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2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class E550 Coupe Review

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2010 Mercedes-Benz E550

See Also: Mercedes-Benz Buyers Guide 1997-2010

A Coupe with Style and Panache
By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau

This is another of those cars that I didn’t want to give back at the end of the week. It’s one of those cars that felt sooooo good in every way. I also felt deprived and a bit disappointed because I was out of town on another project for three days during my week with the E-Class V8 Coupe, meaning I had that much less time to enjoy it. I did feel like I got a thorough sense of the car in those few days, though.

This is the mid-size, full-zoot, luxury 2+2 coupe introduced about a year ago by Mercedes-Benz. As you would expect from this upscale German sedan the Teutonic luxury really shines through everything else. It replaces the beautiful CLK we reviewed two summers ago, and share substructure with both C and E-Class siblings. Wheelbase is about the same as the C-Class but it really feels more the size of the E-Class sedan.

We’ve come to expect leadership in style and design from this respected German firm, and we are not disappointed with this new E-Class Coupe. The front view is a bit busy, but it’s busy with dramatic shapes – lots of sharp-angled trapezoids combining in a bit of swoopy drama. The long hood, steeply raked windshield and sloping roofline make for a bold and classic coupe profile. The bulging rear flank with exaggerated outline of the rear wheel arch provides a surprising visual element hinting at the shape of a 1930s rear flank flare. Bold character lines flow and rise rearward expanding out to a forward-sloping deck and tail that is anything but plain and boring. Dual exhausts with large outlets hint at the power and thrust lurking within.

Sidling in through the huge door and into the extra firm driver’s seat we feel like someone important, being surrounded by such and amazing level of technology, quality and luxury. Looking over our shoulder we see the 2+2 seating (rather than a typical 5-passenger layout) with a high console between the rear seats like some of the exotic 2+2s. The rear seats themselves are deep and essentially the same as typical front buckets, well bolstered and clad in mighty fine leather. Look in front of us and the five-gauge instrument cluster includes a nice big analog clock along with the other essential dials. Everything we touch has a gratifying, up-scale feel and most of the functions are easily managed.

The rear seat backs fold for a bit of extra utility and the trunk holds an admirable 15.9 cubic-feet of stuff.

The only criticism of the interior I have is, like my pretty blonde’s SLK, I found the seats a bit to narrow and hard for my broad beam. After more than an hour in the driver’s seat my backside began to hurt. This would not be a problem, I’m sure, for someone with a more modest physique.

Perhaps the best thing about this luxury car is the performance. Of course, that term refers to more than just acceleration, but the acceleration is awesome with zero-to 60 time of 5 seconds flat. That happens because of this 382-horsepower, 5.5-liter V8 mated to a new 7-speed adaptive automatic transmission. It really feels like 400+ horsepower, perhaps because it generates so much torque - 391 pound-feet. The AMG version of this engine makes 518 horsepower (not yet available in the coupe) and gains a few tenths of a second better zero-to-60 time, but I must say, the non-AMG version provides plenty of adrenalin on full throttle.

The EPA rates fuel economy at 15 in the city and 23 on the highway using premium fuel.

We love the appearance of the brakes. Doesn’t that sound silly? But, through the aggressively styled, 5-spoke, 18-inch wheels we can see the perforated, oversized discs with painted calipers sporting the Mercedes-Benz name. With wide-open alloy, aluminum and chrome wheels so popular on many cars why not include the brake calipers as a styling element. Tires are aggressive-looking 235/40R18 in the front and 255/35R18 on the rear.

Brakes, steering, suspension – all are first rate. Much of the independent suspension design and geometry is shared with the last C-Class, that is, McPherson struts in front and a five-link arrangement in the rear. With sporty tuning and adaptive capability the dynamic systems keeps pace with both your driving style and with road conditions. I pushed it rather hard this week and was thrilled with its poise and balance. It never felt too harsh, though it is certainly tight and sporty.

The E550 lists at $54,650 and, as you might guess, you get a lot of luxury content for that price. Add the $6,350 Premium Package (40GB Hard Drive GPS Navigation with Real-Time Traffic Data, Voice Control, 6GB Music Register, Harman/Kardon Logic7 Surround Sound System with Dolby Digital 5.1, HD Radio, Sirius Satellite Radio, iPod/MP3 Media Interface, Rear Window Sunshade, Rear View Camera, Heated and Active Ventilated Front Seats, Bi-Xenon Headlamps with Active Curve Illumination, Adaptive High Beam Assist, LED Daytime Running Lights, LED Front Turn Indicators, Headlamp Washers and Keyless Entry and Ignition) and the $750 Wood/Leather Steering Wheel and Shift Knob option, plus $875 for delivery and our bottom line is $$63,345.

The E-Class Coupe with a 268-horsepower V6 (E350) can be had for a base price of only $48,000 and the super-hot AMG E63 is available in sedan guise with well over 500 horsepower. But, that powertrain is not available in the coupe yet.

One particular ergonomic charm of the E550 Coupe needs mentioning. Since it is a coupe with extra long doors the shoulder strap mounts are considerably behind us so when we start the car the shoulder strap guide moves forward like magic so we can grasp it more easily. Though once you grasp it and pull it across your chest the receptacle is unnecessarily deep between the seat and the console.

Mercedes’ new car warranty covers the car for 4 years or 50,000 miles.

My only other complaint this week was the annoying parking brake that kept setting itself without me telling it to. Perhaps M-B has programmed in some nuance that controls that function but I found it most off-putting.

So, if you’re in this market – upscale, sexy, luxury sport coupe with plenty of room for guests (two guests, that is) this one ought to be on your shopping list.

See Also: Mercedes-Benz Buyers Guide 1997-2010

ęSteve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved