On The Road

Excellent E-Coupe

courtesy of Mercedes-Benz
The Mercedes-Benz 2018 E-Class Coupe includes all of the latest safety features.

So you’ve decided to reward yourself with a Mercedes-Benz E-Class, but without children at home, you don’t really need a four-door sedan most of the time.

If that’s the case, you’re in luck. Mercedes-Benz recently introduced its 2018 E-Class Coupe, offering the sleek styling of a true two-door coupe but with the interior capacity of a mid-sized sedan.

Unlike the previous-generation E-Coupe, which was built on the smaller C-Class chassis, the new coupe and its soft-top cabriolet sibling are both built on the standard E-Class chassis. While the additional strengthening in the area forward of the rear wheels means there is only room for two in the rear seats, those two people will have excellent leg space and headroom.

In all other respects, the new coupe is all E-Class: safe, luxurious, comfortable and pleasant to drive. We tested the 4Matic, with its all-wheel drive that would always be our preference in occasionally rainy California with those typical slick pavements.

There is only one engine and transmission available for the Coupe, Mercedes-Benz’s standard 3-liter V-6 twin-turbocharged engine that produces a satisfying 329 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. That’s mated to the newest 9-speed automatic transmission, which imperceptibly adjusts to any combination of speed and grade to keep the engine always in its most efficient rpm range, one of the keys to the good fuel efficiency of 22 mpg in combined driving (20 mpg city, 26 mpg highway).

Voice control

With the introduction of the new sedan two years ago, Mercedes-Benz redesigned the E-Class interior so that the driver faces a doublewide flat-screen display. It stretches from where the gauge cluster would have been in front of the driver across to the top of the center console, where a separate display screen is found on most other cars. In airplanes, that’s called a “glass cockpit” because the driver can change the way the information is displayed to suit specific conditions and information requirements.

Control of all the vehicle’s functions is done with a control head in the center of the console that allows the driver or passenger to dial in desired changes using a touch-sensitive pommel-shaped surface, or a large push/twist knob underneath.

However, friends with other Mercedes-Benz models equipped with the same control system report that they have rapidly become accustomed to giving nearly all of their information – navigation, audio, communications and comfort requests – verbally. Maybe it’s that Alexa and Google training that has finally converted us to voice-control, the safest means of interacting with an automobile’s control systems.

Premium package

Like the other German companies, the Mercedes-Benz price sticker indicates what it would cost without any accessories or options, which is $61,400 for this car.

However, most luxury car buyers are not going to drive a stripped-down model.

For our money, we would always order a car with all available safety, comfort and convenience options. On this Mercedes-Benz, that includes the Premium 3 package for $9,350, which includes all of the safety and convenience goodies, and the Air Body Control air suspension for $1,900. Add on heating and ventilation and multi-controls (with massage feature) on the front seats, a heated steering wheel and arm rests as well as rear side airbags, and you’ve pushed the purchase price up by $14,500.

But with all that, you can be confident that every state-of-the-art safety system is included. Lane-departure assist and active cruise control provide autonomous safety and convenience that are particularly useful in commute conditions. The sensors and braking controls build a bubble around the car that makes collision with anything or anyone outside the car almost unlikely at any speed under 45 mph, and mitigates damage and injury at higher speeds.

True options on our test car included the Burmester top-of-the-line audio system for $5,400. Add in the cosmetic options – including custom metallic paint and black piano interior wood trim – AMG wheels, body styling and sport pedals, plus destination charges, and our new E-Coupe was ready to drive for $86,685.

If we were looking for mid-sized luxury in a stylish automobile in this price range, we would also look at the BMW 4 Series or Audi A5, or maybe even the Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid – but with the knowledge that this newest Mercedes-Benz is ranked at the top of the class.

The positives are that the 2018 E-Class 4Matic Coupe is exceptionally attractive, with styling that makes it look smaller than its E-Class sedan-sized wheelbase. The additional interior space means two adults will be quite comfortable in the rear seats, once they’ve made the head-first wriggle into the rear compartment.

The negatives are that coupe owners are paying for beauty, not convenience. The Coupe actually costs more than a four-door E-Class that has more luggage space and easier entry into the rear seats.

The bottom line is that the Mercedes-Benz 2018 E-Coupe is a perfect car in which two people, and occasionally a second couple, can enjoy complete driving and riding luxury in mid-sized style.

Longtime Los Altos residents Gary and Genie Anderson are co-owners of Enthusiast Publications LLC, which edits several car club magazines and contributes articles and columns to automotive magazines and online services.

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