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First drive: C-class Coupe swoops in

Slinky: The Mercedes-Benz C-class Coupe released this week is a sleeker and more exclusive version of Australia’s best-selling compact luxury sedan.

Mercedes takes fight up to Audi, BMW with sleek, keenly priced C-class Coupe

22 Aug 2011

MERCEDES’ second W204 C-class sedan-based coupe in as many years has arrived in the form of the C-class Coupe.

Priced from $58,900 (plus on-road costs) for the entry-level C180 BE (for BlueEfficiency) Coupe, the two-door four-seater is the cheapest German model in its class by some margin.

It essentially replaces two vehicles in the Mercedes line-up – the Brazilian-built CLC hatch (based on the previous-generation C-class-derived Sport Coupe) and the CLK that was discontinued in 2009.

The C-class Coupe released this week is exactly what it appears to be – a sleeker and more exclusive version of Australia’s best-selling compact luxury sedan.

Sitting above the entry-level C180 BE Coupe are the $69,900 C250 BE Coupe and its equivalently priced and diesel-powered C250 CDI Coupe sibling, and the $99,900 C350 BE Coupe.

In October, the C63 AMG Coupe lands as the range flagship, priced from $154,800, to take on the well-established BMW M3 Coupe. It possesses a 336kW/600Nm 6.2-litre naturally aspirated V8 and AMG Speedshift MCT seven-speed sports transmission.

Revealed in early March at the Geneva motor show, the C204-series C-class Coupe seems to have been positioned to upset the segment applecart in Australia, undercutting the cheapest BMW 3 Series coupe ($66,500 320d Coupe manual) by $7600, or by more than $10,000 over the 320d Coupe auto and Audi A5 Coupe 2.0 TFSI Multitronic.

4 center image However, the new C180 Coupe is $7300 more expensive than the CLC 200K it replaces, while BMW does offer the 120i Coupe from just $47,400 manual/$49,600 auto.

Completely different bodywork to the sedan from the windscreen backwards means the latest Mercedes coupe is substantially new, and features a 450-litre boot augmented by a split-fold rear backrest to increase luggage capacity.

Aided by a more acutely angled windscreen than the sedan, the coupe is 41mm lower and boasts shorter rear overhang, an upswept belt-line, narrow C-pillars, elongated roof and a glasshouse that extends beyond the rear axle.

The aerodynamic drag coefficient is an exceptional 0.26Cd.

All bar the AMG model employ direct injection and Mercedes’ 7G-Tronic automatic transmission driving the rear wheels, while the C250 CDI (diesel) sports ‘Eco’ idle-stop technology to help keep a lid on CO2 emissions and fuel consumption.

Both four-cylinder petrol models use a variation of Mercedes’ new 1.8-litre turbocharged direct-injection twin-cam 16-valve BE unit – dubbed CGI – that debuted in other Australian C-class models almost 18 months ago.

The C180 BE delivers 115kW of power at 5000rpm and 250Nm of torque at 1600rpm, and sprints from 0-100km/h in 8.9 seconds.

The C250 BE produces 150kW at 5500rpm and 310Nm at 2300rpm, dropping the sprint time by 1.7 seconds to 7.2.

Incredibly, despite their disparate outputs, the C250 BE Coupe returns 7.0L/100km and emits 163g/km of CO2, beating the less powerful C180 CE Coupe’s 7.3L/100km and 169g/km.

Assisted by ‘BlueDirect’ fuel injection technology, the C350 BE packs a 3.5-litre V6 with 225kW at 6500rpm and 370Nm at 3500rpm, while returning just 8.3L/100km and 194g/km despite being capable of hitting 100km/h from standstill in only 6.0 seconds.

The sole diesel model leverages Mercedes’ latest CDI common-rail turbo-diesel tech in the shape of a 2.1-litre four-cylinder engine offering 150kW at 4200rpm, 500Nm at 1600rpm, 5.1L/100km, 134g/km and 7.1 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint.

As GoAuto has reported, the C204 is built on the same 2760mm wheelbase as the sedan, but has length, width and height measurements of, respectively, 4590mm, 1770mm and 1406mm. It employs the same speed-sensitive hydraulic rack-and-pinion steering, as well as a three-link MacPherson front and multi-link independent rear suspension.

The ride can be lowered via a sports suspension option comprising firmer and 15mm shorter springs, stiffer shock absorbers and beefier anti-roll bars.

Kerb weights range from 1520kg (C180) to 1660kg (C250 CDI).

Described as a fully-fledged four-seater, the compact Benz coupe offers easy access to the rear compartment with a lever next to the front headrest that tilts the backrest forward.

Mercedes says 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 Benz’s Comand Online multimedia system, which includes internet access for the first time (available when the car is stationary).

A host of standard safety and assistance features includes eleven airbags (front airbags and pelvis bags for the driver and front passenger, a knee bag on the driver’s side, side bags in the front, as well as window bags for the driver and the front and rear passengers), seatbelt pretensioners and belt-force limiters for all seats, a pedestrian-friendly aluminium bonnet, drowsiness detection, radar cruise control, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, ABS brakes and electronic stability control.

Mercedes offers an AMG Sports package that includes a three-spoke flat-bottomed multifunction steering wheel, special twin-spoke alloy wheels and sports pedals in brushed stainless steel with rubber studs, and an AMG bodykit (front and rear apron and side sill panels).

Available across the range, there is also a lowered sports suspension and speed-sensitive steering.

In the sub-$80,000 sportscar segment as defined by VFACTS, the four-cylinder C-class Coupes have to contend with a disparate range of rivals, including the 1 Series coupe, lower-end A5 and 3 Series coupes, Nissan 370Z and Volkswagen Passat CC, while in the over-$80K category, even though the aforementioned Audi and larger BMW coupes will provide the most competition, the class is headed (just) by the E-class Coupe.

A further foe is expected after 2012 with the arrival of the Infiniti G37 Coupe replacement, while Jaguar is preparing a lower-priced coupe to slot below the XK.

Production is at Mercedes’ Bremen facility, alongside the sedan and wagon models.

Mercedes-Benz C-classCoupe pricing:
C180 BlueEfficiency (a) $58,900
C250 BlueEfficiency (a) $69,900
C250 CDI (a) $69,900
C350 BlueEfficiency (a) $99,900
C63 AMG (a) $154,800

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