Feeling image-conscious? Then I have some good news for you. This is the new entry-level Mercedes Sports Coupé, the C160, and it costs £19,495 (£20,195 in this SE trim, which brings the obligatory alloys). That’s £1150 less than a C180 Sports Coupé and makes it, A-class aside, the cheapest Merc on sale. Oh, and badge deletion is a no-cost option.
Other than some rather cheap seat fabric, you should feel pretty happy with your purchase from behind the wheel. Don’t look over your shoulder and you could be in a C-class saloon.
The C160’s engine is the same supercharged 1796cc four-cylinder that powers the C180, C200 and C230, detuned to a rather measly 120bhp with 140lb ft of torque. It’s enough to push the car around at a reasonable rate, but despite standard sports suspension it is not a car to excite the enthusiast driver. The rest of the drive is stock C-class: overly weighty but accurate steering, undistinguished engine noise, a rubbery six-speed manual gearbox and a springy clutch.
So it’s a nice car, but the trouble is, no matter what Mercedes tells you, it isn’t a coupé and it isn’t sporty. It’s a three-door hatch with a nice badge. And it costs a ridiculous £20k. Performance isn’t everything, but with our cash we’d be spending £19,995 on a new VW Golf GTi. That way we’d get punch as well as prestige.