(This story has been updated with additional technical details and photos.)
In the current automotive market – even before the coronavirus struck – it was becoming ever easier to ignore sedans, coupes and convertibles and focus on SUVs and CUVs. That might be true on the whole, but for some brands, passenger cars still represent a significant source of demand. Nowhere is that more the case than with Mercedes-Benz where the E-Class family still generates a significant share of demand.
We got our first look at the next-generation E-Class nearly three months ago. Make that a “virtual” look, as the original debut scheduled for the Geneva International Motor Show had to be scrubbed due to the pandemic, the German automaker falling back on an online unveiling. The automaker took the same route this week with the digital launch of the new E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet models.
(Mercedes rolls out major E-Class update for new sedan.)
As with the new E-Class sedan, all versions, all the way up to the E 53 AMG models, undergo exterior revisions – though the basic look and dimensions stray only modestly from outgoing coupe and cabriolet lines.
A walk around will reveal a new A-shape to the diamond radiator grille that is standard across all versions of the coupe and cabriolet. You’ll be able to spot the AMG 53 because the dots in the grille get chrome plating. Twin power domes on the hood make all versions of the midsize mainstay look like they should be badged AMG.
The two-piece taillights, rear deck lid and bumper add a more cohesive look to the back end, with Mercedes also introducing new colors and wheel designs. LED headlamps are now standard on all models, with Multibeam lamps optional in markets where they are legal.
As for the soft top on the 2021 Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet, it can be raised or lowered with the touch of a single button in just 20 seconds.
Inside, the upper half of the instrument panel has been redesigned to make it look almost look it is floating. As with the sedan, both coupe and cabrio adopt a newly redesigned steering wheel with smartphone-like capacitive touch sensors to control the infotainment system and other vehicle functions. The twin 12.3-inch digital gauge and infotainment LCD displays are now standard across the line-up, as well.
New colors and new materials are being added, such as the open-pore gray ashwood accent trim.
As with the sedan, the 2021 E-Class coupe and cabriolet models are loaded with plenty of high-tech touches, including the latest-generation Mercedes infotainment system, the voice-control system of the MBUX operating in similar fashion to Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Home system.
(Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 is the everyday car you can take to the track.)
The semi-autonomous drive system, meanwhile, also allows for limited hands-free operation. But where the outgoing models required a driver to occasionally provide a little steering input, the new E-Class uses capacitive touch sensors on the steering wheel to know that the driver is ready to take over immediately, if needed.
The U.S. versions will be offered in the U.S. with relatively limited powertrain options, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E 450 motivated by a 3.0-liter turbo V-6 making 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque sent through a nine-speed automatic to the rear wheels. The E 450 4Matic delivers power to all four wheels.
In some parts of the world, the new E-Class family will continue to be offered with a diesel option. While that’s no longer the case in North America, the U.S. version of the E-Class highlights the automaker’s expanding push into electrification. The E 450 drivetrain is paired with a 48-volt EQ Boost motor drive system that kicks in an extra 21 kilowatts of power during hard acceleration, essentially an instant-on electric supercharger.
Mercedes is not yet ready to talk performance or fuel economy numbers. Along with pricing, they’ll be announced later this year. U.S. dealers will begin deliveries in late 2020.
The Mercedes-AMG E 53 Coupe and Cabriolet get a twin-turbo 3.0-liter engine which also gets a version of the new EQ Boost system. It’s a slightly more powerful take on the 48-volt motor drive that can kick in an extra 21 hp and 184 lb-ft when needed. Total system power is 384 horsepower. A nine-speed performance automatic sends power to all four wheels. The AMG coupe is rated 0-60 in 4.3 seconds, the convertible in 4.5 seconds. Both have electronically limited top speeds of 155 mph.
Visually, the AMG models get some more notable updated for 2021, starting with an all-new, 12-slat radiator grille. From the back, there are twin tailpipes available in either silver chrome or high-gloss black. There are new aero-design 19-inch wheels and the performance models can now be ordered with a distinctive AMG Night Package with extensive use of high-gloss black on mirrors and exterior trim.
Inside, the AMG cabriolet and coupe also get unique seats with greater levels of lateral support and special display features including the new “Supersport” mode.
They also get a special version of the new, capacitive touch steering wheel that allows a motorist to easily switch between driving modes. These instantly adjust key vehicle functions, such as suspension damping, throttle and transmission response. For the first time, the E-Class is available with the optional AMG Dynamic Plus package which, among other things, adds Race Mode and features such as Drift Mode.
(First Drive: 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250.)
U.S. dealers will begin deliveries of the new 2021 Mercedes-Benz Coupe and Cabriolet models in late 2020.