First DriveBalances sensible running costs and fair practicality with an enjoyable drive and healthy desirability factor
First DriveAMG chassis modifications raise the Mercedes C-class coupe’s dynamic appeal, but it deserves a better engine
What is it?
This is the least expensive, least powerful version of the Mercedes C-class Coupe, which comes with a 1.8-litre petrol engine serving a relatively modest 154bhp, and a more useful 184lb ft of torque from 1700rpm.
A six-speed manual transmission is standard, as is stop-start, which also comes with the seven speed, paddle-shift torque converter auto fitted to this test car.
The car itself is effectively a more stylish, two-door version of the C-class saloon riding on the same wheelbase, and replaces the recently deleted three-door hatch CLC coupe.
That gives Mercedes a direct rival to both the BMW 3-series coupe and the Audi A5, and a car it believes will appeal to younger buyers. And to induce them into showrooms over here, all UK C-class coupes get an AMG body kit, 18-inch alloys and a 15mm lower ride height as standard to counter the M-Sport and S-Line offerings of BMW and Audi.
What’s it like?
This is a svelte, civilised coupe whose interior is inviting even in the car’s least expensive guise. It’s very well finished, roomy up front, adequately spacious in the rear, has a decently big boot and folding rear seats.
So it’s practical, and comfortable too with excellent front seats and very impressive refinement that has the slightly unfortunate effect, in the case of this entry-level engine, of making this coupe appear rather languid.
So does the engine itself, whose slightly diesel-ish torque delivery means that there’s little point in revving it. In fact, the C180 isn’t so slow, but it’s definitely at its best as a cruiser.
The engine’s lack of truly solid shove means that the excellent chassis is rarely taxed, although you will discover satisfying chassis balance, strong grip and better-than-average steering feel.
The ride of the test car was good too, but, UK models with their lowered suspension and bigger wheels may turn turbulent. And unnecessarily so in the case of this more languid Coupe, which is not about outright dynamism, even if the excellent seven-speed auto makes the best of the engine’s efforts.
Should I buy one?
You need not much more than £2000 to turn this C180 into a C220 CDI, and if you can make the stretch, you’ll turn the least impressive C-Class Coupe in the range into the best all-rounder, the cheapest diesel version a good mix of poke, parsimony and refinement.
Low mileage drivers in less of a hurry and on a (relatively) tight budget should find the C180 acceptable, but that acceptability stems more from the excellence of the car itself rather its motor.
Mercedes C180 Coupe
Price: £30,220; Top speed: 139mph; 0-62mph: 8.8sec; Economy: 38.6mpg; Co2 157g/km; Kerb weight: 1500kg; Engine: four-cylinder, 1796cc; Power: 154bhp at 5000rpm; Torque: 184lb ft at 1600rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual