Driven: Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Coupe, Perfection has its Price

By Author: Harvey Briggs, Date: Mar 12, 2018
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For some reason, I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to drive Mercedes-Benz products recently. Over the past few years, I’ve lapped Road America in an AMG GT and been chauffeured around in a Mercedes-Maybach S560 but that’s about it. I’d heard good things about the new E Class from my fellow journalists, so when I arrived home from a BMW TestFest in California (much will be written about that shortly) to find the E400 4Matic Coupe in my driveway, I was both intrigued and excited.

Behind the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz Coupe

The E400 Coupe is not for everyone. In fact, it’s pretty much the antithesis of today’s most popular vehicles. It only has two doors, rides just inches above the pavement, and the way mine was kitted out more than doubles the average transaction price of a vehicle these days.

There’s a mystique about Mercedes products. Outside of the full-on AMG cars, they have always felt a little more luxurious, more grown up, more sophisticated to me than those from other German marques. The E400 Coupe confirms that bias. It starts with the smooth, sleek, and yes, sexy sheetmetal. There are no extraneous design flourishes here. Just a long sculpted hood, strong shoulder line, nice arcing roofline, simple rising accent line running through the door, and a subtle lip on the rear deck lid. Even the optional 5-spoke sport wheels are elegantly understated. There’s just enough chrome to highlight the window and grill shapes without feeling garish. It’s a confident look.

Open the door and things get glammed up quite a bit. While still elegant, there’s a lot more design for design’s sake inside. It’s an interesting blend of classic elements and modern technology. The lacquered “flowing lines” wood trim that arcs from door to door is a showstopper. The big round air vents and slim metal toggle style buttons on then center stack for the HVAC would feel right in a car of any era. But just below there’s a very modern 64-color, LED accent lighting system allows you to adjust the color to match your mood or your outfit, if you’re into that king of thing. And, the twin, configurable, 12.3-inch high definition screens used for the instrument panel and dash take you right into the future.

The heated and ventilated leather seats offer all the adjustments and comfort you’d expect from a cross-country cruiser like this. Adjustable side bolsters and thigh extender helped me customize the position for my long, lanky body. And while the low ride height makes it difficult to get out of the car, the optional massaging system made it even harder. My only complaint with the system is that it only stays on for 10 minutes at a time so I had to keep reactivating it. I’ll also give props to the Warmth and Comfort package which gets the seats up to temperature more quickly and warms the door arm rest and center console. Between the relaxing massage and my toasty backside, I never wanted to leave.

Another high point of the interior is the 1490 Watt, 23-speaker Bermester 3D Audio system. In a word, it’s exceptional. At low volumes it delivers get a full spectrum of sound. I spent most of my time enjoying my music at a reasonable volume as I cruised the roadways around town. But when Crossroads came on the Sirius/XM Satellite radio one evening, I cranked up the volume way past eleven and felt Ginger Baker’s kick pedal pound directly onto my sternum, Jack Bruce’s bass rearrange my vital organs, and Clapton’s guitar solo rip right through my very soul. It could not have sounded better nor more clear had I been standing on stage with Cream at the Winterland Ballroom in 1968.

Under the hood is a silky smooth 3.0 liter V6 twin turbocharged engine that makes 329 horsepower and 354 pound feet of torque. The power gets to the wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. In my case the power was distributed to all four wheels through the optional 4Matic all-wheel drive system. We got about four inches of wet, heavy snow one evening which the Merc handled with aplomb. The only issue I had was after coming out of a tavern after dinner, I dusted the heavy snow from the windows, roof, and hood, then got it the car started it and put it in reverse only to find the car wouldn’t move. It turns out the rear sensors were snow-covered and with the collision mitigation technology, the computer wouldn’t allow the car to back up assuming I was about to hit something behind me. Once I figured it out, the solution was simple, clean off the bumper mounted-sensors.

On dry pavement, the all-wheel drive system increases grip, helping the car accelerate from 0-60 in just 5.2 seconds, which won’t challenge the Lexus LC500 for stoplight drag supremacy, but is still plenty quick. With five drive modes (eco, normal, sport, sport+, and individual) you can set the suspension, throttle response, and shift points to match the style of driving you’re doing. In eco and sport mode, the E400 is a smooth cruiser. Sport and sport+ liven things up quite a bit. Just toe the accelerator and the car jumps forward. On my favorite winding road I never came close to finding the limits thanks to its front and rear multi-link independent suspension system. The optional air suspension upgrade did a great job of minimizing body roll in the corners and prevented any diving under heavy braking.

So while you can drive the E400 4Matic coupe hard, that’s not really what it’s meant for. It’s a sophisticated cruiser that you can have a little fun with if you so choose. It’s sporting, but not a sports car. If that’s what you want, you may want to look at the AMG E 53 coupe they just announced which adds 100 horsepower and an AMG tuned suspension. If I were going to drive from New York to San Francisco with my sweetheart, however, the E400 4Matic Coupe would be on the shortlist of cars I’d choose to do it in.

2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Coupe
Two-door, four-passenger luxury performance coupe
Base price: $61,400
Price as tested: $86,685
Major options: Premium 3 Package includes Active Parking Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Heated front seats, Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology
Inductive wireless charging with NFC pairing, LED Intelligent Light System headlamps, Adaptive Highbeam Assist, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, Air Balance cabin-air purification system, Air Balance cabin fragrance system, Power rear-window sunshade, Adaptive Cruise control, Active Steering Assist, Evasive Steering Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Lane Change Assist, Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Surround View System, Head-Up Display ($9,350), Bermester 3D surround sound system ($5,400), AMG body kit ($2,500), Air body control suspension ($1,900), Designo laquer flowing wood trim ($1,300), Massaging front seats ($950), Warmth and comfort package ($800)
Engine: 3.0L aluminum biturbo V6
Transmission: 9-speed automatic with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters
Power: 329 HP @ 5,260 RPM
Torque: 354 lb.-ft. @ 1,600 RPM
Curb weight: 4,200 lbs
0-60 MPH: 5.2 seconds
Top speed: 130 MPH
EPA MPG: 20 city, 26 highway, 22 combined

While the manufacturer provided the vehicle for this story, the opinions and recommendations in this story are 100% ours.

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Harvey Briggs

Harvey Briggs is the Founder, Editor, and Publisher of Rides & Drives. He has also written for Car and Driver, Winding Road, and the luxury lifestyle blog, Pursuitist.com. His passions run from fast cars, small planes, boats and motorcycles to music, travel, and sports. When he's not on the road testing the latest cars, he been known to turn up on stage playing rock and blues guitar at clubs around his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. Follow Harvey's adventures on Instagram and Twitter @harvey_drives and find him on Facebook. Though keeping up could be a problem. As Harvey says, "If I don't slow down, time can't catch me."

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