Swift, comfortable and elegant, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 coupe is rewarding to drive and offers a long list of advanced safety and technology features — for a price.
Versus the competition:
Mid-size luxury coupes are a dwindling class, with the BMW 6 Series coupe being one of the more recent casualties. What's left are mostly smaller, performance-oriented coupes that aren't as comfortable or richly appointed as the two-door E-Class.
It’s been two years since Mercedes-Benz debuted the redesigned E-Class sedan, and since then additional variants and body styles have joined the lineup, including the coupe. The base engine for both the coupe and convertible is a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 instead of the sedan’s base turbo four-cylinder engine.
We tested an E400 coupe with Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. The base price for this car is $62,395, including a $995 destination charge. A lengthy list of optional features bumped our test car’s as-tested price to a heady $86,685. We drove it in the winter, and the standard all-season tires had been swapped for winter tires.
Exterior and Styling
The E-Class coupe features Mercedes’ new design language, and it wears that language well. The coupe’s smooth-yet-taut overall shape is a departure from the luxury-class norm, where aggressive designs with sharp lines are common. Mercedes has taken a different path with the E-Class and other models, and the resulting look is elegant, timeless and appealing.
The two-door E-Class forgoes traditional B-pillars, which gives it an uninterrupted expanse of side-window glass. Once common, this pillarless design is now a rarity. Not only does it look good, it’s also practical; without a B-pillar to block your sight lines, over-shoulder visibility is excellent. The only thing that’s a little odd about the E-Class’ design is the small, fixed rear-quarter windows, which mar an otherwise graceful look.
How It Drives
We’ve liked Mercedes-Benz’s renewed focus on the driving experience in cars like the C-Class sedan, and it’s carried over to the E-Class coupe. It won’t be mistaken for a sports car, but the E400 coupe has a light, eager feel that makes it one of the more enjoyable mid-size luxury cars to drive.
One reason for this is that the car gets the little things right — like immediate gas-pedal response, an obedient automatic transmission and good brake-pedal feel — at a time when more than a few cars, luxury or otherwise, are getting tripped up by these aspects of the driving experience that were once a given.
But it also gets the big things right. Power from the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 comes on in an effortless wave when you press the gas pedal, with plenty of lb-ft of torque in reserve for passing slower-moving highway traffic. Mercedes will eventually come out with a high-performance AMG version of the E-Class coupe with what will likely be stupefying performance, but I was completely happy slashing past traffic in the E400. The car’s powertrain has an EPA-estimated gas mileage of 20/26/22 mpg city/highway/combined is average among competitors.
Even though our test E-Class had a $1,900 Air Body Control adaptive air suspension, ride quality was far from pillowy; even in the Dynamic Select system’s Comfort mode, the ride is firm, and body motions are even more controlled in the car’s Sport and Sport Plus settings. That said, the suspension tuning doesn’t feel out of character considering the coupe’s precise steering and responsive automatic transmission. For a more relaxed driving experience, check out Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class coupe.
Mercedes-Benz has been creating some beautiful interiors lately, and the E-Class coupe’s is no exception. Blending first-rate craftsmanship, unique details and high-end technology, the cabin is nicer than anything else in the mid-size luxury class.
If you’re looking for a place to get a little me-time, this space fits the bill nicely. Our test car had $950 multicontour front seats with power-adjustable lumbar, side bolsters and seat-cushion length, as well as a selection of massage modes. Want to perfume the cabin? Feel free to do so with the optional Air Balance cabin fragrance system, maybe while listening to your favorite song on the $5,400 Burmester 3-D Surround Sound audio system. (Hey, I never said this automotive me-time would be cheap.)
If you want to share the interior with a few friends, the E-Class coupe can do that, too. As is often the case with coupes, getting in and out of the backseat isn’t a particularly graceful exercise, but the front seats motor forward to make the process easier. Once you’re settled, the rear seat is reasonably comfortable, with decent legroom and passable headroom.
Ergonomics and Electronics
Mercedes-Benz’s rotary-controller-based multimedia system, Comand, has a new on-screen interface in the E-Class that’s a big departure from previous versions. Instead of the menu bars that lined the top and bottom of the screen in earlier Mercedes models, the new design groups menus on the right side of the screen. It’s easy enough to learn, but the system isn’t as intuitive as BMW’s latest iDrive system. And unlike newer iDrive screens, the dashboard screen for the E-Class Comand isn’t a touchscreen even though it’s within reach of the driver and front passenger. The lack of a touchscreen means you have to use the Comand controller for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are optimized for touchscreens.
That said, the central 12.3-inch dashboard screen does look great, with rich colors and crisp graphics, and the map view for the standard navigation system or Apple Maps (through CarPlay) is impressive; the screen’s extra-large size is especially noticeable. A 12.3-inch configurable instrument panel screen that replaces analog gauges is optional and looks just as nice.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class also has touch-sensitive control pads on the steering wheel. The one on the left controls the instrument panel’s multifunction computer, while the one on the right controls the dashboard screen. They work better than expected, letting you quickly flip through trip computer settings or scroll through radio stations, and they even work when wearing gloves, which is a usual nemesis of these types of controls. Traditional steering-wheel buttons have been retained for certain audio and phone functions.
One interface that didn’t work well for me was the touchpad atop the Comand controller knob — specifically its handwriting recognition capability. The system had a hard time interpreting letters and numbers, so much so that I had to use the rotary knob to enter my destination.
The coupe’s trunk is deep but not that tall, measuring 10 cubic feet. A standard 40/20/40-split folding backseat lends additional utility, and the seat sections fold flat with the trunk floor. A powered trunk lid is optional.
The 2018 E-Class coupe hadn’t been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as of publication. It is, however, packed with advanced safety technology.
One of these features is Car-to-X communication, which is standard on the E-Class. The system monitors things like wheelspin, hazard-flasher use and windshield-wiper activation to intuit potential driving dangers. This info is then sent to a central system and delivered as alerts to other cars equipped with this technology to inform drivers about problems on their route. Not many cars, however, have this technology right now.
Our test car had the Premium 3 Package, and in addition to convenience functions, it adds a lot of advanced safety features. These include adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, steering assist, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring and a 360-degree camera system.
When active, these systems can handle basic driving tasks for you: The Mercedes-Benz E-Class will steer itself to follow not just gradual turns but tighter ones, too, and it stays reasonably centered in its lane. You can also use the turn-signal stalk to change lanes — the car will steer itself when there’s an opening — but this last feature seems a little unnecessary given you must keep a hand on the steering wheel or the car will sense it and deactivate the driver-assist systems.
Value in Its Class
Mercedes-Benz cars can be expensive, and with high starting and as-tested prices, the E 400 coupe is a reminder of that. But it’s also a reminder that the German luxury brand is building some great cars right now. Even though it costs nearly $87,000, in many ways this coupe feels worth it with its combination of high-tech features, a luxurious interior, overall cachet and performance. “Well-rounded” isn’t a term typically associated with luxury coupes, but it applies here.