Beauty, sure, though the aesthetic advantage of roofline manipulation is debatable—I’m looking at you, ‘98 Chevy Lumina coupe—and maybe a slight dynamic edge thanks to a shorter wheelbase and some jettisoned sheet metal. But really, in this particular class, consumers buy the racy version to illustrate that while they’ve chosen a popular model—Mercedes moves around 50,000 E-Classes annually in the U.S.—they’ve brought passion to the purchase. It shows they will deviate a lurid 30 percent from expected. Their accountant may have directed them to the Honda dealer, but a wanton libido led them to request the Civic coupe.
The question is: does the Mercedes E400 Coupe rise above that cloud of illusory nonconformity via Stuttgart’s reputation for superior engineering and design? Or, by chopping of half of its breadwinning sedan’s doors, did Mercedes produce a $90,000 Toyota Solara? To find out, I took this Benz to the streets of Los Angeles—a town whose residents, at a higher rate than anywhere else in the world, feel a nagging greatness lies within them.
The first part of the answer is positive: The Mercedes E400 coupe is beautiful, especially squatting amongst L.A.’s absurd, year-round bird-of-paradise blooms. Not perfect like the W124 300CE of old, but moving—and, in the parlance of the day, "thicc." [Look it up on Urban Dictionary if you dare. —Ed.
—Ed.] With a new platform that elevates its length, interior space, and presence over the old version—the previous two generations used a hacked up C-Class chassis—this is a coupe that transcends its origins. With $3,000 of AMG body kit propping up a mini-S-Coupe-booty in $1,080 of designo cardinal-red paint, the E400 looks every inch the welterweight waft-machine it is. The snub nose lends a boxer’s menace, while swagger arrives thanks to more glitzy trinkets than seems prudent. Walking up to the Benz, the headlights blink and swivel; the bullet grill sparkles, and tiny spotlights illuminate the ground.
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