Picture: MERCEDES-BENZ
Picture: MERCEDES-BENZ

The ever-expanding mid-size Mercedes-Benz range is about to get even bigger when the German premium group takes the wraps off its E-Class coupe.

The two-door, four-seat hardtop joins the E-Class sedan next year and a convertible version is expected in 2018 or 2019.

The move gives Mercedes the broadest passenger car-based coupe footprint of any premium car maker, with hardtop two-door versions of the C-, E-and S-classes. Audi has just the A5 and its variants, while BMW has only the 4 and 6 Series coupes.

"With its clear, aesthetic lines, our new E-Class coupé appeals equally to heart and mind," says Thomas Weber, member of the board of management of Daimler responsible for group research and Mercedes-Benz Cars development.

"It condenses contemporary luxury, agile sportiness and hi-tech engineering into an automotive personality with esprit, offering exclusive, refined driving pleasure."

Picture: MERCEDES-BENZ
Picture: MERCEDES-BENZ

It’s also the last car Weber will lead into production, as the lean engineer (often seen in the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 garage with chairman Dieter Zetsche) retires at the end of this year to be replaced by former AMG boss Ola Kälenius.

This car will adopt the powertrain choices from the E-Class sedan and its three-chamber air suspension system, part-autonomous driving technology, wide-screen cockpit layout and smartphone integration.

It’s a far longer, wider car, with more interior space, than its predecessor, and well it should be. The old E-Class coupe was actually a C-Class wearing E-Class lookalike clothes, while this one is actually based off the E-Class range.

The car is 4,826mm long, 1,860mm wide and 1,430mm high, though perhaps the key handling-related dimension is that the 1,605mm front and 1,609mm rear tracks mean the front wheels sit 67mm further apart than before, while the rear wheels are 68mm further apart.

Picture: MERCEDES-BENZ
Picture: MERCEDES-BENZ

Almost 200mm shorter than the S-Class coupe, the new model is 123mm longer than its predecessor, with 113mm of that coming from within the wheelbase. It’s also 74mm wider and 32mm higher.

Benz claims most of the gains in wheelbase and height have been given over to the rear seat occupants, who were very much the poor relations last time around. It insists full-size adults can sit comfortably in the rear for extended periods thanks to a 74mm increase in legroom and a 15mm jump in headroom.

The front end might not have won the arguments over legroom (and didn’t need to, frankly), but they won all the others. Front seat passengers get an 18mm rise in headroom, a 50mm lift in shoulder space (the rear seats get a lift of only 34mm) and 38mm more elbow room (versus 13mm more in the rear).

Local derivatives have yet to be confirmed but it will launch in international markets with three petrol engines and a single diesel, giving it a power range from 135kW to 245kW, though a thicker soup of engines will follow, as will all-wheel drive versions and we fully expect an AMG derivative in the future too.

Picture: MERCEDES-BENZ
Picture: MERCEDES-BENZ

The heaviest hitter for now will be the 3.0l, turbocharged petrol V6 E400 4Matic, with 245kW of power and 480Nm, pushing the coupe to 100km/h in a claimed 5.3 seconds and posting an average consumption figure of 8.1l/100km.

It’s backed up by E200 and E300, which share the same 2.0l four-cylinder turbo petrol engine. The E200 uses a 135kW/300Nm version of it to post claimed consumption numbers of 6.0l/100km and a 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.8 seconds, while the E300 gets 180kW/370Nm and cuts the sprint to 6.4 seconds.

The new modular four-cylinder diesel turbo delivers 143kW of power and 400Nm and, with a 7.4 second sprint, it’s not the slowest of the coupes, either. It slashes fuel consumption to 4.0l/100km for a CO2 figure of 106g/km.

All of them use nine-speed automatic transmissions, while the coupe’s ride height has been lowered by 15mm over the sedan.

The frameless side windows and long bonnet, give a visual emphasis of the cab-back proportions, while Benz’s design team has given it a uniquely squat and muscular rear end.

It will also debut a new welcome light in the tail lights, in addition to the new normal ones in the side mirrors. The LED tail lights illuminate progressively from the centre of the car whenever the doors are unlocked, then reverse the process to say goodbye whenever it is locked.

Top-end versions of the coupe will also be standard with LED multibeam headlights, along with the sedan’s two high-resolution 12.3-inch displays linked together to emphasise the car’s width.

Like the sedans, the layout can be switched between standard, sport and "progressive" display designs, depending on the mood, and the interior’s LED moodlights can slide through all colours of the rainbow and a range of brightness levels.

Now the baton passes over the BMW, which is planning to reveal its new 6 and 8 Series coupe models in 2018.

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