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.
The front spoiler on the white E500 sedan has a distinctive look of its own, using softer, more rounded edges and a contrasting black-painted center section that visually breaks up the mass of the front spoiler and ties it in with the theme of the black-painted Lorinser grille. Aluminum mesh in the air intake openings below the front bumper protects the radiator from flying stones. The horizontal bar of LED running lights is more like those on the E63 AMG, and looks a whole lot better than the token L-shaped unit normally seen on the E-Class sedans.
As with the coupe, the front quarters are replaced with new ones bearing Lorinser’s air outlet ducts. The side skirts are less contoured than the coupe’s and lead to the new rear bumper unit, which has a much deeper center cutout finished in black. This has the effect of making the rear of the car appear far less bulky than if it was color-coded to the bodywork.
Where the roof spoiler on the coupe is color-coded silver and breaks up the lines of the blacked-out roof glass, Lorinser chose to paint the rooftop spoiler of the sedan black to blend in with the roof glass. The trunklid spoiler is also painted gloss black.
While Lorinser offers interior refinements like steering wheels, alloy pedals and bespoke re-trims, these first cars were only equipped with alloy door sill plates bearing the company logo in blue.
The roads around Lorinser’s impressive Mercedes-Benz dealership in Waiblingen take you straight to the autobahn or into the countryside, so a proper test drive is never a problem. I personally prefer the countryside route as the undulating roads tell you far more about a car’s overall behavior in real-world situations.
I took the coupe out first, and initial impressions were that the wider rubber and lowered suspension achieve a good balance between ride and handling. The chassis is tauter, but the suspension still breathes easily, the car flowing down the road nicely with better body control overall. This is particularly noticeable when you encounter bumps in corners; the car recovers more convincingly.
The sedan has Airmatic suspension standard, so Lorinser add their lowering module to drop the static ride height. The ride quality is inherently suppler than the coupe’s, but that is what you want in a sedan anyway.
The extra power and torque aren’t a huge power boost in the overall scheme of things, but considering that they are achieved with just ECU remapping, the numbers are impressive.
Normally aspirated engines do not normally respond that well to ECU remapping, and you will be lucky to see a 5-7hp increase through optimizing just the fuel and ignition curves. However, the secret with getting more power and torque from the M272 and M273 engine families lies with the variable valve timing, and most of the gains are made with tweaks there.
Driving the two cars back-to-back was enlightening. While the claimed 0-62 time tumbles to 4.4 seconds with a delimited top speed of 180 mph, the difference in feel of everyday driving is of more relevance.
Both are a tad sharper than standard, with better step-off and response thanks to the e-gas throttle being dialed up. However, it was clear that the map in the sedan produced slightly better low-end range response, and I suspect that the ignition curve has more advance, running closer to the knock sensor threshold.
This shows that it’s possible to achieve a noticeably different feel just by altering the e-gas throttle response as well as the ignition advance and variable valve timing, even when the two engines show the same power and torque on the dyno.
Lorinser will have to decide which of these maps will be the production issue, with the following proviso. While you can run the ignition closer to the knock sensor in Europe where good-quality, high-octane fuel is readily available and ambient temperatures are not excessive, in hot countries with lower-grade fuel, the other map would be appropriate. As with most things in life, it is horses for courses.
Lorinser E500 Coupe/Sedan
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
5.5-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve. Lorinser sport exhaust, ECU remap
Sport springs (coupe)
Airmatic lowering module (sedan)
Wheels and Tires
Lorinser alloys, 8.5x19
Dunlop Sport Maxx GT, 235/35 (f), 255/30 (r)
Lorinser front spoiler, side skirts, rear valance, roof and trunklid spoiler, custom front quarter-panels
Peak Power: 422 hp @ 5250 rpm
Peak Torque: 405 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm