Mercedes-Benz E400 Coupe
makes so many different cars that I pity the buyer who has decided
on the brand but not on the model.
The German car
company currently offers 27 different vehicles through its U.S.
dealerships. Thatís not counting the different trim lines, the
high-performance AMG and Maybach variations, the different
drivetrain options for each model or the plug-in hybrids.
From the CLA
Coupe and the GLA sport utility vehicle, in the $32,000 range, to
the S-Class Coupe and the G-Class SUV, in the $123,000 neighborhood,
Benz seems to have something for everyone.
countrymen at BMW, who also offer a staggering array of vehicle
choices, Mercedes seems to be saying thereís no way the car you
want isnít in its lineup ó no matter what that car is.
$59,895 for the standard model, and $62,395 for the all-wheel-drive
4Matic version, the E400 Coupe sits in the high middle of the
Mercedes menagerie in terms of comfort, performance and price.
body-hugging bucket seats up front and two sumptuous passenger seats
in the rear, matched with generous trunk space, itís a compelling
combination of sports car and grand tourer.
enjoyed zipping it around town, on roads both straight and winding.
Part of the
pleasure is under the hood. The E400 comes standard with a 3-liter
V-6 engine thatís turbocharged and mated to a nine-speed
puts out 329 horsepower and a whopping 354 pound-feet of torque and,
in the case of the 4Matic model I was driving, puts that power to
all four wheels.
managed by drive modes that start with the anemic but adequate Eco
and climb through Comfort, Sport, Sport-plus and Individual.
impressive range. Eco is a gas-sipper that makes fuel economy of 30
miles per gallon possible on long drives. Comfort allows for capable
cruising and a gentle get-around-town pace. Both Sport settings get
more interesting, sharpening the suspension and unleashing all the
horsepower. In Sport-plus, automatic rev-matching downshifts keep
the car right in the middle of the power band.
wheel-mounted paddle shifters, too, increase the sense of driver
engagement, and make those Sport settings feel even sportier.)
mode allows the driver to customize engine and suspension specs,
with a memory feature to hold them ready for the next dramatic
zero-to-60 pace of 5.2 seconds, this car is no dragster. But itís
no drag, either. The twin-turbo engine puts a lot of power to the
wheels. If the car is wearing optional high-performance tires, as
mine was, the E400 holds a lot of speed through the turns and snaps
quickly out of them.
may be more aware of the pleasant environment that surrounds the
sporty driving. The Macchiato Beige/Espresso Brown nappa leather
upholstery is plush. The Black Piano Lacquer wood trim is elegant.
The sound-deadening materials that keep out tire and wind noise
enable the Burmester 3-D surround sound system ó a $5,400 upgrade
ó to do its sonic best.
lot of technology wrapped inside the E400, too.
infotainment touch screen is luminous and easy to read, though I
personally was confused by Mercedesí multiple methods for
manipulating it. Buttons on the steering wheel, tiny touch pads on
the steering wheel, a touch pad on the center console, an oversized
dial next to that touch pad and old-fashioned switches all join the
touch-sensitive areas on the screen. And you can also use
traditional switches on the dashboard.
But the system
does allow for some space-age customization. Entirely pointless but
endlessly amusing is the infinitely tunable ambient lighting system,
which enables the operator to choose different colors, tones and
brightness levels for multiple areas of the cabin.
The car comes
standard with safety features such as a brake assist system,
electronic stability control and crosswind stabilization.
The model I
drove had been equipped with the Premium 3 package, which included a
suite of more sophisticated safety systems. This $9,350 optional
package adds electronic assists for lane changing, lane keeping,
blind spotting and one of the best adaptive cruise control systems Iíve
on a blistering hot day, with the seat ventilators on, and the
massage function engaged, I had the curious sensation that I wasnít
driving at all ó just enjoying the scenery and the pleasure of
being moved by a fine automobile, while my traveling companion
played with the ambient lighting.
The car is
rife with smart additions. The front seats glide forward
electronically to allow easy access to the back seats. Though the
rear passenger area has no device plug-ins, no climate control
settings and no buttons to roll down its own windows, the driverís
area is equipped with three plug-in spots. The rear camera offers a
360-degree overhead view. The windshield offers a head-up display.
And, oh yes, the car parallel parks itself, and has its own
adjustable "cabin fragrance system."
none of this information will help the mixed-up Mercedes buyer make
up his or her mind. Almost everything I just said about the E400
could be said about almost every car in the Mercedes model line.
But if you
want a two-door, hard-top performance coupe, with almost-S-Class
specifications, but you canít pay the big AMG or Maybach money ó
and it has to be a Mercedes ó this might be your car.
Benz E400 4Matic Coupe
High-performing mid-range Mercedes
Sports-car speedy, but GT comfortable
Twin-turbo balky; too few rear-seat amenities
Two-door, four-passenger coupe
3-liter, V-6 twin-turbo gasoline engine
All-wheel-drive nine-speed automatic
economy rating: 20 miles per gallon city / 26 highway / 22 combined