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The Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Coupe is a luxury sports coupe with a twin turbocharged engine.
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The doors in the E400 are works of art.


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At a certain level of automotive luxury, creature comforts transcend mere amenities and become conversation starters.

I would put the heated armrests in this week's Mercedes-Benz E400 Coupe tester in that department. For a minute, when these bad boys heated up, I thought the coupe was about to spontaneously combust.

My next thought was: "Where the heck am I going to get $83,356?"

In reality, though, the warmth was coming from the depths of the armrest, part of an $800 "warmth and comfort package." During a week in the factory-provided Emerald Green E400 coupe, we also discovered its massaging front seats and a cabin fragrance system.

Those options may spark conversations at the country club, but the real prowess of the M-B E400 Coupe is found in its silky powertrain, other-worldly handling and interior styling worthy of display at a museum of contemporary design.

Fast Facts

-Model: 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Coupe

-Exterior color: Emerald Green Metallic

-Interior color: Saddle leather

-Engine: 3.0-liter, V-6 twin-turbo

-Horsepower: 329

-Transmission: nine-speed automatic

-Fuel economy: 26 mpg highway, 20 mpg city

-Local Dealer: Mercedes-Benz at Long of Chattanooga

-Price (as tested): $83,635

Bottom line: You'd be the talk of the town driving this baby down Frazier Avenue on a Saturday night.

Mercedes-Benz at Long of Chattanooga (6035 International Drive) lists several E-Class vehicles in its digital inventory this week. The market for luxury coupes is small, but the E400 competes alongside the Audi A5, Lexus RC350, BMW 440i and Cadillac ATS.

The MB E400 4Matic Coupe is a five-passenger, all-wheel-drive luxury coupe that features a twin turbo-charged V-6 engine that makes 329 horsepower and scoots from zero to 60 mph in about 5.5 seconds.

STYLING AND COMFORT

All last week, people who encountered our M-B tester took stabs at describing its color. In low light it looked black; at dusk it looked blue; but anywhere direct sunlight hit the sheet metal, it was unmistakably emerald green. It's one of the features that make the E400 so charming.

The almost-hidden green sheen is actually a perfect hue for this coupe, which strives to break away from the more common luxury-car colors: silver, black, white and (occasionally) red. Coupe buyers are, by definition, mold breakers: a sub-set of a sub-set.

The body lines of the E400 are classically sporty with a long, sculpted hood contrasted by a blunt and rounded rear-end. Notably absent on the E400 is a B pillar, the architectural support column that normally separates the front-seat and back-seat windows on a vehicle. The result is a visually unbroken expanse of side-panel glass that gives the car a cool presence — although we did notice a little air noise coming from the windows at highway speeds.

All in all, though, the cabin is a quiet and relaxing place to be. With rich, saddle-colored leather seats and heat-and-air vents that look like turbines on a 747 jet, the E400 has an upscale vibe that supports its sticker price. Our favorite design element, though, is the natural grain light-elm wood panels integrated into the dash and doors. High-gloss wood trim is, after all, so 20th century.

There are elements of art deco in the circular designs and materials choices inside the E400. If I ever win $100 million in the lottery, I want a house with a TV room that looks exactly like the inside of this car. The inside door panels are a work of art — a blend of leather, aluminum and elm surfaces. They manage to simultaneously look modern and timelessly classic.

When you hit this echelon of luxury, you expect options to add precipitously to the bottom line. Our tester, for example, has a base price of $61,400, but an MSRP of $83,635. Do the math, and you'll see that's more than $22,000 in upgrades.

Some of the line-items on the options list include the metallic paint ($720), elm wood (a bargain at $150), five-spoke wheels ($500), rear-seat air bags ($420), massaging front seats ($950) and seat heating/ventilation ($450). By far, the two most pricey upgrades are a 23-speaker Burmester 3-D sound system ($5,400) and the Premium 3 package ($9,350) which includes the fragrance system and a raft of safety-tech features.

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

The two adjectives we'd use to best describe the E400 Coupe are solid and smooth. Grip the steering wheel and you immediately get the feeling the M-B coupe can take you anywhere you want to go safely and comfortably.

My two sons and I took the coupe to a mid-state soccer game. On the way home in the E400, the cabin was so quiet they both slept through a violent thunderstorm. Meanwhile, I enjoyed the seat heaters for my aching back and even took the scenic route home through the Sequatchie Valley so I could carve up some twisting roads.

The twin-turbocharged V-6 has a husky exhaust note and the nine-speed automatic transmission goes about its work unobtrusively. The government says the E400 Coupe in all-wheel-drive configuration will get 26 miles per gallon highway and 20 miles per gallon city.

BOTTOM LINE

If coupe styling and Mercedes-Benz refinement are your bag, the E400 4Matic Coupe is an enticing blend of good looks and high performance.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOL UMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/ mkennedycolumnist.

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