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2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Coupe is a sporty, luxury car

It is as lovely as it is quick, a refined and elegant automobile that looks even more expensive than the $61,400 base price tag on the all-wheel-drive model I tested.

The 2018 Mercedes E400.
The 2018 Mercedes E400.Read moreMercedes

Behold the redesigned 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 Coupe.

It is as lovely as it is quick, a refined and elegant automobile that looks even more expensive than the $61,400 base price tag on the all-wheel-drive model I tested.

Notice, too, the lack of edginess in its styling. Its flanks are as smooth as a baby's bottom. Body creases, once so ubiquitous, are now in the industry's rearview mirror, according to the E400's designers.

In the case of the test car, the E400 coupe's tuxedo elegance came with an optional sporty vest that included more aggressive front and rear fascias, stylish 19-inch wheels and high-performance rubber, and a lowered suspension.

While its body exudes civility, there is also a distinctive touch of cool that evokes the hardtops of my youth: the lack of pillars between the front and rear side windows. Mercedes is the only luxury builder that does this with its coupes. It's a neat touch, and improves visibility.

As it turns out, the coupe's beauty isn't skin deep. Its interior is among the loveliest and most imaginative I've seen. Real knock-your-socks-off stuff.

The test car cabin's most arresting feature was the dash treatment. The instruments and infotainment display were contained in a single screen about a yard wide and eight inches high. The dash, black with brown saddle stitching, included an overhang that shaded the control screen. The dash's midsection was glossy black with silver striations that evoked — are you ready for this — a guitar. This striated black band contained four circular controls for the air-conditioning vents that reminded me of alloy wheels.

The perforated leather buckets proved as lovely as they were comfortable and supportive. But once you got past the front seats, you start running into the problems related, in part, to the fact this midsize coupe is shorter and more stylish than its sister sedan. The backseat does afford adequate leg room for folks over six feet, but the rapid drop in the roof line left me butting heads with the headliner.

Trunk size is not a strong suit, either. I had to struggle to get an upright vacuum cleaner in there on the diagonal. (Of course, if you can afford the $81,785 total list price on this guy, you probably don't have to take a vacuum to the repair shop.)

Predictably enough, the coupe is a well-equipped luxury car in base form. But if you really want to pamper yourself, you'll kick in the extra $22,380 and get one equipped like the tester. In addition to a ton of electronic safety and parking assists, and such exotica as heated armrests and a cabin fragrance system, the tester's options litany included a $5,400 audio system that does everything but ask Mozart's ghost to play the piano at your dinner parties.

This new coupe, we might add, is not the E400 sedan body with two doors instead of four. The two cars share no body panels. And the coupe does not share its lone engine, a 3-liter biturbo V-6 that develops 329 horsepower and a hefty 354 pound/feet of torque.

While this luxury coupe is not a sports car, it sure conducts itself in a sporty manner, especially when you get on it. In partnership with a smooth and quick-shifting nine-speed automatic, zero to 60 is accomplished in a very brisk 5.2 seconds.

Handling is also a plus. The car exhibits little body roll in ambitious cornering calisthenics, the steering is responsive, and braking is solid.

The car manages to be athletic without beating you up. It affords a ride as comfortable as it is quiet.

2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Coupe

Base price: $61,400.
As tested: $84,785.
Standard equipment: 3-liter biturbo V-6, nine-speed automatic, all-wheel-drive, and all the usual safety gear and hedonism found in luxomobiles.
Options: A garage full of electronic driving aids and hedonism I never heard  of — like heated armrests.
Fuel economy: 20 mpg city, 26 highway.
Engine performance: Gloriously gutsy.
Handling: Quite competent.
Ride comfort: Good.
Styling: Beguiling.
Warranty: Four years/50,000 miles bumper to bumper.
Four Bens: Excellent