Ever heard of the stapedius reflex? Unless you're an otolaryngologist, probably not. If you were an ear doctor, you'd know that the stapedius reflex (also known as the acoustic reflex) is when the muscles in your ear respond to a high-intensity stimulus by contracting, lessening the detrimental effect of loud noises.
What does this have to do with the redesigned 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe? Well, Mercedes-Benz has heard of the stapedius reflex and it put that knowledge to good use.
Pre-Safe Sound is a standard feature on the 2018 E-Class coupe, and if the vehicle's sensors detect a collision is unavoidable, the Pre-Safe Sound system will emit a high-pitched noise that evokes a stapedius reflex. The idea behind this highly specific bit of safety technology is that the loud noises caused by an accident are less likely to damage your hearing if the Pre-Safe Sound system kicks in first. This level of technology is not only impressive, but it's also indicative of how meticulously the rest of this car was designed and engineered.
What's New This Year
All-new from top to bottom, the redesigned 2018 E-Class coupe is now built on the same platform as the recently redesigned sedan. The new coupe is now longer overall than the previous model, and it rides on a longer wheelbase, which makes it significantly roomier inside. While it only has two doors, it has a real, usable back seat with space for two full-size adults. Even the tallest of rear passengers have a decent amount of headroom.
The new E-Class coupe weighs more than before, and while Mercedes won't say exactly how much, the last generation easily tipped the scales at over 4,000 pounds. So by no stretch of the imagination is this a lightweight sports car. Despite the extra weight, though, what's under the hood has stayed the same. All E400s are powered by a twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine that provides 329 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. It isn't the world's most thrilling powertrain, but it provides plenty of oomph for passing maneuvers and certainly enough thrust for daily use. And while the engine has been carried over, it's hooked up to a new nine-speed automatic transmission that sends power to either the rear or all four wheels.
How It Feels on the Road
Thanks to the new transmission, the 2018 E-Class coupe boasts improved acceleration numbers from the carry-over engine, in both the rear- and all-wheel-drive (4Matic) variants. Shifts from the nine-speed automatic are smooth and quick, with intelligent selection of gears on long grades or steep mountain roads. There are five selectable drive modes — Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual — that adjust the throttle response, shift points and steering weight, so you can change the E-Class' driving character at a moment's notice.
What's more impressive, though, is how well this big coupe goes around corners. With the optional Air Body Control (ABC) suspension, the E-Class coupe is one of the smoothest and most sure-footed cars on the road today. It has exceptional levels of composure and confidence as you round long, sweeping bends and displays a surprising level of stability when you strike a midcorner bump. Even over the most abrasive and uneven surfaces, the ABC suspension makes the E-Class cabin a place of serenity and silence.
The standard selective damping suspension on the E-Class coupe is a bit less capable, especially over broken pavement. It doesn't feel as confident around corners; it also doesn't provide the same S-Class-like ride quality. Sure, it's competent and comfortable enough for most drivers, but given the ABC suspension only costs an extra $1,900, we'd consider it a must-have option.
Luxurious Cabin With All the Extras
Inside, there are all sorts of touches that establish the E-Class coupe's luxury credentials. The optional massaging front seats are nearly flawless, with a wide range of adjustments for drivers and passengers of all sizes. The dashboard comes with good-looking turbine-inspired vents and is available with two massive 12.3-inch screens: one for the gauges and the other for the infotainment system. It's a lovely sight to behold, with three selectable gauge displays in front of the driver and endless options for the center screen. And if you're into customization, you can set the interior ambient lighting to one of 64 available colors.
Another party trick up the E-Class' sleeve is its level of driver assistance systems. The adaptive cruise control system is astonishingly good, with respectably close following distance and none of the oversensitive braking reactions that plague similar systems in other cars. Available active lane keeping assist and lane change assist systems keep you centered in your lane, allowing for plenty of time between required steering-wheel inputs.
A Top Contender in the Class
Like many luxury coupes, the new E-Class starts out at an attainable level but has the potential to push into seriously high-end territory with certain options. Our all-wheel-drive tester started at $61,400 but topped out at $91,135 thanks to a long list of luxury features.
A couple other coupes in the category compete with the E-Class in terms of size, price and performance. The Audi S5 is also all-new for 2018 and includes a wealth of high-tech features and a similar engine. The BMW 6 Series coupe is a step up in price, but it also offers optional V8 power and an ultra high-performance M6 model.
Although both rivals are compelling options, the new E-Class coupe is a beautifully crafted coupe that looks and feels like no other car on the road. Combine that with a surprisingly usable back seat and the latest driver assist systems, and the E400 makes a strong case why it belongs on the shopping list of any luxury coupe shopper.