What is it?
The new Mercedes C-Class Coupe is more than just a three-door version of the C-Class saloon, that’s for sure. This sporting take on Merc’s staple compact executive shares only its wings and bonnet with the saloon and gets a different take on the multi-link front suspension set-up, 15mm lowered ride height and tweaked steering software. It’s also the first car in its class to offer adaptive air suspension, albeit as an £895 option that was included on our test car.
The question is, does this sleek new coupe live up to its sports car billing even when fitted with the twin-turbocharged 2.1-litre diesel and new nine-speed automatic gearbox, or is this sensible yet popular variant all style and no substance?
What’s it like?
It’s really very good – substantially sharper overall than the saloon. Sure, it’s not a car that feels overtly pointy and eager the minute you set off; rather, it feels quite calm, yet connected enough through the noticeably improved steering to satisfy in the everyday muddle of busy town or motorway commuting.
The new auto is another notable improvement over the seven-speeder that you still currently get with the C 250 d saloon. Step-off is smooth and progressive, and shifts are blurred well even in vigorous driving, letting you make the most of the gruff-sounding but impressively gutsy diesel. Give it everything and you get a pause on kickdown and a slight shunt on upshifts, but it still shifts crisply and when you want it to, even if resorting to the paddles is still the more rewarding way to go in faster stuff.
There’s a real bite to the front end; it feels incisive as you turn in and the steering delivers a really nice, organic build-up of resistance through the corner. It’s not as darty-feeling as the quicker rack in a BMW 4 Series, but you could argue that the slower, more natural feel of the Merc is the more rewarding set-up.
The optional air springs of our car, mated to the standard 18in alloys, did a fine job, too. Body control is a touch ponderous at times, but generally the car is well tied down and keeps itself in check even through tight cornering, while the ride is mostly very good. It’ll shudder and bob about a bit over really scruffy stuff, but generally it softens even high-speed intrusions and is a settled, comfortable cruiser.
You’re unlikely to be disappointed with the interior, either. New sports seats are supportive and comfortable and include adjustable lumbar support as standard even in base Sport trim, while the dash looks smart with a tactile blend of materials and finishes. Some might not like the way the 7.0in colour screen looks tacked on rather than integrated, and the system takes some getting used to with its overly complex menus and controls, but the graphics are crisp and you’ve got all the functionality you could want, including sat-nav, Bluetooth, DAB and full connectivity for your phone or MP3 player.
It’s a bit of a squeeze to get in the back, but nothing unusual by the standards of this class, and once you’re in, there’s enough head and leg room for an average-sized adult to be comfortable even on longer journeys – certainly usefully better than in an Audi A5, and about on a par with a BMW 4 Series. There are only two seats in the back, though, and it’s rather dark back there, but for anyone looking at a mid-sized coupe, this is likely to be more than practical enough for the occasional journey four up.
The boot is similarly fit for purpose, stretching back a long way and offering plenty enough space for the obligatory set of golf clubs.
Should I buy one?If you’re in the market for a plush diesel coupe, this should be top of your shortlist. There’s clearly strong competition from the likes of the BMW 4 Series, but the Merc is competitively priced and generously equipped, and in many ways there’s more charm and sense of involvement to the way it goes down the road than you get from the slightly more heavy-handed, albeit still thoroughly enjoyable 4 Series.
We’ll have to wait to find out how standard suspension fares on UK roads, but anyone buying in this class shouldn’t make a decision without first sampling the C-Class.
Mercedes-Benz C 250 d Coupe AMG Line
Location Malaga; On sale Now; Price £37,615; Engine 4 cyls, 2143cc, turbodiesel; Power 201bhp at 3800rpm; Torque 369lb ft at 1600-1800rpm; Gearbox 9-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1645kg; Top speed 153mph; 0 62mph 6.7sec; Economy 67.3mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 109g/km, 19%
What is it?