Mercedes-Benz will set the cat among the pigeons with its new CLK replacement – badged the E-class Coupe and in a showroom near you by June 2009. CAR's artist's impressions reveal that the mid-sized coupe will borrow heavily from the look of the recent Fascination concept car, the star of Merc's stand at the Paris motor show.
The E-class Coupe will be shown formally at the Geneva motor show in spring 2009, with UK sales starting soon after. The coupe market has fragmented in recent years, but the new E is aimed squarely at the Audi A5 and rumoured future coupe version of the Jaguar XF.
It's too early to predict prices, but by rebadging the CLK as an E-class we expect the showroom numbers will creep upwards. We'd predict a starting price hovering around £32,000 in today's money.
Mercedes-Benz E-class Coupe: the lowdown
CAR has followed the E-class Coupe's development closely over the past few years, with numerous next-gen CLK scoops. The project is codenamed C206 (coupe) and A206 (the convertible, due six months after the tin-top) and the engineering boffins have dipped into the parts matrix of both the latest C-class and the new 2009 E-class saloon.
That spells a classic Merc package: rear-wheel drive, a pedigree choice of four-, six- and eight-cylinder engines and the very latest in technical goodies from Stuttgart's Q department. Not too many, mind you – Mercedes is throttling back on some of the innovations that made current E-class owners a tad too familiar with their local dealers.
Click 'Next' to read more of our scoop on the new 2009 Mercedes E-class Coupe
Merc E-class Coupe: how it measures up
New design director Gordon Wagener is gently evolving Mercedes' design language and nowhere is this more apparent than the front end of the E-class Coupe. A simple grille has the Merc star sitting slap bang in the middle of the firmament – flanked by a pair of more upright, rectangular lights on each side. It's yet another step down the path away from the classic twin oval lamps that have distinguished Merc snouts in the earlier part of the decade.
But the form language will be different, too. The wheelarches are heavily styled, especially at the rear where a blister rising from the rubbing strip accentuates the rear haunches.
The E-class Coupe has been designed to be easy to jump in and out of, with long doors, gizmos to offer seatbelts and seats that slide and tilt – hey presto! – out of the way. We've not yet tested the access in person, however, so we'll have to wait another six months to find out if it works in practice.
The engine room
The E-class isn't a range that's short on choice for motor fetishists – and this extensive range will be repeated on the new E Coupe. Every engine will be available with the company's mellifluous seven-speed auto 'box and all petrol engines will feature direct injection.
Here are the highlights of the engine line-up we're expecting (not all available at launch):
• E200k, 184bhp
• E280, 231bhp
• E350, 300bhp
• E450, 354bhp
• E550, 428bhp
• E63 AMG, 481bhp (with future Black Series tipped for 525bhp)
• E250 CDI, 201bhp
• E320 CDI, 252bhp
Hybrid modules will be available within 24 months.
Click 'Next' for the final instalment of CAR's E-class Coupe scoop
Mercedes E-class Coupe: the gadgets and gizmos
When it comes to technology, the new E-class range is much less about being first and much more about doing it right. Not that it will skimp on new tech: hard-drive sat-nav, headlamps that dip automatically, infra-red night vision and – for the convertible – a heated fabric roof system to keep occupants toasty throughout winter will all be available.
However, word is that the E-class Coupe will eschew the electronic brake-by-wire system that caused so many problems with the current E. Nor will there be air suspension and active body control.
In many respects, the new E-class Coupe is all about back to basics. And who'd argue with that?
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