A “little bit fancy” and “image conscious”. That’s how James Ward squared up both the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe and those who drive – or, rather, buy – them in our review of the range at its recent local launch. And as the bloke nominated as the custodian of the latest CarAdvice long-termer, a high-spec 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300 Coupe, I’m suddenly alerted not merely to how my colleagues view me but also what ‘our’ newly arrived two-door might say about its driver over the next few months’ adventures in public.
Before venturing further, I’ll highlight that it arrived in white (a colour one might assume it will inevitably remain). As in, “oh…it’s white.” Not “Wow…Brilliant Blue”. Or “Ahh…Designo Hyacinth Red Metallic.” It’s Polar White, which is a rather fetching shade of white, if white nonetheless. I’d have fancied Iridium Silver with the Cranberry Red leather interior myself, but, no, The Boss has opted for safe white with black innards as if to say “Curt, you’re not that fancy, mate” or “peg that ego of yours back a notch.”
A white coupe with ‘C63’ on its rump and eight fire-breathing cylinders under the right foot might’ve made the heart soar and the (virtual) hip pocket even sorer, but, at $83,400 plus on-roads, the C300 Coupe is roughly half the price - if, albeit, with half the horsepower and cylinder count. The situation lands in balance, then, so there’s some logic at play to suggest both Benzes are, thus, equals of sorts.
Slumming it? Hardly. The ‘300’ is the flagship is of the regular non-AMG range and, for a start, it's not all that far short of the illustrious AMG version for head-turning street presence.
The C300 Coupe’s appearance sells itself well irrespective of chosen paintwork. With its squat stance, long bonnet, flowing profile, techy face and muscle-flexed character lines – anchored all the more convincingly with its restrained, standard-issue AMG stylisms – it’s quickly asserted itself as the ‘alpha car’ of the CarAdvice Sydney garage and outclasses any other vehicle parked on my street.
However, given every C-Coupe gets AMG-massaged exterior styling as standard, the C300 isn’t obviously sportier and more stylish than the base C200 version that wants for 17,500 fewer Aussie pesos.
The C300, of course, loads in more spec. Compared with the entry coupe, our C300 gets 19-inch wheels (against 18s); real leather trim (rather than man-made Artico stuff); high-spec Comand Online infotainment; a 13-speaker 560-watt Burmeister Surround Sound audio; rear privacy glass; and a sports exhaust system. This last piece of gear contributes in some manner to lifting the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder’s outputs from the base car’s 135kW/300Nm to a more certifiably sporting 185kW/370Nm we’ll have at our disposal.
Does all that stack up to seventeen and half grand’s worth of added goodness? Presentation wise and for ticking boxes, it appears so. But appearances can deceived in the tangible experience, let alone a long-term one, so for holistic goodness the umpires are still conferring.
But to further bolster its pitch, the C300 loads in a bag of Driver Assistance Package Plus goodies. And it’s a mixed bag at that, if tests of the various systems past are anything to go by.
Of this bundled gear, I heartily welcome cross-traffic and blind-spot assists as well as the Braking Assistance Plus and Pre-Safe collision protocols, this last item of which I’m hoping not to test during our tenure with the blonde Benz. The active steering and lane-keeping I can do without, because they’re at odds with my personal rules of road use: if you can’t steer, don’t drive.
Thankfully, unlike some Benz rivals, there are ‘off’ switches within easy reach to the right of the steering wheel, rather than digging deep in distracting submenus that might cause you to crash (see how it all works?). Adaptive cruise? It’s either a blessing or curse depending on traffic conditions. And I’ll have to give this Stop & Go Pilot thingy a crack, too, soon enough…
That’s an impressive equipment list given it builds on solid foundations: even the base C-Class Coupe gets top-shelf gear such as a 360-degree camera system, DAB+ audio, LED automated headlights and active parking assistance.
Left to my greedy devices, I’d still click more option boxes until my fingers burned - y’know, for science, of course – though it does seem, at the outset of our long-term adventure, that there’s not much to want for. Still, our car gets more.
For $690, we get heated seats. Yes, really, they sting you extra for seat heating on a mid-$80K prestige car. Ours also gets the Air-Balance package ($490), a perfume dispenser in the glovebox offering a choice of four different Benz scents – ours is a “rounded citrus” take called Freeside Mood – or, if I like, Eau Du Katy Perry or whichever other personal fragrance I might fancy (without being too fancy, right, Mr Ward?)
The Vision Package is our other option, and a pricier one at that. At $4490, it adds the panoramic glass roof with roller blind, a head-up display and the whiz-bang LED Intelligent Light System.
One option not fitted to our long-termer is Airmatic adaptive suspension ($2990), which has been praised for its comfort and bump-absorption highly and regularly enough in Mercedes-Benz reviews past that you might presume its addition is mandatory. It’ll be interesting to see what the standard-fitment, passive steel-sprung suspension is like around Sydney’s third-world byways over the coming months.
Regardless, there are lots of bells to ring and whistles to blow in our newest long-termer, and rightly so, given we’ve landed at $89,070 before even leaving the showroom floor. Not that we’ve had much of a chance to sample the oddment yet: our first weekend with the svelte Benz in early June coincided with Sydney’s seismic rainfall deluge.
So, thus far, I can report that the windshield wipers work fine. And that the coupe is watertight enough to double as a handy boat when need be. Given we've done little else thus far with our new machine, we'll carry over our critical ratings from our aforementioned launch review – a solid eight from ten – as our baseline from which to fiddle with in future long-term reports.
The initial impression is that the mid-sized coupe flaunts its own vibe and there’s more at play than being merely a C-Class sedan with its rear doors welded up. But given how much commonality there is under their skins, it remains to be seen whether the C300 Coupe can deliver on sporting promise, or if it's merely a sheep in a fancy wolf’s clothing.
2016 Mercedes-Benz C300 Coupe
Date acquired – June 2016
Odometer reading - 1539kms
Travel since previous – N/A
Consumption since previous – N/A
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