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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - CLC-Class

First look: Benz Sports Coupe becomes CLC

C-shaped: New CLC hatchback is based on the four-door W204 C-class.

Second-generation two-door baby Benz gets its own acronym: Meet the new CLC

29 Jan 2008

MERCEDES-Benz has added a new acronym to its model range with the introduction of the CLC – the replacement for the C-class Sports Coupe, which the company says won many new buyers to the brand.

Rather than revealing it at the Detroit or Geneva motor shows, Mercedes chose to unveil the coupe version of the latest C-class range (launched in Australia as a sedan last July) at this week’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin, underscoring its style credentials and younger target market.

The two-door CLC will go on sale in Europe in May with a six-model line-up consisting of two turbo-diesels, two supercharged four-cylinder petrol engines and two V6 models.

Australian sales will commence soon after – probably in July – and will certainly include the two ‘Kompressor’ models, which have been the most popular in Australia, but Mercedes-Benz Australia is still negotiating with the factory over other engine variants and prices.

Pricing is expected to rise only slightly over the current entry level of $56,890 for the C180K, which will become the CLC180 Kompressor under the new naming regime.

Both versions of the 1.8-litre supercharged engine have been given modest performance boosts while returning up to 10 per cent better fuel consumption.

4 center imageThe CLC180K now produces 105kW of power and 230Nm of torque and accelerates from 0-100km/h in 9.7 seconds while the CLC200K rises to 135kW/250Nm and does the 0-100km/h sprint in 8.6 seconds.

There are two turbo-diesel models, both with 2.2-litre four-cylinder engines, with the CLC200 CDI producing 90kW/270Nm and taking 11.3 seconds to go from 0-100km/h, while the CLC220CDI has 110kW/340Nm and completes the sprint in 9.7 seconds.

Australia has previously taken V6-engined petrol models in small numbers and these are no doubt under consideration again, the choice being between the 2.5-litre CLC230 and the 3.5-litre CLC350.

The smaller V6 produces 150kW/245Nm and pushes the CLC230 from 0-100km/h in 8.4 seconds while the flagship CLC350 – which will remain the performance leader following news that AMG will not be producing a CLC variant – gets 200kW/350Nm and does the sprint in just 6.3 seconds.

In Europe, every model comes with a standard six-speed manual gearbox (which is optional in Australia) while the four-cylinder models get a five-speed automatic and the V6 engines are mated to Benz’s now-familiar seven-speed auto.

Of course, most of the improvements introduced last year with the new C-Class are incorporated into the CLC.

Suspension is much as before while the alloy wheels are 16-inch and 17-inch, with 18-inch AMG units available as part of a sports package that also includes lowered and stiffer suspension, wider tyres, leather steering wheel and brushed aluminium trim.

A new development for the CLC is what Benz calls a “direct-steer system”, which is also part of the sports package.

It is based on the previous speed-sensitive power steering system but adds variable steering rack ratio so that the steering wheel only has to be moved slightly when cornering. The company claims that the CLC therefore responds more quickly and improves handling and agility on winding country roads.

Mercedes-Benz has also developed three new infotainment units for the CLC, but these will not be available until late this year.

The wedge-shaped styling clearly links the C-class front end with a bulbous roofline sweeping down to an abbreviated tail, which features a spoiler built into the tailgate. The tail also features split tail-lights, a row of LED centre stop lights, a chrome tailgate handle and diffuser-look bumper.

The German company claims that the previous Sports Coupe model was extremely successful in attracting new customers to the three-pointed star, with 70 per cent of the 320,000 sales since it was introduced in 2001 being first-time Benz buyers.

Furthermore, the company says that 43 per cent of those conquest buyers have since moved up into bigger Benz models and now drive more expensive E-class, CLK or SLK models.

Read more:

AMG to shun CLC, GLK

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