The long-lived and much-loved Mercedes CLK is no more. In its place comes the E-Class Coupé, which gets the spectacular look of the new saloon, but puts its practicality on the back burner.
So, is this machine as good to drive as it is to look at? We hit the road to find out. In the flesh, the design turns heads. Immediately recognisable are the twin rectangular lights from the saloon – they give the Coupé real presence when it’s lurking in your rear view mirror. The profile blends the low arc of the roof and the pillarless glass area, both of which help create a classic coupé design, while a bold crease hovers above the rear wheelarch.
And that low and lithe shape isn’t only for show – with a drag co-efficient of only 0.24, the new Coupé is the world’s most aerodynamically efficient car.
Climb inside and the interior is as beautiful as the exterior. A new dash shares components and electrics with the saloon, but it’s reshaped and set lower to complement the cosseting, sunken sports seats.
You’d expect the Coupé to be sharper to drive, too, and it is, thanks in part to a shorter wheelbase, developed from the C-Class. It feels more agile and keener to turn in, and has huge reserves of front-end grip.
It rides with a grace and composure that’s reminiscent of Mercedes models of old. Body control is superb, without having to resort to rock-solid suspension. We drove the SE – this has the softer of the two suspension set-ups, and it fits the car’s character better.
The other option is the Sport model, which feels much firmer and gets flustered on anything other than immaculately smooth surfaces. Our E-Class Coupé was equipped with the potent 2.2-litre turbodiesel, producing 201bhp and 500Nm of torque. But thanks to the BlueEFFICIENCY tweaks it will still return 55mpg and emit only 135g/km of CO2.
Mated to the super-smooth 7G-TRONIC auto gearbox, which can jump two cogs at a time in search for the perfect ratio, the unit offers surging acceleration from anywhere in the rev range.
But in squeezing so much from such a small-capacity motor, refinement has been sacrificed when compared to the silky six-cylinder units. From launch in June, only the E350 CDI and E350 CGI petrol will be offered, alongside the V8 E500 – this four-cylinder E250 CDI arrives with the E250 CGI in September.
Regardless of the engine, the two-door offers the passion and personality that’s lacking from the clinical saloon – and it takes Mercedes back into
contention in the coupé class.
Rival: Audi A5
it can’t deliver the same level of driver involvement as the BMW 3-Series, or compete with the Mercedes for refinement. But with huge reserves of grip and balance, the A5 is a good compromise between the two.
* Price: £30,300
* Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl, 201bhp
* Torque: 500Nm
* 0-62mph: 7.4 seconds
* Top speed: 155mph
* Economy: 55.4mpg
* CO2: 135g/km
* Equipment: Leather, heated seats, cruise control, 17-inch alloys, parking sensors, eight-speaker stereo with Bluetooth
* On sale: Sept