He Said/She Said: 2010 Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe

She ? I would be lying if I said I didn?t enjoy driving and riding in a luxury car more than a base model economy sedan.? For that reason, the Mercedes-Benz vehicles have always peaked that interest, especially with some of the recent new models.

The last 10 plus years, some of the model designations have left me puzzled about which of the models is ?better? or at least more expensive than the others.? A good example was the C-Class, CLK-Class and CL-Class. Just two years ago, those were the names, respectively, of the entry-level sedan, a compact size coupe and the flagship luxury coupe.? It was just confusing.

Mercedes is working to make it clearer for me.? I doubt that they made the changes specifically for me, but I?m sure others will appreciate the changes, too.

For 2010, the CLK is gone and replaced by an E-Class coupe, which coincidentally is built on the same new platform as the new E-Class sedan.? See the pattern emerging?? Could the CL-Class be next?

He ? The crisp new styling of the E-Class coupe is right on target offering new car shoppers a sportier alternative to the classic sedan.? The car?s mechanicals go hand-in-hand with the edgy looks, offering a dynamic level of handling and performance befitting the image of a coupe.

Under the hood and taunt skin of the E350 we drove is the 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 engine driving the rear wheels through the ultra-smooth seven-speed Mercedes automatic transmission.

This drivetrain rates an EPA estimate of 17 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.? Our actual average during the week of mixed driving was 22.8 mpg.

She ? A few inches shorter in length and wheelbase, the coupe is also 142 pounds lighter than the sedan. ?It also has the distinctive pillarless roofline, which we used to call a hardtop when I was younger.? Designed as a four-passenger and making no pretence of having room for a center rear passenger, the E350 has two bucket seats in the rear with high seatbacks and with a console style area between the seats.? The rear seat backs can be folded 40/60 to expand the already roomy 15.9 cubic feet of cargo space.

A tasteful use of wood accents or aluminum strip on the doors, console, and lower section of the dash keep the styling conservative and very functional.? The all-new Mercedes COMAND system screen is mounted at the top of the center stack with a control knob in the middle of the stack within easy reach of the driver.? The COMAND system gives easy access to audio, video, hands-free calling and the optional navigation system functions.

He — Mercedes went through some quality issues a few years back, but the company has been working very hard to polish its once stellar image, and it appears to be working.? The fit, finish and gaps were right on and the material quality looks and feels rich.? I especially appreciate the solid sound and action of all the moving parts, doors and windows.

The E-Class coupe comes in three flavors, which could be defined as fast, faster, fastest.? The E350 we drove accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.1 seconds, and a top speed limited to 155 mph. ?Powered by a 382-hp, 5.5-liter V-8, the E550 has an estimated 0 to 60 mph time of 5.0 seconds.? Still not available in the U.S., but on its way, the AMG version, the E63, should have 507-hp and a 0 to 60 mph time of about 4.5 seconds.

She ? Needless to say, a luxury car like the E350 has a high level of standard content with features like leather seating, Panorama sunroof, all power and all sorts of comfort and convenience features.? The E350 pricing starts at $48,925 including the destination charge.? Options on our test car included the Tele Aid system which provides emergency communications functions similar to the General Motors OnStar system — $650; a premium package (COMAND with 40GB hard-drive GPS Navigation, real-time traffic data, voice control, 6GB music storage, and premium harman/kardon Logic7 surround sound, HD radio, Sirius, heated front seats, rear view camera and power rear window sunshade) — $3,950; wood/leather steering wheel with paddle shifters and wood/leather shift knob — $750; and Capri blue metallic paint — $720.? The bottom line price is $54,995.

The V-8 powered E550 has a base price of $55,525.

He ? A standard feature on the E350 is the new Agility Control suspension.? It has a small piston connected to a bypass port in the hydraulic flow of each shock absorber. ?On normal roads, it produces a softer, quieter ride.? Then on twisty roads, when more control is need the shock reverts to full damping.? An optional Sport Suspension adds a stiffer damping.? The E550 coupe has an available Dynamic Handling suspension, which included electronically adjustable shocks along with a modified throttle response for even quicker engine response.

She ? The new Mercedes E350 coupe has an amazing menu of safety equipment with features like seven standard airbags, electronic safety aids, brake enhancements and cabin reinforcements.

The selling point for me, however, is the great styling, inside and out, and the comfort.

He ? For my taste the E-Class is the best size Mercedes sedan and now the coupe has certainly caught my attention.? It?s so good looking and such a solid, and fun to drive car, it certainly has to go on my list of favorites.

[Rating:8.5/10]

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