Speed and styling put Merc C Class Coupé out on its own
Latest model is spacious and delivers impressive level of ride comfort
Model: C-Class coupe
Date Reviewed: November 18, 2015
We put the striking new C Class Coupé through its paces at its European launch centre in southern Spain to find out if it drives as well as it looks.
With the BMW 4 Series and Audi A5 squarely in its sights, the C Class Coupé’s exterior styling is critical. Coupés are bought predominantly on looks and from most angles the new coupé is a handsome car. It is the rear end of the four-seater that is a bit of a surprise, as it looks more like a fastback than coupé. Mercedes- Benz describes the car’s overall look as “one-piece”.
While not quite reminiscent of a rear-ended CLS, the car’s rear at times reminded us of a Laguna Coupé. Side-on from the roofline to the bumper there are even hints of Porsche 911 lines.
The new coupé is 95mm longer and 40mm wider. The ride height is lowered by some 15mm (relative to the saloon) and it now sits on 17in wheels as standard. The new shape is exceptionally slippery with a drag coefficient of just 0.26 and this, coupled with more efficient engines, has reduced fuel consumption across the range by up to 20 per cent.
The basis for the coupé is the excellent C Class saloon. The two-door is expected to make a small percentage of C Class sales in a full year (about 200 coupés, 700 saloons and 50 estates) but the niche player is an important one for a brand that wants to reduce its buyers’ age profiles.
The two-door CLK was a big hit during the boom years but despite this the last generation coupé was a relative sales flop – despite looking very sleek. We have waited more than 18 months for a replacement and the new car does not disappoint. It has more interior space, thanks mainly to a longer wheelbase (+80mm) and, with new suspension, it delivers a level of ride comfort that is impressive.
The standard “Agility Control” suspension sees a new four-link front-axle set-up that is more sensitive to steering input. Mercedes says the rear multilink suspension ensures straight-line stability and we have to agree, as the range of coupés we tested were composed at all speeds and on a variety of surfaces.
As you would expect in a premium coupé you can adjust the car’s driving characteristics via electronics with the press of a rolling switch. The standard fit “Dynamic Select” features self-explanatory Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual modes.
Inside, the cabin is spacious upfront. There is seating for four but it is pretty poor in the rear, as anyone above 5ft 8in will soon find out. Coupé doors tend to be long and, as a result, safety-belt mounts get anchored almost out of reach; conveniently, the coupé’s safety belt is delivered to the top of your shoulder via a motorised extending lever. The cabin is well executed and the new integral sports seats are supportive. There are a few new optional toys to play with including a head-up display.
That said, manufacturers could do a better job in how they name and describe their devices/safety options as even hardened journalists can find it tricky to know the difference between Pre-Safe Brake, Brake Assist Plus and Pre-Safe Plus.
C Class Coupé power, for now, is delivered to the rear wheels. All-wheel drive “4Matic” coupés are due later in 2016 and will feature the new 9G-Tronic auto gearbox as standard. This is available from launch on certain higher specced coupés and as is also on the options list.
Fast, smooth gear changes are effortless. The gearbox can also skip multiple gears when downshifting. Steering-mounted paddle shifts add to the driver-focused experience.
In between testing the coupé range on the road, we took to the stunning Ascari race circuit in the range-topping C63 AMG “S” – which has 510hp on tap plus 700nm of torque. The 4-litre biturbo V8-engined car pulled like a pack of young springer spaniels on a short lead. The impressive selectable driving mode settings made life very easy behind the wheel and allowed those of us with modest talent to go really fast.
The addition of an electronic limited-slip differential on the rear axle, the longer wheelbase coupled with the AMG Coupé’s wider front and rear track makes the car very forgiving when cornering. While the car has enough power to swap ends in an instant, one could really enjoy feeling the precise level of power the rear wheels were putting down.
Sport + and the Race mode are the two fun settings you can select when you wish to blow off the cobwebs. Sport + is the ideal setting to go quickly as it helps to avoid acceleration-induced drifting.
It seems strange that you can choose from two beefy C63 AMG Coupés. One is tamer (relatively speaking) with less power (476hp), a mechanical limited-slip differential and smaller brakes (€106,000), while the other is the stunning €116,000 “S” we tested. Why anyone would want less power – let alone stopping power – is beyond us.
In the “S” 0-100km/h takes just 3.9 seconds and as you might guess the beast falls into a high CO2 bracket for tax (band E) with 200g CO2. It does feature engine stop/start technology and can return a fuel consumption figure of 8.6l/100km.
The standard AMG gets an exhaust flap system to boost the note of the V8 but there is an optional performance exhaust system with three selectable flap settings.
The intoxicating and “legal” soundtrack from the four exhaust pipes reverberates in the cabin and makes a sound better than any audio system imaginable. The grin-inducing barks and over-run burbles effortlessly raise the hairs on your neck. On one motorway stretch, we spent quite some time just going up and down the gears with vigour – just to make ourselves giggle.
We also tested the C250 cdi and C300 petrol. The 2-litre, four-cylinder C300 was whisper quiet and easy to use. With 245hp and 370nm it clearly has plenty of power but will not be a big seller in Ireland and will only find a few well-heeled urban buyers.
The C250 diesel is a far more interesting machine. Only at idle and low revs do you feel the diesel engine through the accelerator, but at speed the car impresses with a whopping 500nm of torque and a healthy 204hp.
Mercedes-Benz says it has added more than €5,000 of additional equipment as standard (leather upholstery, heated front seats, satellite navigation, Parktronic parking assistance and LED static lights).
The volume seller will be the C220 diesel. PCP is expected to be very popular with buyers. Mercedes Benz in Ireland came late to the party with its PCP Star Finance package but to date (since October) PCP has taken a 64 per cent share of finance and is offered on new and used cars (up to three registration plates old).
The C Class Coupé arrives in showrooms this December and the C range will be complete this summer when the Cabriolet comes to market in June.