2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Base price: $48,050 – $54,650
As tested: $54,245
MPG: 17 city/26 highway
- Gorgeous new styling inside and out
- Terrific to drive
- Impressive safety features
- Small rear seat
- Expensive, with expensive options
- Extra for heated seats and rear camera
By Jim Prueter
All-new E-Class Coupe is a beauty
For 2010, Mercedes has completely redesigned its best-selling model, the E-Class, whose looks had become dated and rather frumpy looking. It also brought back a coupe companion, replacing the long-lived and outdated CLK flavor of Mercedes, though a new CLK soft-top will appear in the spring.
Other models include the E-Class sedan along with a wagon version that will appear in showrooms mid year. Although the E-Class sedan and wagon are a bit larger and built on an all-new chassis, the coupe tested here uses the smaller C-Class platform and hasa strikingly similar appearance to the brand’s larger CL-Class.
The coupe comes in two versions: the E350, powered by a 268 horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission good for a zero to 60 mph sprint of 6.2 seconds; or E550 with a 5.5-liter, 382-horsepower V-8 that covers the same distance in just five seconds flat. The engine offerings are carryovers from the CLK, nothing new here. The E550 gets bigger brakes, wheels and tires along with adaptive suspension. No AMG version is offered at this time.
The V-6 coupe starts at $48,050 while the V-8 offering is base-priced at $54,650. Both vehicles are about $2000 less than the comparable sedan models.
Our E350 tester was nothing short of gorgeous in both appearance and drive character. The grille is a near carryover from the C-Class with black-mesh intakes on the lower front fascia along with four fog lights lending a tougher, athletic look. Fender flares are protuberant, a look carried over from its larger S-Class sibling. The aesthetics of the pillar-less roofline on the coupe are interrupted and spoiled by a stationary, small rear quarter window.
Inside, the coupe’s cabin is contemporary and luxurious with standard fine-grain leather upholstery and steering wheel, hand polished burl walnut wood trim and jewel-like gauges.
Front seats are well cushioned and contoured for comfort with ample room. Bucket seats in back, under the sloping roofline, are best left for children or very occasional adult use. Even getting back there is a challenge. Pulling the front seatbacks forward advances the front seat, but it seems to take forever.
Slip behind the wheel and safety-belt presenters move forward so you don’t have to reach back to find them. Once clicked, the seats automatically slide back into place.
The vehicle is loaded with standard features and enough high tech stuff to warrant the thousand-page owner’s manual and earn you college credit if you get through it and work everything on the first try. The Harmon/Kardon LOGIC7 Surround Sound System with Dolby Digital 5.1 HD radio audio system is state of the art and part of the $3950 optional Premium Package. The COMAND system operates DVD changer, 40GB hard drive music register and iPOD/MP3 player. It also includes SIRIUS satellite radio, media interface cable, power rear window sunshade, rear-view backup camera and heated seats, which we think should be standard in this class vehicle. And, given the price, we think the backup camera, parking sensors and active xenon headlamps should be included as standard equipment, as it is on several less expensive premium cars
We also found it odd that the blind spot and lane departure warning systems are offered on the sedan but not the coupe.
Standard safety gear includes all the expected airbags (nine total with the option of two more) plus driver knee airbags. Attention Assist driver drowsiness monitor senses when you’re nodding off and displays the message, “Time for a rest?” There’s also the standard Pre-Safe, which uses the stability control system sensors to detect impending collisions. It tightens up the seat belts, closes the sunroof if it’s open, and moves the front passenger seat into a more favorable crash position.
The new E-Class Coupe hasn’t been crash tested by either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the U.S. Government, however the sedan version earned four out of five possible stars for front driver and passenger protection in front collisions, and five stars in side impacts and rollovers.
The new E-Class Coupe is one terrific vehicle to drive. It handles corners with skill, poise and confidence. It’s swift, quiet, rattle- and vibration-free with an overriding sense of luxury and composure, yet sporty.
Our Obsidian Black test car drew no shortage of positive reactions from most who came in contact with it and countless offers to do the testing for me. We applaud the folks at Mercedes-Benz for such impressive styling with the return of the coupe.