Taking on Spain in the New Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe

We cruise around Barcelona and Costa Brava in Mercedes-Benz's latest E-Class car


The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe. Picture / Supplied

It's fitting that Mercedes-Benz decided to hold its global media launch of the new E-Class coupe at Spain's top golf course, PGA Catalunya.

Not only did the drive from Barcelona via country roads and freeways show the performance of the vehicles, but the destination - a golf course - is probably the usual weekend haunt of many of the coupe's owners.

A year after the launch of the award-winning E-Class sedan, with the estate added in Europe, the coupe has now joined the family.

The coupe "shares the same good genes" as the E-Class sedan and is technically based on that four-door business saloon.

New Zealand will get the E200 ($102,900), E300 (from $122,900) and the $151,900 E400. The coupes go on sale here in June.

Mercedes-Benz NZ general manager, Ben Giffin, told Driven that the E-Class coupe "redefines the standards of a classic grand tourer, while incorporating all the award-winning intelligence and technology of the 2016 NZ Car of the Year, the E-Class".

"We've historically had great success with our E400 model, and we expect that to continue now that it arrives with 4MATIC (all-wheel drive)," he said.

"However there's real value for Kiwi buyers in the entry level E200 Coupe, given the level of equipment and driver-assistance technology we've included as standard.

"It's really exceptional."

The E200 is powered by a 2-litre, four cylinder petrol engine capable of producing 135Kw of power and 300Nm of torque, and going from 0-100km/h in 7.8 seconds, a combined fuel efficiency of 6l/100km and a top speed of 240km/h.

The E300 also has the 2-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine but is tweaked to produce 180kW of power and 370Nm of torque, hitting 0-100km in 6.4 seconds.

Its fuel figure is 6.4l/100km and reaches a top speed of 250km/h.

The E400 gains Mercedes-Benz's all-wheel-drive system, 4Matic, with the 3-litre, V6 engine producing 245Kw of power and 480Nm of torque, 0-100km/ in 5.3s and 8.1litres/100km. It, too, has a top speed of 250km/h.

Picture / Supplied

The E200 petrol was not available at the global launch but Driven tested the E300 and E400, which were both fitted with air body control (air suspension with adaptive damping provides improved ride comfort and vehicle dynamics).

The coupe also gains all the technical advancements of the sedan, including dual information screen for the drive, touch controls on the steering wheel and Mercedes' semi-autonomous driving program, Distronic, with steering pilot. It also gains magic vision control with water jets in the wiper.

The four-seater coupe is 15mm lower than the sedan, but has a broader track width than the saloon.

The first global media drive programme was held two days before this week's Geneva motor show, where the next member of the E-Class family, the four-seater soft-top convertible, was revealed.

"The broader the track width, the more firmly it sits on the road," E-Class product manager Lutz Regelmann, told the press briefing at the global launch, at PGA Catalunya's hotel.

"The lower the vehicle, the better the centre of gravity," he said.

The proportions are typical of Mercedes-Benz with a distinctive low sport grille and central star, and a long bonnet with power domes.

The coupe has a decidedly Gran Tourer appearance, with four frameless windows and no visible B-pillar, but it's the C-pillar sitting behind the rear wheels that gives its distinctive look.

READ: Ever Wondered What It's Like Behind the Wheel of a $4.4m Car?

It makes the side panels look very long but the boot area too small, especially with the tapered rear.

Inside, the coupe gains the E-Class sedan's dual infotainment screens running across the dash, plus touchpads on the steering wheel, which I used when I needed to move the head-up display further up the front windscreen.

This meant I didn't have to avert my eyes from the road, instead I just thumped through the touchpad.

Mercedes has kept the turbine blade theme for the air vents from the E-Class sedan. Unfortunately the coupe's ones are too plastic-y for such a car, where aluminum would have suited the class of the vehicle.

The coupe is longer, wider and higher than its predecessor. The E-Class Coupe is based on the W213 chassis, adding additional length (+123mm), width (+74mm) and wheelbase (+113mm) over the outgoing model. These gains increase effective rear legroom by 74mm and shoulder room by 34mm.

For the two rear passengers, this means substantially more head and legroom with an average-size adult easily fitting for long periods of time in the back.

The boot holds 425 litres and is wide enough to fit a set of golf clubs, which would have been great if we had had time enough at the launch to have a round at the famous course. Instead day one was spent in the E300, taking in stop-start traffic around Barcelona's marina area due to it being a Sunday, with lots of locals out and about. Heading down the freeway, with speed limits up to 120km/h, the E300 easily maintained that - though at times we were lagging behind the locals gunning it along the motorway.

Once we headed inland and into the winding coastal mountain roads towards the Costa Brava, the E coupe's 1685kg weight began to show as we tried to take on the tight curves on the narrow roads.

Although the speed limit was an optimistic 90km/h, both my Australian colleague and I struggled to take the corners at more than 55km/h.

To cope with such routes everyday, you'd want to tick the option box for the dynamic body control suspension system with adjustable damping. With this system (that I've used extensively in other Mercedes products), you can set the suspension to comfort, sport or sport+.

Picture / Supplied

Day two saw us move into the E400. Although the coupe weighed 1845kg, it easily handled the winding inland mountain roads from the Costa Brava back to Barcelona. Its increased torque, plus the addition of the standard 4Matic, saw the large coupe tuck into the corners - especially in sport mode - and handle a tight overtaking manoeuvre without causing panic from either the passenger (me) or other drivers.

Once on the freeway into Barcelona, I tried out the distance pilot Distronic and steering pilot (Mercedes' version of near autonomous driving). It's a nifty system that I've used in Europe at the E-Class sedan launch, giving you the ability to keep your hands off the steering wheel for up to three minutes, and to move lanes by just touching the indicator stalk.

The system keeps the coupe at a controlled distance between you and the car in front - and, for the first time, it can follow at speeds of up to 210km/h. (Keep that for autobahn use only please.)

Having just used a similar BMW system, I was impressed by how the coupe could turn corners at speeds of up to 110km/h.

Mercedes says that, at speeds of up to 130km, its system uses a "swarm effect", taking account of surrounding cars and structures, even if road markings are unclear due to roadworks.

Given the conditions on the motorways around Auckland, this would be ideal, especially for E-Class coupe drivers heading to golf courses.

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