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I remember it like it was yesterday.

The silver bullet passed us ferociously and I was left wondering "What kind of Mercedes was that?" It had two doors, an aggressive body kit, four circular headlights and awesome five-spoke wheels.

Did you guess?

Well, it was a W208 CLK430, of course. I adored that car.

Then, Mercedes-Benz introduced the W209 CLK and it was not terribly exciting. Lacking that certain gusto of the original CLK, it did not speak to many male buyers – excluding the Black Series. Soon enough, Brittany Spears was pedaling one around town and I am pretty confident that was equal to stabbing a vampire in the heart with a silver blade.

Fast forward to the 2010 model year. The all-new E-Class made its highly anticipated debut to a lot of critics who said it was an abysmal effort at best. On the other hand, we think it is a great car and its sales would back us up on that claim.


2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Photo Gallery



Kicking off the new year with a bang, E-Class sales were up 116 percent year-over-year in January and continued its success into February where the new E-Class sales were up 92 percent YOY. And, it is pretty clear when you look around. In the New York tri-state area they are just about everywhere you turn.

Initially, its looks were not very well received. Even I was not initially sold at the press launch last May. But, after seeing it on the road enough, it seems to have grown on me. Significantly. The sedan is best suited in white or black equipped with the AMG package and a set of five-spoke wheels.

This neatly brings us to the subject of this conversation, the E-Class Coupe. Boasting a much more aggressive look, it certainly makes sure its sporty presence is known on the road. As with all recent Benzes, the E coupe makes sure to capitalize on its much edgier style. Long gone are the days of soft Mercedes designs.

MB's design language has become much more sharp. Not quite at Cadillac levels, where most of the cars appear to be designed with 90 degree angles in mind. This happens to bring back the Benz look of old. Compare the roofline of the current E sedan with a W124 from the late 1980s and early 90s.

My favorite feature of the E coupe are the frameless doors, which shut with Mercedes confidence. Better yet, the E-Class coupe comes sans B-pillars. And think about it, how many coupes don't have a B-pillar?


2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Photo Gallery



But, Mercedes made an error along the way. The C-pillar is adorned with a little fixed window that really kills the flow of the design. Although it was most likely necessary for engineering reasons, it just obliterates the beauty created from the pillar less opening.

Getting behind the wheel of the E coupe, you are confronted with a differently styled interior than the sedan variant and a bus-like, three-spoke steering wheel. Controls are situated in the typical Benz set up and getting used to the COMAND system took all of about two seconds. Until MMI and iDrive step up their game, COMAND is the best out of the German three, no question about it.

COMAND allows for more attention on the road -- thanks to its high placement on the dash -- you can breeze through the menus and the software allows lag-free operation.

When you compare it against the other guys its like taking a MacBook Pro and stacking it up against a PC, it just offers a profoundly better experience in slick package. Two thumbs up, Mercedes.


2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Photo Gallery



Then there are the 14-way adjustable seats, which are swathed in leather that is just about as soft and smooth as a newborn's skin. This stuff feels fabulous but I question how durable it is and how prone it is to getting scratched. Thanks to a slovenly journalist, the leather on the steering wheel, which felt comparable, was adorned with a one inch gash.

My, my, my they sure are comfortable though. And, on the long trips the bottom cushion does not tend to pinch. Magnifique.

Taking a look into the backseat, you may be disappointed. Depending on how tall you and your passengers are, you either may be squeezing for an intimate driving experience or you could have a passable amount of room. Since I am on freakish side of tall, I had enough room behind my seat for a thin briefcase. But, I do not think you buy a coupe for rear seat passenger comfort. At least I wouldn't.

More importantly, though, I knew I had to drive the E350. One, because it is the more sought after model. The E550 will most likely be the lower volume car. Two, I already have driven the various other 550 models so much, it was time for a change.


2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Photo Gallery



With all the buzz surrounding the 350s being underpowered, I also wanted to investigate into its motor's capabilities. Boasting a 3.5 liter V6, the six-cylinder powerplant, it makes 268-horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. This car has more than enough power.

For those naysayers, I have no clue why they believe every car should have 400-horses and do a standing quarter in 12 seconds. It is not realistic for everyday driving or fuel economy.

Unless you need bragging rights, of course.

Whether you need passing power or find yourself in a hairy situation, all you have to do is plant your foot further into the accelerator and it will do the rest. To quibble over a 0-60 time, which is not going to matter to the everyday driver is just, well, senseless.

Paired up with this autobox is a dual-mode seven-speed automatic. Although it offers Comfort and Sport mode, I think it would be better suited to offer a full manual mode, as observed in the 2009 SL550. At least provide it for the rare case a Mercedes driver wants to be able to select gears on their own.

Armed with seven speeds, this 3,600 pound car obtained a real-world 18 MPG. It is not the worst fuel economy I have heard but I think MB is capable of something better. Do not get me wrong, if you are careful I bet you can knock its average above the 20 MPG mark, assuming you are driving on a lot of suburban roads or highways.

Over bumps, craters and any other imaginable road imperfection, the E seems to float on over. What do I mean? It is like driving a baby CL. And what made this readily apparent was the test car I had the week previously, a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X MR Touring. Although I know this car is a hardcore, rally vehicle -- that is not comparable in any fashion -- you cannot illustrate the two different worlds any clearer.

The following week in the 350 was like experiencing a taste of freedom after getting let out of prison.


2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Photo Gallery



The suspension features AGILITY CONTROL, which creates a softer and quieter ride on normal roads, but when needed on the twisties, it is not a lame duck. It is an astonishing balance of sport and comfort. As previously said, it is comparable to driving a scaled down, six-figure CL. I am willing to wager that a magician or unicorn had something to do with its creation.

Through the corners, the E is not going to run flat as there is some body lean associated with high speed cornering, but I did not expect it to. You have to remember that this was not an AMG nor is the coupe considered a serious sports car. The best classification for the 350 is a luxo-cruiser/GT car.

Steering feel is predictably on the numb side but its weighting is more significant than the sedan. This makes taking those “S” curves much more fun and let’s the driver enter with the turn with more speed and confidence.

And here is an interesting revelation, friends. I would not get the 550. Having driven the 550 briefly at the press launch, I was not all that blown away with it. Yes it is quicker, yes it has a V8 rumble but it is not dramatic in any sense. Sadly, it has been confirmed a couple of times by Benz officials that it will not be producing an E63 AMG coupe, neither.

So, basically the firm has relegated the E coupe to be a nice, well-mannered GT cruiser. And there is nothing wrong with that, just be aware that is what the new E coupe is all about.

The most intriguing aspect about the E is that Mercedes increased the amount of features in it and lowered the price. Huh? Lowered the price? Yeah, I know, it is totally the opposite of the other guys.

Now you get PRE-SAFE, which takes protective measures before an imminent crash, ATTENTION ASSIST, which warns the driver of drowsiness and suggests "time for a rest," and finally Adaptive Highbeam Assist. Note: the highbeam assist was a bit too sensitive, even in western New Jersey mountain roads. It works best on streets with absolutely no light.

With that said, the E350 comes in at a base price of $48,925, including destination. Considering what you get, if you are looking for a vehicle with a bigger emphasis on luxury over sport, this is the car you should drive.







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REVIEW: Mercedes-Benz's E350 Coupe Rides Like A Six-Figure CL AND Proves You Do NOT Need The 550's Power

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