From £15,285
Not a coupé, nor very sporty, the C160 is a pleasant prestige hatch but at £20k it costs more than the 200bhp Golf GTi.

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz C-Class

The Mercedes C-Class marks a return to the company's old-school values of all-round quality and maturity

17 June 2005

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.Alastair Clements

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