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Geneva show: C-class becomes coupe

C-class Coupe: New Benz two-door will take the fight to BMW.

Mercedes-Benz finally creates a C-class Coupe to rival BMW’s 3 Series

14 Feb 2011

MERCEDES-BENZ will mark its 125th year of business by releasing its most direct rival for BMW’s almost 30-year-old 3 Series Coupe.

Revealed two weeks ahead of its global debut at the Geneva motor show on March 1, the all-new C-class Coupe hits European showrooms in June before going on sale in Australia alongside the facelifted C-class sedan in mid-2011.

Just as the E-class Coupe and Cabriolet effectively replaced hard and soft-top versions of the CLK respectively last year, the C-class Coupe will this year supersede the CLC-class hatchback, priced higher than the entry-level CLC 200K ($51,600) to compete directly with BMW’s 3 Series Coupe range, which opens with the 320d Coupe ($66,500).

Although the CLC wears front-end styling from the latest W204 C-class sedan of 2008, it dates back to the W203 C-class-based Sport Coupe first seen in 2002, but remains relatively popular in Australia.

Like the outgoing CLC, the stylish new two-door four-seater – which rides on the latest C-class chassis – is identical to the latest C-class sedan at the front and features all-new sheetmetal and glass from the windscreen backwards, plus a booted luggage compartment augmented by twin folding rear seats.

With the windscreen itself also angled ‘faster’ than that of the four-door C-class, Mercedes’ sleek new coupe is 41mm lower and features a short rear overhang, an upswept rear beltline, narrow C-pillar and a long roof above a glasshouse that extends beyond the rear axle.

4 center imageTop and middle: Mercedes C-Class coupe. Bottom: Still shot from Mercedes Super Bowl advertisement.

First seen – at least partially – alongside the forthcoming SLS convertible in a Mercedes-Benz TV commercial during North America’s Super Bowl last week, the new entry-level two-door will be aimed at successful 35 to 45-year-olds.

“By extending the C-class portfolio, we are consciously targeting new customers,” said Mercedes-Benz Cars sales and marketing chief Joachim Schmidt.

“The new model is youthful, stylish and dynamic. What we are offering is an exceptionally sporty way to enter the world of the Mercedes-Benz coupe.” In Europe, the C-class Coupe will be powered by five direct-injection engines, each matched as standard with a fuel-saving idle-stop function, while the German luxury brand’s usual array of driver assistance systems will be joined by the new internet-capable telematics system that debuted in the facelifted C-class sedan and wagon at the Detroit show in January.

There was no official announcement of a rival for BMW’s iconic M3 Coupe or the Audi RS5 – expected in the form of a C63 AMG Coupe powered by the same 336kW/600Nm 6.2-litre V8 as the C63 sedan – but Benz has confirmed a similar engine line-up as the C-class sedan.

The range comprises three petrol engines and two diesels – each classed as BlueEfficiency units – while all automatic variants will receive the car-maker’s upgraded 7G-Tronic seven-speed transmission, which will be standard in the petrol-powered C250 CGI and C350 CGI.

Assisted in Europe by ‘BlueDirect’ fuel injection technology, the latter is – for now – the flagship of the range, offering 225kW of power and 370Nm of torque while returning average fuel consumption of 6.8L/100km.

All four-cylinder engines are turbocharged, with the C220 CDI BlueEfficiency’s turbo-diesel being the most efficient at 4.4L/100km and the C250 CDI returning 4.9L/100km.

Speed-sensitive hydraulic assistance is provided with the rack-and-pinion steering system and, as with other C-class models, the latest Mercedes coupe employs three-link MacPherson front and multi-link independent rear suspension, which can be lowered via a sports suspension option comprising firmer and 15mm shorter springs, stiffer shock absorbers and beefier anti-roll bars.

Like the upgraded C-class sedan and wagon, Mercedes claims the C-class Coupe’s new telematics unit offers greater operating convenience, larger displays, phonebook transfer, SMS message display, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB input in the centre armrest and the Comand Online multimedia system, which includes internet access for the first time when the car is stationary.

A host of standard safety and assistance features includes seven airbags (including a driver’s knee airbag), seatbelt tensioners and belt-force limiters for all seats, a pedestrian-friendly aluminium bonnet, Attention Assist drowsiness detection, Distronic Plus radar cruise control, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, ABS brakes and ESP electronic stability control.

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