Plenty of C sensibilities mixed with an extra dose of driving verve make for an enjoyable two-door that’s also sensibly priced.
WHAT IS IT?
The two-door version of Mercedes-Benz’s top selling car, the C-Class sedan. Based on the C-Class four-door that arrived in 2014, it is the second-generation model, codenamed C205.
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT
The C Coupe has just arrived in Australia and we were keen to give it a spin on familiar roads. While it’s the C63 AMG we can’t wait to get our hands on, for now we’re limited to a taste test of the non-AMG models; the C200, C250d and C300.
BMW 4-Series, Audi A5, Lexus RC.
THE WHEELS VERDICT
As with the C sedan, the C-Class Coupe is a polished performer and one that brings added driving nous thanks to AMG suspension. Still, it’s more about cruising in style with the C200 and C250d, although the C300 livens things up thanks to its rortier engine.
PLUS: Sharp pricing and decent equipment; rorty 2.0 turbo for C300; ride on Airmatic suspension; sleek design
MINUS: Steering not as sharp as other dynamic aspects; C200 and C250d drivetrains aren’t particularly sporty; it’s a decent step up to C300.
THE WHEELS REVIEW
Same wheelbase, same length, same width but 60kg more metal. Oh, and you pay more for it.
Like many two-doors, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe doesn’t start with the best sales pitch, although the brochure has glossy images of the elegant “diamond grille” and the sleek S-Class-Coupe-esque rump.
That’s when the circa-$5k price premium over an equivalent C-Class sedan starts to win the Coupe some crucial, style-inspired points.
The AMG boffins have also chipped in with the suspension tune, diluting some of the cushiony ride of the C and injecting more cornering nous to liven things up.
Under the bonnet it’s pure C sedan, with a choice of three grades: C200, C250d and C300. There’s also the C63 AMG, which we’ll sample another day.
The petrol engines will account for the bulk of Coupe sales, with the tempting $65,900 price tag on the C200 key to its appeal. It’s no stripper, either. There’s electric seats with memory functionality, sat-nav, LED headlights, digital radio and 18-inch hoops.
Less convincing is the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. The flexible 300Nm defines its character, with loads of muscle around 3000rpm. Rev it towards its 6300rpm cutout and the 135kW is less convincing, a tad overwhelmed by the 1450kg it has to shift. Forget audible excellence, too; this engine is more about getting the job done.
Those wanting more sparkle will find it in the C300, which uses a heavily revised version of the same engine. Torque jumps to 370Nm but it's the sizzle of the 180kW that adds to its fun factor. The engine also releases a satisfying snarl over 4500rpm thanks to its sports exhaust, the acoustics relishing in more bass in Sport mode.
Less impressive are the gear shifts in Sport+ mode, with a full-throttle jerkiness that seems to bring little accelerative benefit.
Sport and Sport+ also add much needed weight to the steering, for added confidence. However, the steering doesn't have the alacrity to match the rest of the car. While its ratio is quicker than that of C four-doors, an even shorter ratio would be more in keeping with the sleek personality.
While the steel springs fitted standard are well calibrated to the car – there's firmness that can make it busy on pockmarked roads but it's nicely controlled and not harsh – the optional air suspension is a worthy $2990 upgrade. The Sport+ setting is superfluous for all but glass-smooth surfaces. But the Comfort setting brings a relaxing fluidity when you're not in attack mode.
Similarly, the 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel (150kW/500Nm) has near-instant right foot force, but it's more cruising effortlessness than dashing from corner to corner.
Inside, as with the sedan, simplicity and quality combine to deliver a cabin that exceeds its price tag. From the cool touch metal finishes on everything from the speaker grilles to the air vents to the warm matte wood dash inserts.
Space up front is superb, with generous headroom (the seats sit lower for a more cocooned experience) and excellent and easy electric seat adjustment. The seatbelt appears on a retractable arm before slotting slightly lower over your shoulder.
Indeed luxury is a large part of the sporty Coupe. The C200 and C250d, in particular, are more about getting there in style. But the C300 is a more convincing rorty sporty.
The Coupe’s front seats sit 14mm lower than those in the sedan, and it makes a noticeable difference, combined with higher window sills to create a more cocooned feel. Other Coupe changes include standard AMG-spec suspension and a quicker steering rack. Visually, apart from the coupe roofline, it’s all about the “diamond grille”.
Model: Mercedes-Benz C300 Coupe
Engine: 1991cc 4cyl turbo
Max power: 180kW @ 5500rpm
Max torque: 370Nm @ 1300-4000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed auto
Kerb weight: 1490kg
On sale: Now