[Click here for R&T article.]
Keep in mind my inherent bias toward Mercedes-Benz as a current owner.
As much as I want to detest the side and rear design of this vehicle as a knock-off of other designs currently on the market, we need to face facts: Car design ain't what it used to be. A good design comes out - usually from a German company, ironically enough in this case - and every company emulates pieces of it in their next vehicle's redesign. Some rip-offs, like the prior-gen Hyundai Sonata tail lamps vs. the 2003-2005 Honda Accord, are obvious. In this case, Mercedes used some obvious design cues from Honda and BMW, but I still feel they did a decent job giving this car its own character. Only when we see the final E-class sedan model will we be able to tell if this was born more from the new E-class design sessions or a "slight imitation" of the design cues from other cars.
This is an intriguing car, however. I'm sure Mercedes-Benz will be getting rid of the CLK, since that was always an E-class coupe anyway; this is simply a rebadge, taking the opportunity of a full model change to rebadge the vehicle.
What I like about this: Four seats instead of five. Why build a coupe - even the new four-door "coupes" like the Mercedes-Benz CL-class and Volkswagen CC - for five adults? Who is ever going to want to sit in the middle? Having four seats gives the two rear passengers a bucket seat each, which is a nice treat for once you climb back there and realize you're stuck for a while. A heated seat would be nice, and I'm sure that will be available on the new model - maybe even a cooled seat with some packages.
I also like the side view of this vehicle, and the new pillar-less design of this coupe. This isn't particularly new but it opens up the car to a retractable hard top and other niceties that I'm sure we'll find out about during the model year.
The cockpit looks flush and classy, typical of Mercedes vehicles. This shouldn't be an issue given its price point.
What I don't like about this: The borrowing of design cues, mostly. Otherwise, I haven't seen one of these up close nor sat in one, so it's difficult to tell what I don't like.
I'm sure it will drive like a Benz - not nearly as "in tune" with the road as a BMW, but beautiful steering and handling, and a bit of separation from the road compared to some of its contemporaries. Oh, and powerful of course. VERY powerful.