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

Our Opinion

We like
Stunning looks, well equipped from base model up, sports exhaust note and overall performance of C300, cabin quality, seat comfort
Room for improvement
Diesel model feels heavy, stiff suspension set-up on diesel, complicated and bulky Comand controller

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Mercedes-Benz logo28 Apr 2016

By TIM NICHOLSON

IN THE age-old Mercedes versus BMW rivalry, some segments are more hotly contested than others.

For example, the premium mid-size coupe battle has been fought between the crew from Stuttgart and its Bavarian rivals since the early 2000s, with their C-Class Coupe and the 3 Series Coupe/4 Series.

And that’s not even taking into consideration Ingolstadt’s finest, Audi, and their iconic A5.

The Germans had better watch out though. As Lexus has proven with its RC, a sleek premium coupe doesn’t have to come from Deutschland for buyers to swarm to it.

Infiniti’s Q60 is coming and it carries bags of essential coupe charisma, Audi’s new A5 should surface soon and is sure to be a stunner, while Jaguar is rumoured to be looking into a coupe version of the XE mid-sized sedan.

So Benz and BMW are on notice, but Mercedes has fired the latest salvo with its gorgeous new C-Class Coupe, arriving in showrooms this month.

Pricing is in a similar ballpark to the 4 Series, although you can get into an entry-level, but still well specified base C200 from $65,900 plus on-roads, while the base 420i is $71,100.

When Benz revealed the Coupe last year, pundits thought it was an absolute stunner, and it is with a great deal of delight that we can report it looks absolutely smashing in the metal, and in any grade.

Benz execs predict that one of the Coupe’s main draw cards will be its looks and we think there will be more than a few punters that will be buy it solely based on its sleek, curvy proportions. And we wouldn’t blame them.

Another nice surprise is how well equipped the Coupe is, even at base C200 level.

As expected there are innumerable options packages, but the C200 and the diesel-powered C250d ($74,900) get auto dimming interior and driver’s side mirrors, Garmin Map Pilot navigation, brushed aluminium trim, DAB+ digital radio, interior light package, leather flat-bottomed steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, AMG floor mats and sports pedals, a 7.0-inch TFT colour display and a selection of passive and active safety features.

The quality of the cabin materials, particularly the aluminium trim and seat materials, are of a high standard. Where smaller Euros, including Benz’s own A-Class and CLA, don’t feel particularly premium, the C-Class Coupe is a class act and owners will feel that they are well and truly getting their money’s worth.

Once inside, there is no doubting that you are in a C-Class, but that is not a bad thing – apart from the oversized and over-complicated Comand controller in the console that we are not fans of.

The flat-bottomed leather three-spoke steering wheel is delightful and the contrasting upholstery colours – from brown to red and light grey – are appealing.

The seats hug the body perfectly, but not too much like a couple of other Germans we know, and the cabin offers a feeling of being ensconced, which is what a lot of buyers expect in a sportscar or coupe.

Visibility out the small and steep rear windscreen is limited, but various sensors and cameras make up for the lack of vision. The forward view is unobscured.

Rear seats offer adequate support and, while adults should only sit back there for short distances, it feels less cramped than the second row of a Ford Mustang, for example.

The C250d is an interesting choice and buyers that drive long distances would likely benefit from the fuel economy (the official figure is 4.4L/100km), but the 150kW/500Nm 2.1-litre turbo-diesel is noisy, particularly under heavy acceleration and doesn’t have a particularly nice note.

Oddly, when we drove the C-Class sedan with the 2.1-litre diesel engine at launch it was so hushed we found it difficult to tell there was an oil-burner under the bonnet.

The 150kW/500Nm diesel is 120kg heavier than the C200 petrol and the weight is noticeable, with the front end having a weightier feel through corners.

The suspension – a tweaked version of the set-up found in the sedan – is tuned to the sportier side and is firm on rough surfaces, even in Comfort driving mode.

Straight-line performance is stronger than expected for a diesel (0-100km/h in 6.7s) and there are no concerns about overtaking at high speed.

In fact the diesel is quicker in a straight line than the 135kW/300Nm C200 by 0.6s. The base petrol model is likely to be the best-seller, according to Benz, and buyers are unlikely to be disappointed with the levels of performance.

It is more a cruiser than a bruiser, and it has a bland engine note. The C200 is noticeably lighter on its feet than the diesel, which is evident when tackling a corner. The C200 kept its composure well and the ride was softer than that of the diesel.

Performance fans that can’t stretch the budget to the $162,400 AMG C63 S, or can’t wait for the forthcoming V6-powered AMG C34 Coupe (pricing is not yet confirmed) have the C300 to satisfy their performance needs for now.

The 180kW/370Nm C300 hits 100km/h in 6.0s and, thanks to its standard sports exhaust, has a glorious note not found in the C200 or C250d.

Performance is punchy, without being brutal, and the C300 cruised though tight bends in a way that you would expect from a much lighter, smaller coupe.

The steering in all variants, but particularly the petrol models, is crisp and direct, and is perfectly weighted. Steering the C300 is a joy.

Mercedes’ lane-keeping system that takes control of the wheel and directs the car back into the lane gives you a bit of a shock when it first activates, but Benz says that is what it is supposed to do to help the driver concentrate. It feels forceful at first but with time you would get used to it, or simply shut the system off at the controls.

The Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe will have to wait for the first Australian drive in a few weeks time, but given the standard set by the C300, we can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the German brand’s performance hero.

Like the sedan on which the Coupe is based, the C-Class is a big leap forward for Benz and the company will not struggle to find buyers for its latest two-door.

While the BMW 4 Series is getting on a bit now, it is still a stunner and a hoot to drive and, regardless of where your allegiances lie, if you are after a European coupe, we recommend taking both for a spin before making up your mind.

This segment is hot and getting hotter by the year and Benz just upped the temperature another notch.

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