by Brad Leach - 29/09/11
Looks count in the sports/luxury coupe market and the all-new Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe delivers. The elegant externals are matched by a stylish interior and - priced from $58,900 (C 180) - the C-Class Coupe steals an edge on its direct rival in the ‘driving dynamics for your deutschmarks’ department.
Mercedes being Mercedes, the all-new C-Class Coupe delivers a breathtaking list of technology and safety features (11 airbags!), but it’s the styling which delivers the knockout punch – the new-look Mercedes-Benz grille, the classic coupe long bonnet and a long, flowing roofline give the C-Class Coupe standout on-road presence.
And Mercedes being Mercedes, all four engines in the latest C-Class Coupe range (three petrol and one turbo-diesel) are the latest BlueEFFICIENCY models for reduced fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.
Car Showroom tested the diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz C 250 CDI C-Class Coupe - it’s mid-range, priced at $69,900. Entry to the Mercedes-Benz C-Class lineup is the C180 (115kW/250Nm, 1.8-litre, four-cylinder) which is sharply priced at $58,900, next-up, at $69,900 is the C250 (150kW/310Nm, 1.8-litre, four-cylinder) while the range-topper is the C350 (225kW, 370Nm, 3.5-litre V6) stickered at $99,900.
All models expect the C 180 run a Dynamic Handling package suspension system which brings a 15mm reduction in ride height and stiffer springs/dampers.
Inside are four individual seats, beautifully sculptured, with integrated head restraints (unusual for ‘Benz) and the latest Mercedes-Benz dashboard and trim design – wonderfully crafted and superbly efficient (as you expect). And there are no less than nine driver assistance systems including Distronic Plus, Active Lane Keeping and Blind Sport Assist and Attention Assist.
Audio and satellite navigation systems also run new technology and improved Bluetooth functionality.
Our week was spent in a Mercedes-Benz C 250 CDI C-Class Coupe – the only diesel variant. Entry to the all-new ‘Benz C-Class Coupe lineup is the 1.8-litre, four-cylinder C 180 with 115kW/250Nm, the mid-range C 250 also employs a 1.8-litre, four-cylinder powerplant but is good for 150kW/310Nm while the 3.5-litre V5 C 350 reigns supreme with 225kW/370Nm.
‘Benz says the Mercedes-Benz C 250 CDI C-Class Coupe we tested (150kW at 4200rpm and 500Nm from 1600rpm) delivers segment-best scores for fuel consumption (5.1l/100kms) and exhaust C02 emissions (134g/km).
Drive is via the latest version of Mercedes’ 7G-TRONIC PLUS seven-speed automatic transmission. ‘PLUS’ means calibration for enhanced fuel consumption and comfort, but we certainly found the C-Class Coupe crisp enough in its throttle response (even in ‘ECO’ mode) to be classified as a sporty coupe.
And, of course Mercedes-Benz has been building diesel engines since our grandfathers were wearing nappies so they’ve certainly got the hang of it by now. The Mercedes-Benz C 250 CDI C-Class Coupe was sublimely quiet, even when cold (an early spring cold snap brought mornings below five degrees during our week) and when accelerating hard.
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe highlights the current ‘Benz interior style – modern, but not edgy, classy, but not conservative and with a new colour palette which will surprise if you haven’t recently checked-out a Mercedes passenger car.
All four seats are superbly sculptured – we really liked the driving position which was achieved with a mixture of manual slide and electronic adjustment for height and backrest angle for the seat as well as reach and rake (manual) for the typically superb ‘Benz steering wheel. Mercedes says the C-Class Coupe’s 273mm of fore-aft slide for the front seats is the longest in the category.
Our Mercedes-Benz C-Class C 250 CDI (like all models except the C 180) was beautifully trimmed in full leather (Artico man-made leather for the entry model). Our test car ran brushed aluminium trim, but you can also select from five others including high-gloss black piano-lacquer look and dark burr walnut.
Instrumentation is the usual gauges and to the left is the high-resolution screen for the satellite navigation and audio. In the centre of the gauges are some excellent graphics showing (for example) which seat belts are used and even if the backrests on the rear seats are unlatched (60/40 split-folding for extra luggage).
‘Benz says the C-Class Coupe delivers front/rear shoulder room of 1372mm and 1278mm respectively plus elbow room (1443mm front/1335mm rear) and hip room between front and rear seats of 789mm which, they claim, are amongst the best in this league.
Access to the rear seats is uncomplicated thanks to ‘Benz’ EASY-ENTRY system which is simply activated via a lever near the top of the front seats which initially folds the seat, then slides it forwards (all manual, not electric but, unlike some rivals, the operation is finger-touch so even the Car Showroom juniors could manage un-aided).
Audio functionality has been improved with Benz’ latest Audi 20 system with functions displayed on the centre screen, along with a great array of technical information including – and here’s an interesting one – fuel consumption history (it gets frustrating to see how much your efficiency nose-dives in city traffic).
Styling-wise, the all-new Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe is an exercise in elegance. And, as you would expect from the world leader, it’s not half-baked. The coupe’s silhouette is actually 41mm lower than the C-Class sedan and while the two share some cues around the beltline, the coupe’s panache arrives in the form of those dramatically-upswept C-pillars.
The front, naturally, shares its looks with the rest of the latest Mercedes-Benz C-Class range – the somewhat sporty/aggressive grille treatment looks great and the Coupe gets a few distinguishing details.
And the short rear end is all curves and chamfers, leading to a boot with a sportily raised trailing edge and a diffuser-like under-bumper treatment.
All-up the C-Class Coupe shows – once again – how Mercedes’ designers, perhaps better than anyone else, can deliver a premium look with simplicity and precision, largely by getting the proportions spot-on regardless of the market segment.
Turning sedans into coupes often brings some added beef to support the larger door openings. ‘Benz is smarter than that and there has been a focus on keeping the weight of the C-Class Coupe reined-in – not the least of which is the use of aluminium for the front fenders, bonnet (9.2kgs lighter than the steel equivalent) and parcel shelf.
And that in turn translates into on-road dynamics which are sharp and responsive. Sure the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a bit more composed than some edgier high performance coupes, but this is still a coupe performance drivers will enjoy
Over our high-speed mountain roads loop, the C 250 CDI was balanced and poised, with nice feedback from the steering. In fact due to a schedule clash we drove back-to-back over the mountains in the ‘Benz Coupe and a performance-oriented Japanese coupe and it was the steering feel which was poles apart between the two.
Around town the turbo-diesel and seven-speed auto were nicely matched for freeway merging, but on a particularly bad morning peak run to the airport, we must confess auto start/stop would test the patience of the greenest greenie (clever and worthwhile though that technology is).
We’re being picky here but we were surprised the reversing camera was on the options list and not standard fit in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe C 250CDI. There’s parking sensors, but even the latest Hyundai Accent (starts at $16,990) has a camera.
‘Style’ – with a capital ‘S’ – that’s the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe. Sure you get the ‘Benz sporty driving dynamics plus state-of-the-art technology and safety – but the looks are what sets the C-Class apart.
And the jaw-dropping exterior is matched inside with standout style and comfort…with just the right sporty feel.
We should also add, Mercedes-Benz isn’t easing-up in its ‘bang-for-the-bucks’ philosophy and the all-new C-Class Coupe is great value with a remarkable list of standard features.
When the AMG version of the Mercedes-Benz C- Class Coupe arrives, we think it’s going to be love at first sight…and if the Car Showroom juniors grizzle about the lack of rear-seat legroom on the drive to netball – tough!
Naturally it’s the BMW 3 Series Coupe. Entry to the 3 Series Coupe is the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel 320d, priced at $66,500 but you’ll need $80,850 for the first petrol-powered model (325i) – although its 2.5-litre V6 delivers 160kW/250Nm to the $69,900 C250’s 1.8-litre, four-cylinder with 150kW/310Nm.
Audi’s A5 Coupe would be in the consideration set, but it’s slightly larger and starting price is $69,900 for the 2.0TFSI (155kW/350Nm).
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