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Mercedes-Benz CLC 2008 Review

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When they really put their mind to it there are few who can stand beside the boys and girls from Stuttgart.

Witness the new C-Class, the glorious SL and any of AMG's mouth-watering Black Series offerings.

Yet all of those engineering and styling highpoints pale beside the sheer genius of a marketing department that can sell a superseded seven-year-old chassis as a new-generation sports coupe.

Sheer genius

According to Mercedes, the original C Coupe was slated for the bin on the arrival of the all-new C-Class sedan. What kept it alive was a compelling plea from world markets — including Australia — where the thing had continued to sell even as it aged.

That late change in plans has resulted in a new generation CLC without all the fuss and bother of actually building it up from nothing. Change the body, fix the steering and some of the ride quality and Bob's your mother's brother.

Do people buying the "new" car really care? Apparently not as it continues to sell well enough to justify its existence — 87 last month.

A key point of that is that there was nothing terribly wrong with the original Sports Coupe. It didn't ride particularly well, didn't go that hard and had abysmal vision out of the rear window.

The "new" model rides a little better, goes a little harder, looks considerably better both inside and out and somehow, the abysmal vision out of the rear window is worse.

It does, however, miss out on all the exceptionally good things athat the C-Class won — like its much tauter body, lighter suspension components and far stiffer chassis.

Pricing and fit-out

The CLC is priced from $49,990 — not bad for a chance to get that famous three-pointed star in your garage.

Standard equipment (for the $53,900 Kompressor Evolution) includes eight airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control, rear park assist, lowered sports suspension, 17-inch alloys, dual zone air conditioning, cruise control, multi-function display, sports seats with manual adjustment, rain sensing wipers, fog lamps, bi-xenon head lamps, the direct steering system, paddle shift for the automatic and full fake leather upholstery.

Driving

On the road the CLC has manners that will not offend nor scare the average driver.

You couldn't always say that about the first generation Sports Coupe.

Where the CLC did impress was in its ability to soak up the worst of Sydney's very average roads. Potholes, expansion joints and general poor surfaces did have the capacity to upset the CLC but less so than some higher priced offerings.

The 1.8-litre supercharged four-cylinder manages a reasonable 135kW of power but there ocassions when a little bit more than the 250Nm of torque would have been appreciated.

Anyone buying the CLC as a performance sports car is going to be sorely disappointed ... but I doubt few would go down that road. Most of those who buy one will have done so because of its affordability, its styling and its badge — none of which they should find cause for complaint with.

Something that should positively cheer a new owner is the real-world fuel consumption under 9 litres per 100km. Mercedes claim an 8.4 for a combined cycle and we were not far off that after a week of city living.

The cabin is fresh and reasonably generous in space, particularly in legroom for the rear passengers — something you do not find a lot of in modern coupes.

However, the shape of the CLC means that those long-legged rear passengers will find headroom a challenge.

For the front seat dwellers there is ample shoulder and headroom but the seats lack a little in side bolstering.

Another tick for the CLC is that there is actually enough space in the boot to put luggage for a weekend away or a full load of groceries.

It's not new, but it could be you. Impressively enduring.

 


CLC Sports Coupe

Price: from $49,990

Engine: 1.8L/4-cylinder supercharged; 135kW/250Nm

Transmission: 6-speed manual, 5-speed automatic, RWD

Economy: 8.4L/100km combined (supplied)

 

Pricing guides

$10,890
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$7,700
Highest Price
$14,080

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
CLC200 Kompressor 1.8L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $7,700 – 11,880 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLC-CLASS 2008 CLC200 Kompressor Pricing and Specs
CLC200 Kompressor Evolution 1.8L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $8,200 – 12,760 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLC-CLASS 2008 CLC200 Kompressor Evolution Pricing and Specs
CLC200 Kompressor Evolution + 1.8L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $9,300 – 14,080 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLC-CLASS 2008 CLC200 Kompressor Evolution + Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$7,700

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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