Mercedes E350 Coupe CDI

Does sleek two-door shape up?

Style counts for a lot in the coupé class, and as the replacement for the CLK – an established favourite in this market – the new two-door E-Class needs to impress. And it makes a good start, as its design is more successful than the four-door’s.
While it lacks the muscular purpose of the Audi, its striking front grille, pillar-free design and fully retractable side windows are perfectly in keeping with coupé models from the firm’s past. And if you thought Mercedes was making bold claims about the shape of the saloon, bosses reckon the Coupé is the most aerodynamically efficient production car in the world!
As with the four-door, it features a lot of safety kit. A small coffee cup symbol on the digital instrument panel lets you know the firm’s new Attention Assist feature is working. It checks for signs of drowsiness in the driver and sounds an alarm if it detects a drop in attention.
The rest of the interior is loaded with equipment, too, but it shares its angular design with the four-door car, so it looks and feels cheaper than the classy Audi. There is plenty of space, though, and its rear seats are comparable with those in the A5, with enough room for adults to sit in relative comfort. And only five litres separate our two cars on boot space.
In SE trim, there’s a lot of equipment, including heated leather seats and cruise control. But the panoramic glass sunroof fitted to our car is a £1,287 extra – which is a shame, because it gives the cabin an airy feel.
From behind the wheel, there is ample scope to adjust the driving position and the seatbelt is delivered to your shoulder by a neat electronic arm – in the Audi you have to reach back to find the buckle. And with no B-post to worry about, over-the-shoulder visibility is excellent.
On the road, the new 3.0-litre V6 diesel provides impressive punch. Matched to Mercedes’ seven-speed automatic gearbox, it propelled the E350 CDI from 0-60mph in 6.2 seconds. 
The four-wheel-drive Audi’s extra traction gave it the edge off the line, but the Mercedes was faster once it was up and running. With 540Nm of torque from only 1,600rpm, the powerplant is both smooth and refined, making the Mercedes a quieter cruiser. Pull off the dual carriageway, though, and the cracks begin to show. Our SE model’s softer suspension does a better job of soaking up bumps than both our Sport spec saloon and its A5 S line rival, but it doesn’t cushion passengers like Mercedes coupés of old.
The steering also provides little in the way of feel and the car reacts slowly to inputs. 
Even the brakes disappoint: the pedal is soft, has too much travel and ultimately provides poor performance.
Overall, there’s nothing here to upset fans of the brand so, as with the E-Class saloon, it will appeal to existing customers. The question is, does the Coupé do enough to attract new buyers?


WHY: Can the CLK's replacement match up to the current coupe crop?

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