New coup, sedan soup up E-Class

| Image 1 of 3 |
The coupe is less honed in those respects, though the E400 variant, which features 4Matic all-wheel-drive, holds very well through bends. Photo: Supplied

MERCEDES-BENZ'S E-Class is already a star car as current holder of the country's top motoring award.

The NZ Car of the Year success was all the more impressive for the new Mercedes because it was awarded on the basis of the mainstream E-Class range.

Now we're seeing a sensational-looking coupe and, from AMG, a sizzling performance sedan. Unsurprisingly, these considerably enhance the E-Class recipe's flavour and flair, albeit in different ways.

Here in three petrol versions, a pair of 2.0-litre turbo fours and a turbo V6 3.0-litre, the coupe is a grand tourer; it has millionaire swank, yet carries just a $2000-$3000 premium over the comparable sedans.

The AMG is also about finesse, but the $80K premium over the most expensive coupe mainly buys fire. A supercar-slaying 0-100kmh time of 3.4 seconds and a 300kmh top speed redefines the category.

So it's a head-spinner, for sure. And yet, if you're buying into head-turning, the coupe potentially provides better return.

The E63 S is not unattractive by any means, but even with bigger wheels, special seats and some carbon fibre inside and out, it isn't Affalterbach's most overtly sporting effort. Wheel arches are only slightly flared, the frontal openings only moderately enlarged, those quad exhausts and boot spoiler discreetly packaged.

The devil's in the details: I'm pretty sure the mainstream E-Class doesn't have G meters, track lap timers, the mischief additions of an F1-style launch control and drift mode or the option of ceramic brakes. Any deception is fully blown when the engine is activated, the thing having an unbelievably deep idle rumble, rising to who-let-the-tiger- out ferocity at full throttle.

About that: so much power, so little opportunity to use it on a press drive contained to public roads. In something this potent, you're just a toe twitch away from making Highway Patrol's all-time top 10. At least, even when using one-tenth available thrust, you can still revel in the incredible cornering dynamics, brilliant brakes and super-precise steering.

The coupe is less honed in those respects, though the E400 variant, which features 4Matic all-wheel-drive, holds very well through bends and its engine does a nice line in snap-crackle on over-run in Sport.

Otherwise it's Mr Smooth with schmooze ... the imperceptible manner in which all versions juggle though the nine-speed auto impresses and the ride is almost more cosseting in the performance modes than AMG delivers in its softest setting.

The big benefit of the coupe is that, aside from being bolder looking than before, it's also quite roomy within. The tall won't be fully comfy, yet when measured against the opposition, it wins.

An indulgence within this expensive- looking interior comes from air vents across the console rendered to look like jet engine nozzles. Otherwise, the layout is just as you find it in the E sedan, including that huge double-width screen spanning the dash.

New coup, sedan soup up E-Class
At a Glance

ERCEDES-BENZ E-CLASS COUPE
SPECIFICATIONS

Price: $102,900 E200, $122,900 E300, $151,900
E400
Engines: 1991cc four-cylinder turbo petrol,
maximum power 135kW@5500rpm, maximum
torque 300Nm@1200-4000rpm; 1991cc four-
cylinder turbo petrol, maximum power
180kW@5500rpm, maximum torque
370Nm@1400-4000rpm; 2996cc six-cylinder turbo
petrol, maximum power 245W@5250-6000rpm,
maximum torque 480Nm@1600-4000rpm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic, rear-drive
(E200, E300), 4Matic four-wheel-drive (E400)
Brakes and stability systems: Front and rear disc
brakes, ABS, BA, Pre-Safe Plus
Safety rating: Five stars
Wheels and tyres: Alloy wheels, 245/40 R19 front,
275/35 rear (E200), 245/35 R20 front, 275/30 R20
rear tyres (E300, E400)
Fuel and economy (E200/E300/E400): 6.8/7.1/8.5
litres per 100km, tank capacity 66 litres
Emissions (E200/E300/E400): 154/163/191g of
CO2/km
Dimensions: Length 4826mm, width 1860mm,
height 1430mm

MERCEDES-BENZ AMG E63 S
SPECIFICATIONS

Price: $229,900
Engine: 3982cc twin-turbo eight-cylinder turbo
petrol, maximum power 450kW@5750-6500rpm,
maximum torque 850Nm@2500-4500rpm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic, 4Matic four-
wheel-drive
Brakes and stability systems: Front and rear disc
brakes, ABS, BA, ASR, Pre-Safe Plus
Safety rating: Five stars
Wheels and tyres: Alloy wheels, 265/35 R20 front,
295/30 R20 rear tyres
Fuel and economy: 9.3 litres per 100km, tank
capacity 80 litres
Emissions: 212g of CO2/km
Dimensions: Length 4923mm, width 2065mm,
height 1468mm