Mercedes: C-Class shot aims to entice

By Jacqui Madelin

The C-Class Coupe imparts a whiff of sporting appeal which the sensible sedan lacks. Photo / Jacqui Madelin
The C-Class Coupe imparts a whiff of sporting appeal which the sensible sedan lacks. Photo / Jacqui Madelin

This C-Class coupe fires the second salvo from a double-barrel shotgun aimed at widening Mercedes' appeal, the first barrel supplied by the E-Class Coupe that shares many of this car's underpinnings.

What's new

Not the rear-wheel-drive platform, the five engines it shares with other Mercedes cars, the transmissions or the fuel-saving devices. But the handsome new body imparts a whiff of sporting appeal which the more sensible sedan lacks.

We get the 1.8-litre 115kW/250Nm and 150kW/310Nm turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engines, the 2.1-litre 150kW/500Nm twin-turbo diesel, a 3.5-litre 225kW/370Nm naturally aspirated six-cylinder petrol and the 6.2-litre 336kW/600Nm eight-cylinder AMG all mated to a seven-speed auto.

The company line

Mercedes-Benz New Zealand general manager Coby Duggan says: "The new-generation C-Class sedan has been exceptionally well received, so the timing of the Coupe's arrival is perfect as it will broaden the appeal of the range."

Duggan set a price range from $69,900 for the C180 CGI through to $168,900 for the C63 AMG range-topper that arrives next month. He forecasts 60 to 70 Coupe sales this year, provided global demand doesn't cut his allocation.

What we say

The Coupe's cabin will be familiar to anyone who's driven a C-Class, with one exception: the limitations imparted by that swooping roofline. The front seat adjusts super-low to impart a sporty driving position and accommodate taller drivers. But the seats out back, albeit comfy, will only carry two shorter folk - at 1.66m in height my head brushed the ceiling, and despite front seats that automatically slide forward to ease entry and egress, the process is never elegant.

But the 250CDI BlueEffiency car I tried was otherwise impressive, the cream-and-black leather interior looked smart and was well laid out; the COMAND display with its voice control and Bluetooth easy to use; the whole car effortless to live with.

On the road

My test car was the 250CDI BlueEfficiency AMG Sport Coupe, sampled on UK roads before its NZ arrival. This engine's a goody with lots of grunt, and although the 500Nm torque peak arrives over a narrow rev band (1600-1800rpm) it doesn't drop off in a hurry. The seven-speed auto makes the most of it to guarantee strong off-the-line punch plus refined cruising.

You'll only notice this is a compact four-cylinder if you insist on holding the revs, but why would you when there's this much torque to play with?

The C250CDI gets the Dynamic Handling package, which delivers a taut and predictable response that feels subtly more sporting than the sedan on which it's based. Yet ride isn't compromised - the set-up absorbing the worst of the bumps and jolts a UK country road can offer, and believe me, they get lurid.

Why you'll buy one

You want a classy coupe with a responsive chassis and comfy ride along with frugal delivery.

Why you won't

Forget the hype - you pay extra for the smartest tech: $1100 for the reversing camera that offsets a coupe's less effective rear view, plus $1800 for keyless start for all but C63 buyers, and even they spend $4600 to get the full driving-assistance package.

- Herald on Sunday

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