Mercedes-Benz has made an excellent addition to the luxury coupe market with the introduction of the C-Class coupe
When it comes to luxury coupes, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class isn’t exactly a name that comes to mind. That’s because the German company has never made an actual coupe carrying the C-Class name, until now.
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe is the successor to the popular CLC, but is a different car altogether. It's a more premium choice with a different look and feel, hence attracting a new audience.
From the outside it’s relatively easy to tell a C-Class coupe from a sedan. It has two less doors for a start but also sports a unique silhouette.
The coupe’s front doors have gained an additional 30cm yet the overall vehicle height is down by 41mm compared to the sedan. Pretty much everything forward from the windscreen is identical to the sedan but the side profile and rear have been restyled for the coupe application.
Much like the recently updated C-Class sedan, Mercedes-Benz has applied aggressive front end styling with LED daytime running lamps, V-shape bonnet and a prominent radiator grille.
From the back the Germans have added a sports diffuser, chrome highlights around the boot and tailgate handle plus an LED licence plate lamp.
It’s hard to fault the C-Class coupe for its looks; in true Mercedes fashion it remains elegant, yet masculine enough to warrant respect. That’s a hard balance to achieve.
Mercedes-Benz Australia is launching the C-Class coupe range with a C180, C250 petrol and diesel plus a C350. The much-anticipated C63 AMG Coupe is destined for arrival in October. All variants will be driven through the rear wheels with power transmitted via a seven-speed automatic transmission. Only the C 250 diesel will gain start-stop technology, petrol variants may gain the feature in the near future.
In the hope of attracting previous CLC buyers and potentially taking sales away from its closest rival, the base model C 180 automatic starts at just $58,900, which is a good $7600 cheaper than entry model into the BMW 3 Series coupe range (320d coupe manual) and about $10,000 cheaper than the entry model Audi A5 Coupe (2.0 TFSI).
The C 180 is powered by a 1.8-litre four-cylinder direct-injection turbo that delivers 115kW and 250Nm of torque. Pulling the 1520kg coupe from 0-100km/h takes 8.9 seconds and in the combined city/highway cycle it sips 7.3L of fuel per 100km. We found the C 180 to be very adequate for an entry model and capable of highway overtakes with enough juice to keep the excitement going when the time comes.
If you can spare another $11,000, the pick of the bunch is the C 250 petrol or diesel (same price). The C 250 petrol uses the same engine as the C 180 but with a different tune, which brings power up to 150kW and delivers 310Nm of torque. Acceleration is significantly improved, down to 7.2 seconds, which means it drives smoother and gets up to speed with ease. Despite having more power and torque, it uses less fuel (7L per 100km) than the C 180. Given the diesel and petrol C 250s are the same price, it’s a hard choice to pick between the two for a coupe. If it was a sedan, I’d have no hesitation in recommending the diesel but coupes are a little different.
Using a 2.1-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel engine, the C 250 CDI has 150kW and a massive 500Nm of torque. Despite being 110kg heavier than the petrol, it’s still 0.1 of a second quicker to 100km/h, yet, and here’s the clincher, it consumes just 5.1L of diesel per 100km. You’re probably wondering, why would you buy the petrol?
Many reasons. The diesel can be loud at times and although it has significantly more torque, the weight difference means it’s not noticeably quicker than the petrol and has a slight handling disadvantage. In saying that, my advice would still be to pick the diesel as you’re actually getting a more advanced engine for your money, which will not cost a cent more than the petrol but will save you heaps in fuel bills over its life. It may potentially have better resale in the future as well. If you can handle the diesel sound under the bonnet, you really can’t go wrong with the CDI.
If you just can’t fathom the thought of a four-cylinder engine powering your beloved C-Class coupe and don’t have the patience or funds to wait for the C 63 AMG Coupe, Mercedes-Benz offers a C 350, which is powered by a 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 petrol. Power is a respectable 225kW and you’ll get a healthy 370Nm of torque out of it as well. That changes the coupe’s entire dynamics, with 0-100km/h times down to proper sports car levels of six seconds flat. It still weighs 45kg less than the diesel but consumes a reasonable 8.3L per 100km.
To launch the new C-Class Coupe, Mercedes-Benz brought the motoring press to Melbourne where we embarked on an epic 400km+ drive from Tullamarine Airport out through a series of twisty mountain roads leading up to the Great Ocean Road and on to Torquay.
The road test began in a black C 250 petrol with dark red seats and interior highlights. It’s not often a car’s interior draws a reaction from me, but first impressions were more than positive. The Mercedes Coupe provides a rather welcoming cabin with comfortable seats big enough to fit most yet snug enough to keep you planted around corners.
Even though the BMW 3 Series coupes provide a better overall steering feel and driving dynamics (although not by much), it’s often hard to overlook the relatively plain-looking interior. Where I think the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe outshines its closest rival is on the inside.
The first thing you’ll notice once you sit inside is the overall cabin ambience, which is a richer experience than the 3 Series coupe. It’s not that the BMW is inferior in quality, it’s more that the overall design and well-positioned instruments create a more pleasant place to be.
The base model C 180 comes standard with a 5.8-inch full-colour TFT screen with a comprehensive audio system (including full Bluetooth support). On the C 250 and above, that gets upgraded to a 7-inch TFT full colour screen with the Mercedes-Benz COMAND system, which is a treat. It can do everything from sat-nav, storing your music on its in-built hard drive, streaming your telephone and audio via Bluetooth and even in-car internet connectivity.
COMAND is not as intuitive to use as BMW’s iDrive and does have the issue of not supporting internet-tethering with Apple’s iPhone (a problem we are told is on Apple’s side not supporting dial-up networking protocols), but overall it’s pretty useful and can allow for some really nifty features. If you want a really comprehensive look at COMAND, have a read of our Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan review.
Mercedes-Benz claims the C-Class Coupe is a proper four-seater, but I found the rear seats are best left for short trips if you’re going to have tall adults in the back. Given it’s based on a C-Class sedan, there is plenty of legroom in the Coupe, but the rear seats do lack that extra headroom for tall passengers. In saying that, it’s good enough for quick journeys, which is what the C-Class Coupe is likely to spend its life doing.
The seven-speed automatic transmission extracts the most out of the 1.8-litre engine in the C 250, with smooth and instantaneous shifts. Acceleration is effortless but the engine/driveline does project a bit of a mechanical whine when pushed.
Around the twisty roads leaving Melbourne, the C 250 coupe test car proved that Mercedes-Benz is very serious about taking on its German rivals in all respects. As mentioned earlier, I personally find the BMW 3 Series coupe to provide slightly better steering feedback/feel and overall dynamics, but the ride and compliance of the C-Class is far more attuned to the real world conditions experienced in Australia.
It’s fair to say the 3 Series coupe is better suited to your needs if you consistently find yourself driving enthusiastically, while the C-Class Coupe is a better overall package for a day-to-day comfortable sports coupe. Of course, the beauty of the Merc is that it can change its character the minute you press the 'Sports' button. Steering feel is tightened, the suspension gets harder and throttle response is improved substantially. It provides more than enough grip around extremely tight corners, with ESP helping out when needed. There was a sense of over-assistance from the nanny control if pushed close to its limits.
If you must have the best, straight away, then the C 350 coupe is hard to look past. Not only does the new V6 emit a glorious sound but also the power increase from the C 250 is very noticeable. In fact, it breathes a whole new character into the C-Class Coupe. Through corners and when pushed to its limits, the C 350 coupe behaves like a well-refined sports coupe. It has plenty of power to really push hard out of corners yet the ride quality remains top notch and without compromise. It’s not as sporty or fast as a BMW 335i M Sport Coupe (which weighs 75kg less and has an extra 30Nm of torque) but then again, it’s a good $17,000 cheaper.
If you’re looking for a sporty natured luxury Coupe for about 70k, the pick of the bunch is the C 250 CDI. It’s priced very competitively and is an excellent alternative to the offerings from BMW and Audi. It has more than enough power and torque but with superb fuel economy. If you’ve got about 100k to spend, then the C 350 is the one to go for (test drive against Audi A5 3.2 FSI Quattro).
Mercedes will offer all launch variants an 'Edition 1' options pack which includes AMG sports styling, 18-inch alloy wheels, piano lacquer trim, comfort pack, memory and heated seats, keyless go, climatised front seats and thermotronic climate control. That will set you back a reasonable $6100 in the C 180 (for leather upholstery) or just $4360 for all other variants.
With modern attractive styling, aggressive road presence, class-leading technology and competitive pricing, Mercedes-Benz has made an excellent addition to the luxury coupe market with the introduction of the C-Class coupe. A test drive is mandatory if you’re in the market.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe C 180 – $58,900
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe C 250 diesel/petrol – $69,900
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe C 350 – $99,900
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe C 63 AMG – $154,800
Edition 1 Package - $6100 (C180) or $4360 (C 250/350)
- Steering-wheel gearshift paddles
- ARTICO man-made leather upholstery in black with contrasting porcelain stitching (replaces leather on C 250 BE, C 250 CDI BE and C 350 BE)
- Piano-lacquer-look trim elements in porcelain
- Armrest & centre console with contrasting seams in porcelain
- Floor mats with piping in porcelain
- Sports pedals in brushed stainless steel with rubber studs (inc. foot-operated parking brake)
- 'Edition 1' badge on front-passenger-side trim
- AMG 18-inch 7 spoke alloy wheels in titanium grey finish (792)
- Lowered sports suspension
- Perforated front brake discs, brake callipers with Mercedes-Benz lettering
- AMG bodystyling comprising front apron, side skirts and rear apron
- Tailpipe in polished stainless steel
- Only available in obsidian black (197), tenorite grey (755), iridium silver (775) and palladium silver (792)
- Available in diamond white BRIGHT (799) and designo magno night black (056) at additional cost