>> Brian: Mercedes new E Coupe, all new, taking back territory from the former CLK line of coupes and a weird confusing time in the Mercedes lineup. Anyway, the new car's a looker but let's check the tech and see if it's really all that fresh.
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>> Brian: Now, the first thing you notice when you get inside this new E 550 Coupe is how sore your ass is because these are the hardest seats in autodome. I mean, what the hell's in there a board? That hurts! So, I made my drive fairly short but while I was going the 2 or 3 blocks I could stand before the tears were running down my face I noticed we have a very familiar and very high-quality Mercedes head unit and display. Now, even if you don't get this car with navigation you will have a 7 inch Command system LCD. Without nav it just operates Automotive systems. With nav as we have, of course, you've got the map, live traffic, you see the bird's eye view, some pretty good degree of 3D landmarks and buildings but no where near as full as say the most recent Audi MMI, which has just about everything in 3D, but I'm not sure how useful that is it's just kind of cool. You get around by this controller here which is sort of like iDrive but because the menus are different it's a whole lot better than the early iDrive. It's not a touch-screen so you've got to get used to this controller or use the voice command system. Of course, Bluetooth hands-free is standard on a car in this price class but interestingly enough Bluetooth's streaming stereo audio like off my BlackBerry is not. Also standard 6 disk CD/DVD changer. We can pop in the Jag, for example, and, of course, you can only watch movies when the car's parked and you're still -- you can't do that while you're driving, obviously. In addition to our 6 disk slot right there we've also got the confounding PCMCIA or PC Card slot right here. Radio choices include AM/FM, standard Sirius Satellite Radio but no HD radio in this guy. We also have because of the options on this vehicle a multimedia interface here. We've got our iPhone connected and we can go see that it does work rather well. Our iPhone shows up really well, does a great job of displaying album, track information, even a little iPod and little Apple logo right there; this is a very good iPod/iPhone interface. Now the piece de resistance on this thing is, of course, the music register, which normal people call hard drive. We have 6GB of hard drive space on this vehicle that you can fill up with your own music. And you're gonna fill that guy up from something in your optical disk drive not from anything attached to USB, although you can do a USB pigtail to that music interface from the glove box. Now all this goodness is part of the optional Premium Package which brings us the nav, the more advanced audio system, the hard drive. If you go bare bones on this car you're gonna get a pretty standard, although perfectly good sounding, 8 speaker, AM/FM, 6 disk audio system. Now in terms of backing this guy up, which is a bit of a chore, it's pretty tight looking out the back. You do have a backup camera as part of a Basic Premium Package, optional not standard. On top of that you've got to go to yet another Premium Package, a Distronic Package if you want to get the parking guidance technology that we've seen and liked on some other more high-end Mercedes, so you got to really package this guy up to get all the rearview technologies. I think that's kind of a weird way to parse it.
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>> Brian: The E Coupe and the E Sedan are supposedly peas in a pod but if you get a look at them they're really quite different in style though in subtle ways. Side by side the Coupe's a real success. The Sedan is, perhaps, merely handsome. We have an E 550, which means power comes out of a 5 1/2 liter gas V8 coupled to a 7 speed automatic with paddles, no other choices. There are no turbos or other tricks to deliver a 382 horsepower and 391 foot pounds of torque. A nice dose for a car this size. But it's not a sports model it's more of a muscular guy in a suit. Look for an AMG version somewhere down the road. Hit the Sport button to recurve the power train into tighter responsiveness, but I actually found it twitchy, which is never good. And the M button by the gearbox simply drops the transmission into full manual mode where it responds only to your shifts other than to downshift by itself if you're lugging the engine badly. And by the way, all E Coupes have that rather ginormous dual pane glass roof. Okay, let's price our E 550 Coupe, which cleverly enough bases at $55,000 but you got to add $4,000 more for Premium Package One if you're gonna do it up CNET style, that's gonna bring you the hard drive base nav system, the hard drive audio ability, Sirius HD radio, rearview camera, some other niceties. You might spend $2,600 more on top of that for the Distronic Package, which is the radar cruise control with the presafe automated braking and the Parktronic with the parking guidance system, which on this car actually works pretty well.
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