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Road test: Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe

Last updated on: March 9, 2011 09:55 IST

Road test: Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe

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The Mercedes-Benz E-Coupe made its official arrival on the Indian shores on April 8, 2010. A few years ago, who would have thought that India would get a variety of coupes in 2010 - for the very simple fact that it's an extremely niche market?

First came the Audi TT and the Mercedes CLK Coupe, then BMW launched its range. This year we have already witnessed the launch of two coupe's, and the new Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe.

The Indian auto segment is now not about just small cars. The small cars definitely hold the major share of the market, but industry has now diversified and manufacturers are exploring all the possible segments in India.

Will Mercedes Benz India be successful with its E-Coupe? The Chakan based manufacturer believes the E-Coupe has set new standards in its segment with its design and technology.

Does the E-Coupe have the potential to conquer the coupe market? Read further to find out how the E350 Coupe fared is our road test.

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Image: Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe.

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Road test: Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe

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Design

The Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe hasn't kept any secret of its relation with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class saloon.

The twin rhomboid head lamps and the contour of the rear wing are the design characteristics picked up straight from the E-Class sedan's design.

The E-Coupe sports the general Mercedes-Benz coupe characteristics which includes a long bonnet and the missing B-pillar.

The E-Coupe's design might be picked up from the E-Class saloon, but the designers from Stuttgart have gone a step further in making the Coupe look muscular with the arrow-shaped front having a sporty radiator grille proudly wearing the large central three-point star.

The head lamp design might be the E-Class saloon design but on the E-Coupe they are longer and more inclined adding to the charisma of the coupe.

Looking at the side profile, the first thing that comes your mind is the long bonnet, the missing B-pillar, the attractive optional six-spoke AMG alloys (which our test car had), the chrome beltline and sharp crease-line, the sculptured rear wheel arches which indicate the power which is delivered to the rear wheels; all these make the E-Coupe look a very contemporary design.

The shallow greenhouse, the low shoulder-line and the black panoramic roof adds to the boldness of the E-Coupe. The rear end of this coupe has a similar charm like the front end; the LED rear tail-lamps extending to the side walls, the very coupe-like steep C-pillar and the twin oval exhausts.

Talking about the safety features, the E-Coupe has an active bonnet where the bonnet rises by 50mm within milliseconds of a front impact increasing pedestrian safety.

This service could be reset by the driver, without actually having to visit the service center to once again lower the bonnet, if no serious damage is done to the front end of the car.

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Road test: Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe

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Interiors

Enter the E-Coupe's cabin and you will feel at home if you have owned a Mercedes-Benz before. The E-Coupe carries the similar family styling with good quality plastic and great fit and finish on the car.

The three-spoke steering wheel has 12 buttons on it which control audio and other functions like Bluetooth, trip etc (it is actually the AMG sports steering wheel covered).

The instrument cluster is made up of five chrome surround dials and a central screen that displays audio, trip, fuel consumption, the engaged gear, transmission mode, ambient temperature etc.

The five dials consist of speedometer, tachometer, fuel and temperature gauge and an analog clock.

The centre console consists of a 7-inch colour display screen above the integrated 6-DVD changer audio system and climate control unit.

The screen displays the audio system details and is controlled by the COMAND knob (Mercedes-Benz calls it the "controller") placed behind the gear lever.

The E350 Coupe sports Harman Kardon Logic 7 surround-sound system which consists of 12-speakers including a sub-woofer.

The coupe even has a panoramic sliding sunroof, to experience of driving a coupe and we hope to see the E-Class Cabriolet very soon.

With the telescopic steering and electrically adjustable leather seats comfort was never an issue for the front row. The front seats have four-way adjustable lumbar support and with a thin A-pillar and large windshield area, visibility was never a problem in the E-Coupe.

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Road test: Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe

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The E-Class sedan had a very small left-hand side mirror which had a large blindspot area, that issue has been solved in the E-Coupe as it has a larger mirror when compared to its sedan sibling.

The boot of the E-Coupe has a total storage volume of 540 litres (which is fairly large), a large illuminated glovebox which can be cooled as well and a huge centre armrest in the front seats.

To our dismay, the E-Coupe doesn't have fully electrically adjustable seats and steering wheel, which cars in this price range should possess.

The E-Coupe has automatic seat belt feeder which makes it convenient for the driver and the co-driver to use their seat belts.

On closing the door, the seatbelt automatically extends ahead (as shown in our video) and moves back once the door is opened. There is also a button on the centre console which helps to operate this function, if one wishes to.

The E-Coupe has airbags at the front, on A and C pillars and even sidebags which come integrated into the seats. To avoid whiplash in case of a rear impact, the front seats have NECK-PRO head-restraints.

The other passive safety features include the partial opening of the windows for ventilation of the interiors, automatic unlocking of the doors, engine switch off and fuel supply to the engine is cut.

For comfort, the E-Coupe comes with PARKTRONIC (assistance for parking), speed limiter and reversing camera.

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Road test: Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe

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Engine

The Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe gets the same 3.5-litre motor which was earlier seen on the Mercedes-Benz E350 sedan.

This is a 24-valve 3498cc longitudinally mounted direct injection engine powers the rear wheels of the car through a seven-speed automatic transmission (which Mercedes-Benz calls it as the 7G-TRONIC gear box).

This massive engine puts out a whopping 272bhp@6000rpm and produces plenty of grunt - 350Nm of torque between 2400rpm to 5000rpm!

The international markets, especially Europe, where the Euro-V norms are applicable, Mercedes-Benz manufactures stratified direct injection engines and most of those engines run on 95 RON fuel for enhanced performance and fuel economy, whereas in India, we can use the regular fuel.

The engine has very low NVH levels, and at idle you won't feel any engine vibration neither does any kind of engine noise intrude into the passenger cabin.

The engine is highly refined, as we had mentioned in our E350 road test.

Plant your foot down on the accelerator pedal and the car surges forwards seamlessly. This V6 really does have plenty of power and all you need to do when you wish to overtake, is simply put your foot down and you will pass by slower traffic at the bat of an eyelid.

In our acceleration test, the E-Coupe blazed to the 100kph mark in exactly 8.0 seconds and completed the quarter mile in 15.8 seconds.

In our performance test run, we attained a top speed of 242kph and then ran out of road. In any case, the top speed of the E350 Coupe is electronically limited to 250kph.

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Road test: Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe

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Drivetrain

The E-Coupe sports the same 7G-TRONIC gearbox that's seen on most of the Mercedes Benz car range. The first two gears are short, whereas the third and fourth are moderate, the fifth is direct drive and the last two are tall gears, making the transmission's gear ratios well calculated for almost any kind of driving.

This gearbox has now almost become standard fitment across Mercedes-Benz's passenger vehicle range. The E350 sedan has a steering column mounted shifter but for the Coupe they have placed the shifter in a more traditional place - on the transmission tunnel.

The only thing we sorely missed was that the Coupe doesn't come with paddle shift as standard. However, you can order this as an option and we'd quite recommend it for those who would like to drive in a more spirited manner.

Modern DSG boxes have really spoilt us and there's a good reason why. Step on the gas pedal and the slight delay in the downshift in the 7G-TRONIC box really makes it feel so much slower, especially after having driven cars with dual clutch transmissions.

Even in manual mode, you can feel the lag and one does wish that the cars had a quicker shifting box. That said, the shifts in the 'C' (Comfort mode) are smooth and really seamless.

In our test, the E-Coupe clocked from 30-50kph in 2.1 seconds and it took 2.9 seconds to reach a speed of 70kph from 50kph whereas the sedan took 2.2 seconds to clock from 30-50kph and 2.7 seconds fopr 50-70kph run.

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Road test: Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe

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Fuel efficiency

The E-Coupe is a stylish, luxurious, performance cruiser, so you can't really expect any great efficiency figures; especially when there's a throaty V6 waiting to be revved hard and you have a twitching right foot.

This stylish German returned an overall fuel efficiency of 7.6kpl. However in our testing, which was mostly pedal to metal driving, the E350 Coupe returned us a worst figure of 5.63kpl.

Driving dynamics

In the international markets, the E-Coupe comes with the AGILITY CONTROL suspension package which uses an amplitude-dependent damping system.

However for India, the engineers at Mercedes-Benz have changed the suspension hardware to what Mercedes call DIRECT CONTROL.

This suspension package features a selective damping system and is apparently the same suspension package that comes on the E-Class Sedan Avantgarde models (this includes the E350 and the E350 CDI Blue Efficiency).

If you have the extra cash, you can order your E-Coupe with AGILITY CONTROL as an optional fitment. (Our test E-Coupe's had the standard DIRECT CONTROL suspension).

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Road test: Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe

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Mercedes-Benz might have changed its suspension but they haven't compromised in the way the car rides or handles.

The ride quality of the E350 Coupe is phenomenal at both low and high speeds in the comfort mode.

Shift from comfort mode to sport mode, and the car still delivers comfortable ride quality without jarring or feeling overly stiff, and this really is important since the car is a quick mile muncher, albeit far more stylish than it's saloon sibling.

The E-Coupe sold in international car markets comes with Mercedes-Benz's proprietary four wheel drive system called the 4-MATIC which is a permanent all-wheel drive in MB speak, but in India the E350 Coupe comes with only rear wheel drive.

The coupe feels more fun to drive than the E-sedan due to a shorter wheelbase (2760mm vs 2873mm) and one can drive quickly around tight corners with most of the driving errors being taken care of by the electronic stability program (ESP) adding to the driver's confidence.

Change the mode from comfort to sport, and the car makes you to push it harder as much as your skills will allow.

However the ESP is always alert and ready to cut in the moment it senses any danger. Just think of it as an 'always on' guardian angel.

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Road test: Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe

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The light hydraulically assisted steering is a boon in traffic as it makes maneuvering this near-two tonne hunk easier.

The light steering not only makes the drive fun and nimble but the speed sensitive steering gives the driver a complete feel of the road conditions with the steering weighing up nicely unlike the Mercedes-Benz E350 sedan that we drove, which we felt had a slightly more artificial feel to it.

The E-Coupe does have slightly low ground clearance and the underbelly of the car does tend to scrape on extra large speed-breakers, however carefully you crawl across them.

The brakes on the E350 Coupe are of a completely different league, and did away with our complaints about the brakes on the E350 sedan feeling a bit soggy.

The E-Couple brakes progressively, what with four large discs, and you won't feel nervous braking hard even at speeds of above 180kmph.

In our braking test, the Mercedes-Benz E-Coupe covered a mere distance of 27.1m before coming to a complete halt from a speed of 80kmph.

The standard tyre size on the E-Coupe is 235/45/R17 and our test car wore Continental ContiSportContact-3 tyres on brilliant looking AMG alloy wheels.

These are soft tyres that grip well on almost all kinds of road surfaces; however the tread pattern produces some tread noise on concrete roads.

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Overall evaluation

At the price the E-Coupe is being offered at, it does have stiff competition from the Nissan 370Z, Audi TT and the BMW Z4 and the 6Series Coupe.

Mercedes-Benz India has already launched 12 variants (models / engines) in a matter of 12 weeks in India - and this shows their commitment to the Indian marketplace.

You'd really buy the E-Coupe for its exclusivity and the fact that it is really a stylish alternative to the other cars in its price-range, albeit wearing the three-point star.

The E-Coupe is readily available at a showroom near you - however if you want a custom-built E-Coupe with even more bells and whistles than what's on offer, you'll have to wait a good two months till the car is imported into India.

The car is available with various AMG fitments which include the steering wheel, alloys, paddle shift, floor mats and sporty pedals.

Whether you go mad with the options list or not, there's no denying the fact that the E-Coupe will make a statement with a lot more style and panache than its sedan sibling ever will.

Test figures
Speedo error

Speedo Reading (kph)

Actual Speed (kph)

40

39.5

60

59.6

80

79.3

100

99.8

120

119.4

140

139.6

Max in Gear

Gear

Speed (kph@rpm)

1st

63@6500

2nd

96@6500

3rd

138@6500

4th

196@6500

5th

205@6500

6th

242@5600

Performance Test Data

Top Speed

242kph 

0-60kph

3.8secs

0-100kph

8.0secs

Quarter Mile (402m)

15.8secs@146.8kph

Braking 80-0kph

27.1m

30-50kph in 3rd

2.1secs

30-50kph in 4th

50-70kph in 5th

2.9secs

Fuel Efficiency

City

Highway

Overall

Worst

Mileage (kpl)

7.6

5.63



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