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Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - C-Class - C250 Coupe Sport

Our Opinion

We like
Ride/handling balance, sporty transmission behaviour, beefed-up interior and exterior look
Room for improvement
Silly parking brake, deserves a more powerful engine, interior can get noisy

6 Dec 2012

MERCEDES-Benz should sell a shed-load of C250 Sport Coupes, judging by how many Australians fit M Sport kits to their BMWs.

The new AMG-engineered optional upgrade pack for the C-Class Coupe delivers meaningful benefits to the enthusiast driver who desires a more emotional connection with their car.

For about half the price of AMG’s full-phat V8-powered C63 hot-rod, we have here a car that looks the part with its big drilled brake discs peeping from behind black 18-inch alloy wheels, lowered ride-height and meaty body kit.

If only they had gone the extra mile and fitted the C63’s power-bulged bonnet ...

Inside it is the same story, with figure-hugging seats part-upholstered in grippy race-style Alcantara, dashing red seat-belts, a chunky sports steering wheel with metallic paddle-shifters and swish stainless steel pedals.

It is a shame, then, that one of the pedals is for the parking brake, which is released by a separate handle by the driver’s right knee. Come on Benz, your combined indicator/wiper stalk is weird enough, OK?

All in all though, on looks alone, the impression from this car is that it means business, and it puts the driver in the mood to burn some rubber.

With a modest 150kW and 310Nm on tap from the 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine under that disappointingly flat bonnet, a Golf GTI would have shown us a clean pair of heels.

Performance is just about adequate, and the way the C250 Sport steers deftly, holds a confident stance in corners and brakes reassuringly all bring a smile to the face, while measurably raising the C-Class Coupe’s game over the standard model.

We enjoyed the exhaust’s burping exhortations during full-bore upshifts and appreciated the throttle-blips on downshifts.

And though nobody is going to mistake this car’s soundtrack for a V8, the sports exhaust with sound generator produced a respectably meaty note under load at high revs.

It all adds up to make the car feel faster than it is (officially 0-100km/h takes a leisurely 7.2 seconds) and more fun to drive in almost all situations, without reducing its everyday appeal.

We reckon that buyers might soon feel the desire for more power though, and C250 Sport certainly deserves it, given how it drives.

As expected from a sports suspension setup that delivers admirable levels of body control, the ride is a little firm but this did not take long to get used to and we were impressed by the way it soaked up even larger bumps without slamming across them.

Grip levels are high, helped by those menacing AMG alloys shod with high-quality rubber measuring 225mm in width at the front and a generous 255mm at the back.

Throttle response is crisp and the seven-speed automatic transmission seamlessly and smoothly gets on with the job in the background in standard eco mode, while hanging on to ratios for longer and accurately predicting the correct ratio when entering corners in sport mode.

With eco mode selected, the transmission quickly shuffles up to the highest ratio and stays there as much as it can.

In some cars this behaviour results in engine labouring or hunting for ratios once the going gets hilly but we found the C250’s petrol engine to be admirably flexible, with enough mid-range shove for confident country road overtaking and plenty of low-down grunt for easy city driving.

For example, crawling slowly up a congested hill with 1400rpm on the tacho was just fine and a 100km/h cruise is comfortably achieved at just 1700rpm.

Having spent most of the journey in Sport mode, we achieved fuel consumption of less than 9.0 litres per 100 kilometres on our drive through sweeping hills from Yea to congested inner-city Melbourne, thirstier than the official combined figure of 6.9L/100km.

While we are sure the C250 is a quiet and comfortable cruiser on the smooth roads of continental Europe, Australian conditions can get the better of its sound suppression.

The level of road noise got a big raucous on the many coarse-chip surfaces of our drive route and under gentle acceleration at low to middling revs the engine emits an uninspiring drone.

There were also a few creaks from the cabin and a bit of whine from the engine or transmission was frequently detectable.

The eco-friendly idle-stop system is effective while dealing with city traffic and restarts the engine promptly, but start-up is not the smoothest and the car feels as though it is straining to move forwards as the engine fires up.

But these are mere foibles in what is otherwise a genuinely enticing package.

Not only is it something a bit different, the C250 Sport clearly benefits from its injection of genuine AMG DNA and represents some true enthusiast appeal against the ageing BMW 325i and Audi A5 2.0 TFSI Quattro in the $80,000 luxury coupe market.

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