There are coupe people, and then there are sedan people, the latter of which prefer four doors for the sake of practicality and interior space. Coupes on the other hand are hardly practical. Some would even call it a burden. You see, as a result of a coupe’s general shape with a sloping roof and shortened pillars, the rear seats become small and hard to get into, and headroom suffers as well.
I’m not sure if the mythical “insurance premium” for a coupe is true or not, but I can tell you is that coupes generally cost more than their four-door counterparts. So why do people even bother with these two-doors specimens if they’re more expensive, have less interior space, and fit less people?
The simple answer is because they look downright sexy. Just take a look at the market: the Cadillac ATS Coupe, BMW 4 Series, and Audi A5 Coupe – all three of these coupes have highly desirable shapes, appealing curves, and brand heritage. One of the newer and more popular examples roaming the streets however is the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe.
Now in its second generation, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe is larger than its predecessor in almost every dimension despite being 50 kg lighter, and also receives a prominent revamp to its sheetmetal and cabin layout. The base model, the C 300, has some great bodylines that are well groomed and proportioned. It’s certainly tamer than the outgoing model, favouring a less aggressive demeanor with one that is more expressive.
In fact, the front end of the Coupe is pretty much identical to the Sedan with its oval shaped grill, bulbous hood and curvy LED headlights, but the rear, well, I’m not quite sure what happened there. Rather than sporting the vertical taillights found in Mercedes-Benz sedans, the Coupe partakes in a horizontal light design. The rear character lines are distinctive but I can’t seem to shake the thought of it looking like a Honda Accord’s derriere.
The optional Sport Package ($2,000) is highly recommended here to liven up the sheetmetal with some pugnacity. It equips the C 300 with a diamond front grill with chrome pins, front spoiler, rear diffuser, aggressive rear bumper with side outlets, alluring 18-inch AMG wheels, a flat bottom steering wheel and stainless steel pedals.
Overall, I’m indifferent about Coupe’s visage. I still think the Sedan is warmer to the eyes but then again, looks are subjective. What I’m sure we can all agree on are the glorious 19-inch AMG shoes on our tester ($1,000) and majestic Brilliant Blue paint ($890) that was also draped on the Mercedes-AMG GT we tested earlier this year.
The interior is almost identical to the Sedan as well, which isn’t a bad thing. High quality buttons, knobs, and machined Burmester speaker covers have trickled down from the S-Class mothership, and it’s a nice place to spend some time in. I wouldn’t say it’s more practical or ergonomic than the outgoing model, but it’s cleaner for sure.
The signal stalk to the left of the steering wheel has moved back upwards to its normal position, and the gear shifter has now been morphed and relocated to the steering column, like those stalks you would find in trucks and minivans. It opens up a lot of free space in the center, though Mercedes-Benz went all form over function and doesn’t leave much storage space for users, just a pretty stack of buttons, clocks, and an awkward flip-open cubby.
The new pop-out 8.4-inch infotainment screen isn’t very well integrated into the dash either and appears like an afterthought, and after witnessing the magic from the E-Class’s widescreen cockpit, this one just looks out of place.
And the worst parts about the Coupe are those rear seats. Legroom is poor and headroom is atrocious but if this comes as a surprise to you, what did you really expect? If rear seat space is a concern of yours, get the four-door.
On the bright side, the Coupe’s rear seats can be folded down in a split 40/20/40 fashion for a continuous pass-through into the trunk for hauling larger items like golf bags and skis. Accessibility to the rear is also made easy by front seats that not only move forward, but upwards electrically for a larger entry portal.
But enough about the aesthetics, let’s talk about how the C 300 Coupe drives. Those who have driven the first-generation C-Class Coupe will remember that it wasn’t exactly fun. Sure it was comfortable, rigid, and had good body control but it was far from exciting, something that the rivaling BMW 4 Series had aced in spades.
This time around, the C 300 has been livened up with a quicker steering rack that carries an eagerness to rotate back to the center, something that its predecessor was sorely lacking. It makes the C 300 react more responsively, turn-in is much quicker and more sensitive to input, and overall gives the Coupe more of a sporting feel.
The suspension has also been retuned, with an optional AIRMATIC air suspension ($1,800) that we highly recommend for those who are picky about ride quality and want a slightly “sportier” ride. It allows you to adjust the firmness of the suspension. Comfort Mode is soft and compliant but if you want to tighten it up so it doesn’t drive like an unwieldy boat, then you can hit Sport+ Mode and keep it taut and flat around hard corners.
AIRMATIC also allows you to manually raise or lower the vehicle for better ground clearance, but I never found much use for it. The C 300 Coupe doesn’t sit very low to the ground to warrant its necessary use anyways, and I never found myself hauling a heavy load of groceries in the trunk either. The only benefit I found was that it hunkers down and lower its suspension at higher speeds for improved aerodynamics and better fuel economy.
The engine found in the C 300 is a 2.0-litre turbo-four that we’ve also seen in the E 300. It delivers 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque and does quite a good impression of a V6. Power is aplenty, especially when juiced up in Sport+ mode. There’s a convincing howl when throttling up but it’s not a hard revver. The C 300 instead prefers smooth acceleration, though it’s not afraid to ruffle its feathers when asked to.
The four-cylinder is mated to Mercedes-Benz’s in-house 7-speed automatic transmission and not the new 9-speed, which is a shame. The 7-speed is a bit sluggish and would clunk and jerk during hard high revving shifts.
The C 300 is just begging for that ultra quick and refined 9-speed that we had a chance to experience in the new E 300, and is also found in the more powerful Mercedes-AMG C 43 just up the ladder. On the bright side, the C 300 comes standard with all-wheel drive (no RWD is available unless you opt for the C 63 AMG), and should heavily appeal towards Canadian buyers looking for an all-season daily driver.
The C 300 is a phenomenal luxury coupe but it will bite if you’re not careful with the extra options. The starting price for one of these babies is $48,100 but once you load it with all of its tempting delicacies, you can be staring at a price tag north of $60k.
Be that as it may, the C 300 doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel, Apple CarPlay, or Mercedes-Benz’s smooth 9-speed transmission. It’s still not very sporty to drive either despite their best efforts with an adjustable air suspension, quicker steering rack, and beefier engine.
The BMW 4 Series is the better driver’s coupe with its free-revving inline engines, telepathic gearboxes, and redline exhaust farts, but where the C 300 has it beat is with its compliant ride and interior refinement. It’s better suited as a long distance cruiser, the interior has a worthier sense of occasion, and its sheetmetal emerges as more mature and colourful. As long as you’re careful with the options list (which is like trying to restrain a child in a candy store), the C 300 Coupe is a smartly packaged vehicle for those who enjoy luxury with only two doors.