There’s no better way to find out all about a new model than to drive it enthusiastically over familiar, if remote, roads with a few new routes thrown in. That’s what I did recently with the new Mercedes-Benz E 400 Coupe 4MATIC around western and coastal BC.
The route took us from Richmond to Whistler, Pemberton, Lillooet, Lytton, Fraser Canyon, Harrison Hot Springs and back to Vancouver. Having driven in many parts of the world on scenic roads from South Africa to Australia, I have to say that this particular loop is one of the great drives anywhere and it’s perfect territory for a serious touring car like the E 400 Coupe.
The E-Class Coupe is a solid contender in the large coupe segment in which you’ll find such products as the new Lexus LC500 and the BMW 6-Series. There are, of course, smaller coupes in the Mercedes-Benz lineup but this one is roomier and more spacious. You could certainly get a couple of adults in the rear seats as long as they weren’t NBA stars. Two-door cars have advantages over four-door touring cars, not the least of which is body rigidity. The E 400 is easy enough to climb into the back of thanks to wide doors and a nifty system that powers the front seats forward to aid entry.
The styling is very elegant and is perhaps a little more daring than previous M-Bs in this class. It’s a very sinuous design and looks great from every angle. As with so many Mercedes vehicles these days it features the ‘sports car nose’ that has proven so popular and the old grille with stand-up three-pointed star seems to have disappeared. It’s a clean and elegant shape and no doubt it’s very efficient aerodynamically, which contributes to low wind noise and good fuel economy. As far as lighting goes, LEDs are used extensively both front and rear. The car is a little longer than its predecessor and as a consequence, has more legroom and shoulder room inside.
Power comes from a very smooth and responsive twin-turbo V-6 with just under 3-litres displacement. The transmission is a highly sophisticated 9-speed automatic that allows fast gearshifts and lower engine speeds with resulting benefits regarding noise and fuel efficiency. Buyers can choose models with Mercedes’ DYNAMIC SELECT body control, which allows the driver to choose the mode that suits them best. Even in its sportiest mode, this is a very comfortable and stable car and some of the roads we travelled on were bad enough to prove this point. My test car was equipped with 4MATIC all-wheel drive, which is very reassuring on slippery roads of any kind.
The interior is trimmed to Mercedes’ usual impeccable standards and is a joy to behold to be sure. Everything fits so well it’s a benchmark to manufacturers that haven’t achieved this level of excellence yet. The technology packed into the car is nothing short of astonishing and it must surely be one of the safest automobiles on the planet. One example is a system that gently gives the steering wheel a helping hand if it senses that you are wandering onto the shoulder a little. This is just one of many safety features of the E 400 Coupe, though all drivers should realize that maximum concentration is needed at all times with any car, especially on the winding roads we travelled to evaluate this Mercedes-Benz.
This new E-Class is certainly a pleasure to drive and our journey around some of BC’s most scenic highways inspired lots of confidence, especially in Mercedes’ undoubted skill with suspension design and safety technology. The winding roads along the Thomson River canyons were the perfect place to discover what this outstanding new Mercedes-Benz coupe is all about. An AMG version with uprated power will follow later.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Two door touring coupe
ENGINE: 3.0-litre V-6
TRANSMISSION: 9-speed automatic
PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in approx. 5.3-seconds
FUEL ECONOMY: Around 8.1-litres/100 km combined
PRICE: Around $72,000