I have driven modern muscle cars and I have driven modern luxury cars, but now I have driven a luxury muscle car. The all-new 2010 Mercedes-Benz E550 Coupe blends a top-tier upscale interior and an aggressive-styled exterior with a bi-polar 5.5L 32-valve aluminum V8 engine. It was a fitting chariot for my two-year marriage anniversary, so my wife and I took the car to Palm Springs for the weekend. Unbeknownst to us, it was also Biker Weekend in this California Oasis.
I mentioned the luxury part of the muscle-luxury equation, and this car has it in spades. The E550 coupe comes standard with dual-zone climate control, which should be standard equipment on any vehicle where you want a marriage to last. I like the car to feel like the Arctic tundra inside while my wife prefers a temperature closer to an area north of the Tropic of Capricorn. She got comfortable with her heated seat and I was happy with my 14-way power-adjustable seat which miraculously, is a cross between a Eurita Strandkorb Duke Comfort Model Beach Lounge chair (Google it) and a Recaro racing seat. All those adjustments allowed me to find the perfect blend between comfortable and solid lateral support. I speak only of the front seats however because the rear seats seem only to serve objects instead of people. I placed my backpack and camera gear there but I would not want to ride in this car from there.
Getting back to enjoying the inside of the car , this E550 was fitted with the optional premium package which includes an upgraded harman/kardon surround sound audio system, satellite radio, and an connection for my iPod, amongst other items. Along our journey to Palm Springs, besides the comfort we were treated to aural excellent – be it from a musical selection for her, or the random times when I was passing someone on the highway and I was treated to the deep exhaust note coming from the rear of the car.
That exhaust note is a result of the available 382 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque coming from the aforementioned 5.5L V8 engine. That 391 lb-ft of torque by the way… is available from 2,800 rpm up through 4,800 rpm. The power band is wide and ready to blast forward from a stop light or make a highway passing move with ease. All that power is controlled smoothly from a seven-speed automatic transmission. The transmission can be switched between Comfort, Sport, and a manual mode controlled by either steering wheel mounted paddle shifters or the via the traditional gear selector. The transmission reacts appropriately in the available modes, offering a clear distinction between Comfort and Sport.
This E-Class is fitted with a dynamic handling suspension system that continuously adjusts the level of damping. Put more simply, for my own benefit, the car is stiff when I want it to be stiff and a luxurious boat when I am devouring the highway in front of me. I roamed effortlessly past the random packs of motorcyclists on our way to the weekend’s destination. The roars of the roving Harley V-Twins gave way to the German growl of my Teutonic muscle.
This new E-Class coupe takes the style of the sedan and tightens it up. The nose looks more aggressive and the rear haunches seem more pronounced. The deep rakes in the door give the E550 Coupe that clichéd “looks fast standing still” style… but this car looks fast standing still. The lack of a B-Pillar really rounds out the overall style and the car looks excellent from all angles. The only two areas I really had any issue, albeit very tiny and correctable ones, are with the lower chrome trim piece that runs right through the door and the very vanilla five-spoke wheels. The trim should be removed or at least color matched to the rest of the body and the wheels can be easily changed. See… I told you they were tiny nit-picks.
This car easily stood out on the streets of Palm Springs, a town that is typically filled with high-end vehicles rolling from brunch, to pool party, to the crowded main street at night. When we went to dinner, the valet left the car front and center – which is a mark of honor in the luxury car segment. The real test of the style however revolved around the groups of bikers ripping through the town. The may love their two-wheeled freedom machines, but even the most hardcore amongst them stopped to admire my machine (for the week, at least). There was many an appreciate nod or thumbs up, which quickly turned into a huge grin or laugh when I put the throttle down.
Overall, I think Mercedes-Benz has done a wonderful job with the 2010 E550 Coupe. The interior is luxurious, well-equipped, and comfortable. The exterior has strong lines that flow from one corner of the car to the next. Most importantly to me however, is that glorious V8 engine under the hood and the noise it produces. I am not joking when I say that Mercedes is building luxury muscle cars. Take a look at their lineup, or better yet just listen the next time a brand-new Benz rolls by you. The E63 sedan will melt your ear drums and your heart at the same time.
The price of this beast is high as you would expect – but maybe not quite as high… The base price for the E550 Coupe is $54,650 and the one pictured here has a few options which drive the price to $62,945. That is a lot of money, but it is hard to find another car that does power and prestige so well at the same time. If that price tag is a little too steep you can opt for the E350 Coupe which starts at a hair over $48,000 and is powered by a 268 hp 3.5L V6 engine.