We're scratching our heads here trying to figure this one out.
When one of the big three German luxury automakers releases a new car, it's usually pretty easy to get an idea of where it sits relative to the competition. For example, the new E-Class was revealed recently and stacking it up against the competition was very simple. Both BMW and Audi have four and six-cylinder versions of the 5 Series and A6, and the AMG E-Class clearly competes against the M5. However, Mercedes just revealed the E-Class Coupe, and this model is slightly perplexing.
There is nothing wrong with the E-Class Coupe, although we think it's the third-best looking coupe in the lineup. It isn't quite as grandiose as the S-Class Coupe nor as sleek as the C-Class Coupe. It's just kind of odd with those strange split rear windows. At least the interior is wonderful.
We never really understood the previous generation E-Class Coupe. At one point, it sort of made sense because there was no C-Class Coupe in the Mercedes lineup. However, once the C-Class Coupe came along, the E-Class Coupe appeared redundant. Still, the E-Class remained the only affordable convertible option with four seats from Mercedes for a long time. When Mercedes revealed the newest generation C-Class, which comes as a coupe and a convertible, we knew that Mercedes had finally come to its senses with the E-Class Coupe. Boy were we wrong. Mercedes introduced the E-Class sedan, which we were expecting, but we thought the coupe would be killed off.
Now that the C-Class comes as a coupe and a convertible, we don't really see why Mercedes needs an E-Class Coupe. When you were cross shopping convertibles and coupes a few years ago, it was a bit odd that the offerings from Audi and BMW were based on the A4 and 3 Series but Mercedes only offered a coupe/convertible that was based on the bigger E-Class. This might have indicated that the E-Class coupe and convertible were never really meant to compete with the A5 and 3 Series, but we can't think of what they were meant to compete with. Audi has never built a coupe version of the A6, unless you count the A7, and the BMW 6 Series was way more expensive than the E-Class Coupe.
An E-Class Coupe cost around $52,000, but the 6 Series was around $77,000. That meant that the E-Class Coupe was always in a weird middle point compared to the competition. Even today, the E-Class Coupe is sitting in an odd place between the C-Class and the S-Class Coupe, both of which we love. One other oddity of the E-Class Coupe is that there has never been an AMG version. In the US, the new car will probably come with either the 2.0-liter four-cylinder or the 3.0-liter V6 with 245 and 333 horsepower respectively. We know a hybrid AMG 50 model is in the works, but this would be the first time we have seen a sporty version of the E-Class coupe.
A new hybrid AMG variant could drastically change our opinion on the E-Class Coupe, but we still have to question why Mercedes is so anxious to cannibalize its own sales. We love the AMG version of the C-Class and S-Class Coupe, and we think that the E-Class Coupe could steal sales away from both. Also, the hybrid powertrain for the E50 would use the M256 in-line six-cylinder which could produce around 450 hp. That is less power than the C63 AMG, so we aren't sure how the E50 would be priced and slotted in the lineup. We are still having a bit of trouble explaining what exactly the E-Class Coupe is supposed to be, but here are some key distinctions that may differentiate it.
The E-Class Coupe has never been about performance. Buyers looking for a comfortable coupe with usable back seats will be happy with the E-Class Coupe. The S-Class Coupe is too expensive, and the C-Class Coupe is a bit too uncomfortable. It is rare that an automaker builds a coupe that doesn't sacrifice comfort for sportiness, so the E-Class is a breath of fresh air. This is the ideal coupe for older customers who like the idea of having something sporty, without any of the drawbacks. The ultra-rich will stick to the S-Class, and the thrill-seekers will stick to the C-Class. The E-Class then is for those somewhere in the middle, whoever they are.