Competes with: BMW 8 Series, Maserati GranTurismo
Looks like: The old coupe with the new E-Series front end
Powertrains: Turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine with 48-volt mild-hybrid system (362-horsepower E450, 429-hp AMG E53); nine-speed automatic transmission; rear- or all-wheel drive (AWD standard on AMG E53)
Hits dealers: Late 2020
Personal luxury coupes are something of a dying breed. There are only really three competitors in this category, but Mercedes-Benz is sticking to its traditions, offering up a newly refreshed version of the E-Class coupe and cabriolet (convertible) for the 2021 model year. The base model offered in the U.S. will be the E450, while a more powerful sport edition will be offered in the AMG E53, featuring the same engine and transmission but tuned to a much higher performance level and paired with standard all-wheel drive.
The E-Class coupe and cabrio get the same styling updates as the bigger sedan and wagon that we saw previously, with a revised corporate front end that now includes standard LED headlights with revised patterns, new upper and lower grilles, new 18-inch wheels sporting run-flat tires and a more streamlined shape. Out back, the coupes differ from the sedans and more closely resemble the already-updated C-Class coupes in terms of style.
The AMG versions get suitably AMG-styled updates, including front and rear styling, an updated A-wing grille, a new rear diffuser and standard 19-inch wheels with optional 20-inch units.
The convertible top is a soft one, not a retractable hardtop, but it is sufficiently insulated that Mercedes-Benz calls the cabriolet an all-season vehicle. The convertibles also feature an updated version of Mercedes-Benz’s Aircap electronic windscreen deflector and a special cabin neck-warmer feature built into the seats called Airscarf. (Previous testing of both of these features on older models has proven that they work surprisingly well in keeping occupants draft-free and toasty in chillier top-down motoring conditions.)
Inside, the look is largely the same as the outgoing models, with a few notable exceptions. Present front and center is a new 12.3-inch dual-screen system seen on most other mid-size and larger Mercedes models, now featuring the latest MBUX multimedia system. That system brings enhanced voice controls to the E-Class coupe and cabriolet, such as the “Hey, Mercedes” digital concierge, a new touchscreen and touchpad, as well as enhanced functions like the optional Augmented Video for Navigation, which is pretty slick.
Mercedes-Benz is particularly proud of its new steering wheel, which features a capacitive-touch sensor in the rim itself to let the car know if you’re actually touching the wheel or not. This is useful for the semi-autonomous driving systems the car has, such as steering assist, which will steer the car as part of the automatic cruise control system and until now has always asked you to provide some steering input every now and then to let it know you’re paying attention; now, simply having a hand on the wheel will let it know you’re still there. That new wheel also features a number of capacitive-touch systems in the spokes instead of buttons — we’re reserving judgement on whether or not this is an improvement until it can be tested, given that not many of us are fans of Mercedes-Benz’s current capacitive-touch steering-wheel controls.
The cars will also get a host of standard features for the interior that underscore their luxury coupe status, such as a 64-color ambient lighting function, smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless inductive charging pad, the Burmester premium audio system, a panoramic glass roof (coupes only) and memory seats. The AMG E53 adds some unique interior appointments and a heated steering wheel.
Engine and Transmission
Both the E450 and AMG E53 are powered by the same engine, albeit differently tuned: a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder with EQ Boost — Mercedes-Benz’s 48-volt mild-hybrid system that can boost engine output on demand. It makes 362 horsepower and 369 pounds-feet of torque in the E450, and 429 hp and 384 pounds-feet of torque in the E53. Both engines are mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, but the E53 gets a sportier tune to its gearbox.
The E450 comes with rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive as an option; the E53 gets all-wheel drive standard. In addition, the E53 gets an adjustable sport suspension based on the Air Body Control system for more responsive handling.
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As befits cars of this price class, myriad optional electronic safety systems and driver assistance systems abound, but not much is new here. Standard on both models are Active Brake Assist, and an automatic parking feature with a surround-view camera, an attention monitor, blind spot assist, crosswind assist, and Mercedes-Benz Pre-Safe and Pre-Safe Sound pre-collision systems.
The list of optional equipment is much longer — specify the Driver Assistance Package and you get adaptive cruise control with route-based speed adaptation, active stop-and-go assist, active steering assist, active emergency stop assist, active lane-change assist, active blind spot assist, active speed limit assist with traffic sign recognition, active lane keep assist and more.
The new 2021 Mercedes E-Class coupe and cabriolet in E450 and AMG E53 guise are set to go on sale in the U.S. late in 2020, with pricing announced closer to the on-sale dates.
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