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Benz C-class Coupe to scoop hatch buyers

Sleek: The new Mercedes-Benz C-class coupe will take over from the CLC-class as the brand's entry sportscar, which the brand will use to woo younger buyers.

Mercedes’ latest two-door to take over from popular CLC/Sport Hatch

26 Aug 2011

MERCEDES-BENZ Australia hopes the newly released C204 C-class Coupe will take over where the popular CL203 CLC/Sport Coupe hatch left off, luring fresher as well as younger buyers to the 125-year old marque, mostly from other brands.

Four years late but well specified and keenly priced as a result, the German luxury icon’s latest two-door four-seater coupe will also attract a different type of buyer than the C207 E-class Coupe, released in 2009, which shares much of its underpinnings.

This is despite some overlapping engine and pricing elements, as well as broadly similar sizing. Both models are a development of the W204 C-class sedan architecture, although the E-class Coupe is roughly $30,000 dearer than its C-class Coupe equivalent.

The last of the old CLC hatches – launched in August 2008 and sourced from Brazil – are being sold now.

According to Mercedes-Benz senior manager for corporate communications David McCarthy, no customer cannibalisation is expected, except perhaps in the upper reaches of the C-class Coupe range.

The highly specified, $99,900 C350 Coupe’s 225kW/370Nm 3.5-litre direct-injection V6 may sway potential buyers away from the similarly priced but significantly less powerful 150kW/310Nm 1.8-litre direct-injection E250 Coupe base model, which kicks off from $95,900.

4 center imageLeft: Mercedes-Benz C-class coupe. Below: CLC-class coupe.

Meanwhile, the equivalently powered E-class Coupe is the E350 Coupe priced from about $130,000.

Mr McCarthy said the E-class Coupe’s closer allegiance with the more upmarket W212 E-class range means there is enough positioning differentiation for its customer base to choose it over the C-class Coupe.

Furthermore, he points to the obvious visual differences, along with the fact that only the E-class Coupe features the desirable pillarless doorframe body shape, as well as the option of a four-seater Cabriolet version, as other key reasons why the two coupes will capture diverse buyers.

Mr McCarthy also confirmed that a C-class two-door Convertible is unlikely to appear – and certainly not for this generation.

“There may be some substitute with the C350 Coupe and E-Class Coupe (ranges), but then things like the E-class Coupe’s pillarless roof will make a difference,” he told GoAuto at the launch of the C204 series in Melbourne this week.

“The C180 Coupe and C250 Coupes are more of our conquest vehicles, like the old CLC was. We sold about 3500 of those in 35 months, and it was a big success for us. It brought in many new buyers from other brands.

“As a result, the C-class Coupe will continue to bring new people to the brand who may never have considered a Mercedes-Benz before.

“And they may not necessarily be the same type of car as the Coupe either.”

Among the makes and models that Mercedes-Benz expects the C180 Coupe and C250 Coupe to conquest buyers from are the Volkswagen Eos, Volvo S60, Audi A5 Coupe, Audi TT 1.8, BMW 1 Series hatch and Coupe, and even the Jaguar XF 2.2D.

“The C-class Coupe may even snare some C-class sedan buyers,” Mr McCarthy said.

Mercedes-Benz expects a high proportion of customers for the newcomer to choose the AMG body kit option, which adds just $5550 to the price of the C180 Coupe and $4150 to the remainder of the range, yet appears very much like the high-performance AMG 63 version that is coming in October.

Overall, selling at least 150 units per month is the target (though one Mercedes-Benz insider says that is a conservative figure), which would make the C-class Coupe a better seller than the CLC was.

About 70 per cent of volume is expected to be made up of the mid-range C250 (split 50/50 between the petrol and diesel offerings), with the C180 Coupe opener accounting for up to 20 per cent, leaving the C350 with just 10 per cent.

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