Mercedes E400 Coupe covers all sporty, luxury needs

January 13, 2018 by
Filed under: Weekly test drives, Autos 

Mercedes has advanced technology filling its midsize E-Class sedans to the point that a sporty, 4-seat Coupe was the only way to turn.

By John Gilbert

   You drive someplace in your Mercedes-Benz, and no matter which model — 2-door, 4-door, convertible, or SUV — you enjoy every second you’re behind the wheel. The feeling of refinement, of corraling all that power and channeling it into a luxurious body, is something you feel every foot of your drive.

   When you park the Mercedes and climb out, the enjoyment and appreciation doesn’t end. Especially if you happen to be driving a 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Coupe. In the case of th E400 Coupe, it might be that your appreciation is heightened when you climb out and can take a few steps away and then look back at your prize.

   A week with a test E400 4Matic Coupe wasn’t really fair. The car color was called Lunar Blue Metallic, and it was such a rich, dark blue that it defied normal definition. The first time my wife, Joan, walked out to the car with me, she got close and then said, “Oh. I thought it was black.” True, in subdued light, it looked like it might be a rich, black, but if you’re a blue fanatic, as I am, it might be the richest blue on the planet.

he E400 Coupe’s deep blue can seem moody in its subtle richness, but it makes Lake Superior seem less vibrant.

 If you’re lucky, you might get to test-drive the car out of Duluth, Minnesota, and cruise up the North Shore of Lake Superior. On some days, the lake might be unruly, but on those days when it happens to be dark blue, the Mercedes-Benz E400 Coupe had its perfect outline.

   Mercedes has so many models of cars these days, that you can hardly recall those years when they produced the C-Class sedan, then the larger, midsize E-Class sedan, and then the upper-crust S-Class luxury vehicle that was not only large, but performed in a manner that other large car makers could only imagine. Now they make all sorts of SUVs off all the platforms, and they have taken over the high-performance AMG outfit to make mind-numbing fast vehicles at every level.

   If you want the ultimate in sports-luxury, you could choose the SL Class convertible, which ranges in price from $88,000 that is fine indeed, to a $222,500 twin-turbocharged V12 that is off the scale. Or the less-expensive SLC is a bargain for most of the attributes.

   But after my recent test, I’m pretty convinced the E-Class does everything I might want a luxury car to do. In the last few years, Mercedes has surprised the industry by coming out with a couple of high-performing 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engines, which have more than enough power for any legal endeavor you can imagine doing in a vehicle, but the test car was pretty flawlessly equipped.

Rich leather, wood and metal are harmonized into the E400 Coupe’s distinctive interior.

  Base price of the E400 4Matic Coupe is $61,400, and the way mine was equipped came in at $86,685. It comes with a 3.0-liter V6, with a Biturbo — two turbos, one for each bank of cylinders — and clocking in at 329 horsepower and 354 foot-pounds of ground-churning torque. With luck, you might beat the harsh force of Northern Minnesota winter on your drive. On the other hand, the E400 test car was built for such challenges: The G-tronic automatic transmission, infinitely smooth, distributes the power to all four wheels in the 4Matic scheme.

    While other engines, and some of the AMG models, can be firm enough to be accused of leaning toward harsh for everyday rough pavement, the E400 Coupe never varies from that key word — refinement. Having all-wheel drive is a tremendous asset in areas where winter driving is a necessity, but even with that 4Matic, there is never any tugging through the steering wheel or other tell-tale signals that one system might be fighting another.

The steeply sloping rear of the E400 Coupe conceals the fact that two adults can enjoy riding in the rear seat.

Standard on the car are a number of attractive features. That includes a sophisticated navigation system, keyless starting, power front bucket seats that are covered with plush leather, and also adjust electrically in every which direction. Lumbar support with a memory feature goes without saying. The whole roof is a sunroof, with power sliding and tilt and the dashboard is covered with the same top-stitched leather as the seats. Rain-sensing wipers and power folding side mirrors also are standard.

   The safety and security aspects of the E400 Coupe include all the things Mercedes has made standard for years — advanced air bags, antilock brakes, and the stability control program includes crosswind stabilization. LED headlights and taillights are something of a light show themselves. When you flip on the headlights and you turn onto a dark street, the adaptable headlights go to high beam, but they do it by changing the wide horizontal swath of light into a rising expanse that then goes out to the sides. Some cars just get brighter.

   The equipment sheet says the strip of ambient lighting that accents the interior is multicolor. I didn’t know that, because it was set on blue when the car came, and I’m a blue fanatic, so there was no need to change it.

   The multi-contoured front buckets have a massage feature, and the Burmeister “high-end” 3D surround sound system is a mere $5,400 option. That’s more than twice what the optional air-suspension system.

Instrument panel keeps driver informed of all important information.

   Active parking assist, plus lane-change assist, evasive steering assist, blind- spot assist, and emergency stop assist are all available, and were included on the test car.

   About the only criticism I could lodge about the car is something that all German manufacturers seem to be trending toward these days, and that is a convoluted, nonintuitive method of shifting into Park. Simple, it should be. Dangerous, it is.

   The shift lever is on the column, in easy reach of your right fingertips. Starting in neutral, push down and you can find drive; push up and you can locate reverse, and you can override Drive by using the steering wheel paddles to up or down shift. But when you pull up to a stop, or to park, you have to be very careful to push the tip of the lever inward to engage Park. Once you do, you can see the tiny “P” on the instrument panel, and you know you’re in Park.

    The problem is that if you pull up and stop in a parking place and you’re in a hurry, you may hit the shift lever up, and jump out, but as you’re striding away, look back to make sure your Mercedes Coupe is stationary and not rolling away. The shift lever is cleverly hidden behind one of the steering wheel spokes, and it puzzles me why engaging Park should be such a high-risk maneuver.

   The key fob is magical, and I learned of some of the features by playing around with it. Hold the button on the key fob long enough and the trunk opens to a spacious cavern that can be expanded if you fold the rear seats down. Hodl the button longer, and a sunscreeen comes down to shield light from entering the rear window, and the mirrors fold in. Hold it still longer, and the side windows lower, and still longer provokes the sunroof to open.

Intricate grille pattern sets off the sports-car-like nose of the E400 Coupe.

  With all the features and gadgets, the true pleasure of coexisting with the E400 Coupe is in the driving. Drive it hard or drive it soft, and you’ll be impressed how stable the car is in the tightest turns. Step on it, and let the Biturbo push all the available power through the engine, but only do that in small doses, and at low speeds, for your own sake, because you will be noticed, and policemen like neat cars, too.

   When you get to your destination, wipe that smile off your face and climb out, then just try to walk away from the car without turning to admire it one more time.       

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