The pillarless coupe has been one of Mercedes’ traditional signature designs for years, and the C124 coupe, two generations of CLK and now the E-Class coupe convincingly underline the popularity of the elegant two-door, four-seat concept. But it seems that the CLK55 AMG and its cabriolet sibling were a step too far for most Mercedes buyers, as only a small number of these cars were sold, and mainly in the U.S. market.
The high European price structure was certainly an issue, as a high-spec CLK55 AMG came within spitting distance of an entry-level CL500, whose much greater presence and cachet made its smaller brother a car for hard-core enthusiasts only. That small number of enthusiasts will be disappointed this time around; poor CLK55 AMG sales meant that the business case for an E63 AMG coupe never made it off the starting grid. This is a pity really, as the vastly superior C212 E-Class coupe chassis would have made it one fine car.
On the other hand, the lack of an AMG coupe has opened the door to aftermarket tuners to offer their customers a stand-in with the added twist of their unique house styles. Cue the Lorinser E500 coupe.
In standard form, the E500 coupe is not exactly slow. With 388 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque from its 5.5-liter V8, its 0-62 mph time of 5.2 seconds makes it as rapid away from the lights as many ’80s supercars. In addition, the M273 V8 has a hard edge to it, particularly in the SL500, that gives it some of the character of an AMG motor.
On the coupe, the Sport button does more than stiffen the electronic dampers, it also sharpens up the e-gas throttle response and gearshift protocols so the whole car feels more alive. So it is just as well that the Dynamic Handling Package (DHP) with electronic damping and speed sensitive power steering with a quicker 15:1 ratio is standard.
With this as the jumping off point, the Lorinser modifications ramp things up to the next level. Both the Lorinser E500 coupe and sedan I drove had the same ECU modifications that raise power to 422 hp at 5250 rpm and torque to 405 lb-ft of torque between 2800 and 4800 rpm.
Lorinser says that the ECU mapping in both cars was experimental, and slightly different in terms of throttle response and the shape of the power curves. He suggested that I deliver a personal verdict on both at the end of my drive.
Lorinser’s body styling has a very distinct house look that you either like or you don’t. While front spoiler designs vary greatly from model to model, the side air exit ducts behind the front wheel arch are a distinctive design that appears on all the company’s full conversions and involves bolting on new bespoke front quarters.
In the case of the E500 coupe, the original front bumper/spoiler, grille and quarter-panels are replaced to create a much more aggressive face, while deeper side skirts make the visual connection between the new front and rear bumpers.
At the rear, a new deeper valance is added to the factory bumper. This features a mock diffuser with cutouts for the sport exhaust’s distinctive squared-off chrome outlet pipes. The final parts of the body kit are the rear roof spoiler and a subtle trunklid spoiler.
Uprated springs drop the ride height by 30 mm, setting the stage for the larger footwear. These are 8.5x19-inch all around, shod with 235/35R19 tires in front and larger 255/30R19 tires at the rear. Lorinser’s tire partner is Dunlop, and these cars were wearing Sport Maxx GT rubber.
Although it would have been easy to use the same body kit design on both coupe and sedan, Lorinser took the hard option and have produced a very different look for each model.