Review: 2010 Mercedes E-Class Coupe

Jay Shoemaker
by Jay Shoemaker
review 2010 mercedes e class coupe

I was expecting to dislike the new E-Class Coupe from Mercedes. AMG versions aside, the outgoing CLK was about as interesting to drive as a Toyota Solara, and Mercedes has already announced that there would be no AMG versions of the new car. From the early photos of E-Class Coupe, I had already determined that the large glass sunroof with its meager mesh sun protection would curry little favor with me, and the little rear quarter window spoiled the look of this frameless coupe. To make matters worse, the 2010 E-Class Coupe’s engines are carryovers from the CLK. Mercedes claims our fuel quality isn’t suitable for the new direct injected engines offered in Europe. (Translation: the US is a dumping ground for some old engine inventory.) The E-Class nomenclature is another sleight of hand, as the chassis is still derived from the C-Class. Harrumph.

Still, the new car is attractive enough: a bulldog version of its much larger CL brother. Aesthetic joy: the louvered fairings under the rear valence hearken back to the AMG Black Series CLK. There is an exuberance of glitz in front—acres of chrome and four (count ’em) fog lights—which make for quite an entrance.

This “the CLK has moved up a notch” theme continues inside, where Mercedes has blessed the dash materials with a welcome upgrade and jewel-like gauges. The E-Class Coupe’s cabin design may be overly square, but modern and luxurious. The two-door’s seats have a wide range of adjustability. While comfy, the leather quality could use [another] upgrading. That said, the steering wheel was covered in buttery smooth leather; well worth a lengthy caress. And although the aforementioned rear opera window is ugly, it enhances the model’s existing, class-leading outward visibility.

In terms of toys, there are more than enough gizmos to tease the gods of depreciation. The standard “attention assist” is little more than an alarm clock which shows you a picture of a coffee cup after a pre-determined period. [Ed: Coffee!] The sound system is state of the art, offering power and clarity for the standard high definition radio, available satellite radio, DVD changer, hard drive music register and MP3 player, all accessible via a COMAND center lifted from the S-Class that is intuitive and easy to use. E-Class Coupe’s adaptive lighting swivels in relation to turns and automatically dims the high beams when encountering oncoming traffic.

Distronic Plus radar cruise control is available on the small coupe for the first time. You can’t fault the algorithm, but I call it the “rude driver” encouragement system. You can also order advanced parking guidance, which is as silly here as in the Lexus applications. There is a hold function for the brakes at stoplights, but its operation was buried deep inside one of the electronic menus.

If I closed my eyes and tried to guess the E-Class Coupe’s brand (closed course, no stationary objects), I would have guessed 75/25 Mercedes/BMW. The Merc’s steering offers shocking heft and directness. Under wide open throttle, the 268 horsepower V6’s exhaust note is throaty and enthusiastic. The speed matched the sonic pleasure; the E-Class Coupe can complete the 0 – 60 jaunt in a scant 6.2 seconds. The Merc’s brakes were easy to modulate and effective. The car’s engineers have dialed-back Mercedes’ typical syrupy throttle tip-in by a few notches—although it still emphasizes smoothness over sport. The transmission felt creamy and effortless on part throttle but downshifted somewhat harshly when caned.

The E-Class Coupe’s handling is much improved versus the CLK, although initial turn-in lacked the bite and encouragement compared to its BMW 3 Series competition. Overall the driving experience is impressive, more involving when you want it but with an overriding sense of luxury and composure. Softer than Audi or BMW and perhaps lacking in a pure sporting edge. In other words, it’s a grand tourer.

So Merc’s moved the CLK upscale in image and pricing and changed the name to fool the innocent. That’s about half right. The pricing on the new E-Class Coupe is about the same as the outgoing CLK: $48,050 compared to $48,100 Needless to say, the E-Class Sedan is touted as $4,600 cheaper than the E-Class car it replaces. As usual, the Mercedes E-Class Coupe is more expensive than its German rivals; the BMW 328 with automatic starts at $38,650 (good luck finding one of those). The Audi A5 with automatic starts at $42,000. Preliminary fuel economy figures are listed at 18 in the city and 26 on the highway; the BMW is slightly more fuel efficient while the Audi is slightly less.

Once upon a time, you bought BMW for performance, Audi for style and Mercedes for luxury and prestige. Without giving up any of it traditional virtues, Mercedes has dialed-up the style and sport in this new E-Class Coupe, making the choice of one of these three alternatives more difficult than ever.

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2 of 19 comments
  • Hans007 Hans007 on Jun 18, 2009

    i've sat in the E class sedan and coupe. The sedan is a much different vehicle (and i'd say nicer). The problem is the E class coupe is E class priced but made from a C class. if you sit inside them back to back you know they are the same. THe E class coupe for example has the same width, the same switch gear and even the same transmission selector. THe E sedan actaully has a column one with paddle shifters and you can feel taht its a different platform. If the E coupe was $10k less and called the C coupe, I think it would be fantastic. But just like the CLK it is $10k more but based on the same platform as the C sedan. It sort of ruins it that its expensive I guess.

  • Ohsnapback Ohsnapback on Jun 21, 2009

    This car has a face only a mother could love. What's up with these jelly bean-esque contortions? Rear head room much? I think we'd all be better off if automakers gave us more practicality, even in a coupe such as this. I know style sells cars initially, but I'm not sure the original owner doesn't come to have buyer's remorse for the trade-offs involved. And let's hope MB has worked out the electronic and electrical gremlins that had many of their cars listed as least reliable for the several last years.

  • MaintenanceCosts We need cheaper batteries. This is a difficult proposition at $50k base/$60k as tested but would be pretty compelling at $40k base/$50k as tested.
  • Scott ?Wonder what Toyota will be using when they enter the market?
  • Fred The bigger issue is what happens to the other systems as demand dwindles? Will thet convert or will they just just shut down?
  • Roger hopkins Why do they all have to be 4 door??? Why not a "cab & a half" and a bit longer box. This is just another station wagon of the 21st century. Maybe they should put fake woodgrain on the side lol...
  • Greg Add me to the list: 2017 Sorento EX AWD w/2.0 Turbo GDI 68K miles. Changed oil religiously with only synthetic. Checked oil level before a rare long road trip and Ievel was at least 2 quarts down. That was less than 6 months after the last oil change. I'm now adding a quart of oil every 1000 miles and checking every 500 miles because I read reports that the oil usage gets worse. Too bad, really like the 2023 Tuscon. But I have not seen Hyundai/Kia doing anything new in terms of engine development. Therefore, I have to suspect that I will ony become a victim of a fatally flawed engine development program if I were to a purchase another Kia/Hyundai.