PARKING German luxury in your driveway has rarely been as affordable or as property-enhancing thanks to Mercedes-Benz.
It may be the world's oldest car maker but it couldn't better capture style and elegance with wallet-cheating economy demanded by today's buyers. And with its pricing, you don't have to be a zillionaire to own one.
Mercedes recently stopped production of its CLC and CLK coupes, now filling the gap with its newcomer, the C-Class Coupe. Though it has two doors, the coupe seats four, has a boot almost as big as the sedan and comes with a new generation of frugal four-cylinder engines - and one V6 - with an even more explosive AMG model ready for duty later this year.
The pretty coupe comes with a pretty price. There will be five models of the C-Class when the line-up is filled out by early next year. For now, there’s the C180 entry-level at $58,900 (which is only $400 dearer than the more compact CLC Evolution model); C250; C250CDI (the only diesel in the range); C350; and next year, the C63 AMG. The standard equipment level is as impressive as the prices, including a Command control system with Suna traffic management for the C250 and C350. Unusual for a new model poised to hit the market, Mercedes will launch Edition 1 - a limited edition package that costs $4360 extra (a bit extra for the C180) for gear including 18-inch seven spoke alloys and stitched leather upholstery in black.
There’s a lot of CLK in the profile and indeed the way the C-Class Coupe is designed traces its predecessors intended clientele. The nose and front fenders are basically C-Class sedan, but externally the lines involve all new sheet metal and - in the case of the bonnet - aluminium. Trainspotters will note the Coupe’s two-bar grille, LED running lights and LEDs for the tail. There’s also a fat Mercedes star emblem within the grille. The cabin is from the C-Class range with the big exception of the sculptured two rear seats. Mercedes claims the boot shaves only 15 litres off the luggage area compared with the sedan. Trim and finish are excellent though there’s typical Mercedes restraint. The closest its gets to letting its hair down is the silver finish of the dash and door trim which is called "galvanised".
The three four cylinder engines are a treat. They’ve been around in other models in recent times but Mercedes just keeps honing these comparatively small engines to get more economy and yet still deliver a smile on the driver’s face. The C180 and C250 petrols share the basics of a 1.8-litre capacity and a turbocharger. But tweaking lifts the C180’s 115kW/250Nm to 150kW/310Nm, cuts the 0-100km/h dash to 7.2 seconds from 8.9 seconds and yet the quicker, more powerful unit gets better fuel economy and puffs less emissions.
The C180 claims 7.3 litres/100km and 169g/km CO2 while the C250 sips 7.0 l/100km and emits 163g/km CO2. The 2.1-litre turbo-diesel four is fractionally quicker to 100km/h than the C250, substantially more economical at 5.1 l/100km and 134g/km CO2 and delivers 150kW/500Nm. Otherwise, the Coupe is all C-Class sedan, including the "sports" button that firms the suspension. It is standard on all models and optional on the C180.
Same as the C-Class sedan and wagon, the Coupe gets a five-star crash rating and has the full suite of chassis and braking system electronics. You wouldn’t expect anything less.
Unexpectedly, the C-Class Coupe feels like a much bigger car. Yes, it’s physically bigger than the CLC that it sort-of replaces and is smaller than the E-Class based coupe. But on the road, and indeed within the cabin, it feels the same size as the E-Class. Which is biggish. That means decent cabin room, reflected by the expansive width and ability to fit two adults in the rear. The design and placement of instruments and switches follow Mercedes style, which means familiarisation is needed.
Crank the C250 petrol over and the idle is a bit harsh. The turbo makes it a lot quieter than the supercharger used on previous Kompressor models, but it’s still not the smoothest unit around. But there’s no complaints with the performance. There is a bit of lag off the mark but the seven cogs in the transmission make it easier and quicker to pluck the best from the engine’s powerband and get it to the ground. The gearbox is, by the way, excellent. Its rapid shifts feel more like a dual-clutch automated manual.
While the C250’s powerplant is a surprise - Mercedes predicts it will be the biggest seller in the Coupe range - it is the diesel that is outstanding. Pity that most buyers will dismiss it because it is such a powerful performer and so easy to drive quickly - and economically. The C180 and C350 weren’t available to test. On drives through Victoria’s Otway mountain range and along the Great Ocean Road, the Coupe showed confident road holding and a compliant ride from a very rigid chassis.
MERCEDES-BENZ C-CLASS COUPE
Price: $58,900 (C180); $69,900 (C250 and C250CDI); $99,900 (C350); $154,800 (C63 AMG)
Warranty: 3-years/100,00km, roadside assist
Service interval: 15,000km/12 months
Engine: (C250) 1.8-litre, 4-cyl turbocharged petrol, 150kW/310Nm
Body: 2-door coupe
Transmission: 7-speed auto, rear drive
Thirst: 7.0L/100km , 95 RON, CO2 163g/km
"New star combines frugal engineering with sleek styling. C250 the one to watch''
OTHERS TO CONSIDER
AUDI A5 2.0TFSI
Rating: 3.5 stars
Engine: 2.0-litre, 4-cyl turbo-petrol, 132kW/320Nm
Transmission: CVT auto, front drive
Body: 2-door coupe
Thirst: 7.1L/100km, 95 RON, CO2 167g/km
"Well matched rival to Merc loses a bit of gloss with this engine''
BMW 325i COUPE
Rating: 4 stars
Engine: 2.5-litre, 6-cyl, petrol, 160kW/250Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto, rear drive
Body: 2-door coupe
Thirst: 8.3L/100km, 95 RON, CO2 194g/km
"Bigger engine - and price - is more for performance seekers. Diesels better value''
VOLVO C70 T5
Rating: 3 stars
Engine: 2.5-litre, 5-cyl turbo-petrol, 169kW/320Nm
Transmission: 5-speed auto, front drive
Body: 2-door coupe-convertible
Thirst: 9.8L/100km, 95 RON, C02 234g/km
"Actually a convertible. Beautiful styling looks better with roof up''