel a slight pull on the seatbelts when they fasten them as the as the belt tensioners adjust.
An electronic gearshift on the steering wheel is intuitive to operate and saves valuable real estate in the center console. Audio system controls are likewise easy to figure out: a quantum leap from the systems of a decade back. By using computer-type controls designers were able to streamline the center stack and eliminate a clutter of buttons.
As with most sport coupes, the front seats have more head, hip and legroom than the back, but two adults in the back should be fine on short trips around town.
A deep trunk has plenty of room for luggage, golf bags and groceries. Cyclists who need to stash their bikes inside the vehicle would be better served with one of the brand’s SUVs or crossovers.
The E400 coupe comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, PreSafe collision assist that automatically primes the brakes if a severe impact is imminent, daytime running lamps, tire pressure monitoring with individual tire pressure display, antilock brakes and electronic stability control. The factory warranty includes 24-hour roadside assistance.
Mercedes-Benz builds the E400 coupe at its Bremen, Germany assembly plant.
Like: Mercedes-Benz’s newest sport coupe combines head-turning style with sure-footed performance and a high level of standard safety features.
Dislike: Seats are very firm and can be uncomfortable on longer drives.
Model: E400 Coupe
Base price: $53,350
As tested: $66,300
Horsepower: 329 Hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 354 lbs.-ft. @ 1600 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 20/29 mpg city/highway
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