2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe

2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe

Since its debut at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, the all-new 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe - which replaces the outgoing CLK-Class coupe - has been turning heads all over the web. Both longer and wider than the CLK, the new E-Class Coupe is also more expensive, pushing the car a bit further up-market, potentially leaving room for a new C-Class Coupe below it. But the flipside of that coin means that it’s not as close a competitor to the BMW 3-series Coupe as it might have been. Does that mean the new E Coupe is left in a no-man’s land? Or does it hit the mark exactly? High Gear Media’s editors took advantage of a press preview event in Las Vegas to put the car to the test, sliding behind the wheel of both the E350 and E550 Coupes.

As with all Mercedes vehicles, the alpha-numeric nomenclature signifies the powerplant under the hood in addition to the vehicle’s class. In the case of the E-Class Coupe, the E350 gets you a 268-horsepower V-6, with a base price of under $49,000. This is a better value and a peppier performance than the model it replaces, but it’s not the performer of the pair, scampering to 60 mph in about six seconds and carrying on to a 130-mph top speed.

Step up to the E550 for some serious kicks, however, as it packs a 382-horsepower V-8  that dashes to 60 mph in five seconds and delivers a gorgeous eight-pot exhaust note throughout the cabin, though it’s as civilized as any Merc when you keep your foot out of it. Both cars come with a paddle-shifted seven-speed automatic, delivering buttery-smooth shifts until you toggle the Sport mode feature.  Sport mode makes shifts happen quicker, but also reduces the comfort level by a few degrees.

Not that you’ll be choosing either of the E-Class Coupes to carve your favorite canyon road - the E Coupe lacks the sharp, precise handling of the BMW 3-Series, preferring a more laid-back, muscle-car approach to speed. One drawback to the E550 is the car’s electronically controlled shocks, which can make the car feel a bit ‘jittery’, leaving the base car our choice for pure feel.

Enough about the performance, though - the real draw of this car has to be its looks. The 2010 E-Class Coupe is more hard-edged and flamboyant than most of the competition and even its own predecessor, leaving a bold, engaging face and sleek profile that is sure to catch eyes on the street. It’s not quite perfect, of course - some details seem absolutely balanced, like the big medallion emblem at the front and the twin “lamellas” grille louvers - while aspects like the rear fender bulges do a questionable job of casting the mind back to the Benzes of the 1950s.

Characteristic to Mercedes-Benz interiors, you’ll find high-quality finishes and all the classy, modern appeal you could want in the E-Class Coupe’s cabin. Between walnut and leather, readable yet stylish instruments and an overall layout that’s easy to navigate from the get-go, the E-Class Coupe is a standard bearer for interior design.

As with any coupe, however, there are compromises. Two adults can cruise with ease in the E-Class Coupe, but trying to wedge four people into the car will mean hard times ahead - literally. Taller passengers may not fit at all, running out of headroom against the coupe’s sloping roof. Long-distance cruising for two is a breeze, thanks to a quiet cabin even at highway speed and the car’s comfortable front seats with available heating and ventilation. Taking your luggage along is a snap, too, with ample trunk space for its form factor.

All 2010 E-Class Coupe models come standard with wood and leather trim, a telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth, and an audio system with MP3 compatibility and Sirius Satellite Radio, plus a panoramic sunroof. The E550 adds the previously mentioned electronic suspension, special wheels, and matching tires. Optional upgrades include a Sport package with AMG-style wheels; Harman/Kardon premium audio system with hard drive for music storage; voice-activated navigation; and premium leather.

The 2010 E-Class Coupe hasn’t yet undergone official National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing, but like other Mercedes vehicles and the E-Class’s history in particular, the E-Class Coupe is expected to shine. To help meet the every-increasing standards of modern crash tests, Mercedes has added to its arsenal of standard features with pelvic airbags standard and optional rear-seat side airbags available.

On the preventive side of the safety equation, Distronic Plus prepares the car for impact by using the brakes to reduce impact speeds, and therefore reduce impact forces. Attention Assist warns when the driver is getting drowsy, which it can determine by keeping close tabs on the driver’s steering, brake and throttle inputs.

The car is no longer a driver’s car to match the BMW 3-Series Coupe - but that may be exactly what Mercedes intends for the 2010 E-Class Coupe.  Flashier styling, more comfortable accommodations and a more luxurious overall experience give the E-Class Coupe a different feel; it belongs to a different class - explaining the name-change and the new take on how to mate style with speed.