It was a typical scenario for the E-Class coupe: a pair of empty nesters, off for a weekend in the Breede Valley, stopping off at a farm or two for lunch and some wine shopping for Saturday dinner on the patio with friends.
Yes, we could have done it all in a hatchback, but never with such style and elegance. And when we loaded up two friends in the back for a sightseeing jaunt, everyone had ample stretch-out space.
The four-cylinder diesel – a new 2,0-litre – strikes the only discordant note here, but even that’s muted. Fact is, with 143 kW and 400 N.m on tap you’re hardly likely to feel short-changed when you feel the need to blast past slower-moving traffic. Yet at the same time you’ll smile at the thought of the great economy at your disposal. (Consumption of 4,0 litres/100 is claimed, though in the real world you’ll get 5 to 6.) What’s even more pleasing, though it shouldn’t be in 2017, is just how refined this engine is. At start-up it’s surprisingly quiet and clatter-free; once up to operating temperature, it delivers a smooth flow of urge throughout the rev range. Complementing it superbly is the standard 9-speed automatic transmission, whose shifts are well nigh imperceptible.
For those who can’t resist fiddling with the controls, there are several driving modes – from Eco through Comfort, a couple of sporty options and a customisable Individual setting. I decided to let the car do the thinking for me and frankly didn’t see the benefit to be had, in normal driving, to use anything other than Comfort.
As an open road cruiser the combination of compact yet powerful diesel and elegant coupe is hard to beat. As evidence: our drive out to Bonnievale on the Breede River, 200 kilometres or so each way, passed as serenely as a couple of hours in a flotation tank at the spa. Yet in day-to-day driving, it’s equally cossetting. Even traffic jamming doesn’t get to the driver thanks to the comprehensive suite of driver aids, including that smart adaptive cruise control with piloting assistance that provides semi-autonomous drive.
Although the new E-Class Coupe has grown in size compared with its predecessor, its proportions are nicely balanced and it looks easier on the eye than the C-Class version – plus, of course, it’s bigger on the inside.
From the driver’s seat, the view out over the bonnet features the distinctive double power bulge, though again with what’s actually under the bonnet the overall effect doesn’t quite measure up to the impression created. To add further distinction ot the looks is a single-louvred diamond grille, and LED lighting front and rear with visual effects built in.
As this is meant to be a rather special variation on the standard E-Class, it was good that our coupe had the optional Widescreen Cockpit, which combines a pair of large customisable 12,3-inch screens – in addition to a head-up display. I couldn’t help feeling a mild sensation of switchgear and display overload.
From an overall comfort point of view, as previously mentioned, despite the two-door configuration the passenger space is ample and the boot swallowed up weekend luggage for two plus the spoils of our wine-farm shopping spree. Still, with 425 litres of boot space on offer, don’t bank on being able to carry luggage for four.
As a thoroughly modern Mercedes this E is replete with technology aimed at enhancing the drive, and even the park for that matter, with Remote Parking Pilot available.
Just the facts
Engine four-cylinder diesel, turbocharged
Output 143 kW/400 N.m
Economy 4,0 litres/100 km
Price R863 4000