Entry-level diesel motor makes a lot of sense in the sleeker, two-door C-Class, which gets uprated in-cabin tech and premium extras

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It will come as no surprise that the two-door Mercedes C-Class Coupe finds itself in the minority on Britain’s roads.

Last year, Mercedes sold 8000 of the things - but managed to find homes for almost three times as many W205 Mercedes C-Class (2014-2021) saloons. We at Autocar feel that’s a shame, as with styling inspired by the significantly pricier Mercedes S-Class, the Coupé perhaps fulfils the laid-back luxury brief even better than the four-door.

The amount of aluminium-effect trim will divide opinion, but certainly makes the C-Class a more interesting place to sit

That’s especially true in this facelifted form, which is the first to use Mercedes’ entry-grade diesel engine. The all-new turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder replaces the outgoing 2.1-litre unit, gaining an extra 24bhp for a total of 191bhp.

It delivers the same 295lb ft of torque as before, but promises greater refinement and efficiency. Mercedes expects it to be the most popular choice for saloon customers, and it stands to make an impression on coupé buyers as well.

It’s tested here in sportier AMG Line trim, and with the optional Performance Plus package that adds a whole host of extras including panoramic sunroof, 12.3in digital instrument cluster, uprated stereo system and distinctive interior ambient lighting.

How does the C-Class Coupe perform on the road?

Sitting lower than the saloon and with a far sleeker chassis, the C220d certainly gives the impression of a sportier C-Class. The AMG Line trim of our test car borrows much of its styling from Affalterbach’s most potent models, although the engine badge on the swooping rear end says otherwise.

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The 2.0-litre turbodiesel is responsive enough when pushed, dispatching the 0-62mph sprint in 7.5sec, and while improved from the outgoing 2.1-litre engine, still sounds less than polished under hard acceleration.

Instead, it works best at a cruise, where it delivers relaxed and refined progress. This comes hand in hand with respectable economy for long-distance touring: we averaged 55mpg on a motorway cruise, and stop-start city driving didn’t result in a major change in consumption either.

The nine-speed automatic gearbox is at its best when left to its own devices: it can hesitate slightly on kickdown, and just isn’t as smooth as the seven-speed in the Audi A5 when trying to take manual control of the gears. With peak power and torque reached well before 4000rpm, there’s not much to be gained from higher revs, either, so there’s little incentive to override with the paddle shifts.

It rides comfortably at slower speeds, even on stiffer AMG Line suspension, dealing swifty with most imperfections, and exhibits less body roll than the entry-level saloon. Increase the pace, though, and bumps can quickly make themselves felt in the cabin.

Precision isn’t quite as high as you’ll find from a BMW 4 Series, with light, but accurate, steering. Body control is tighter in this AMG Line model than the entry-level SE model we tested earlier in the year, but this is still a C-Class, meaning it suits a more laid-back driving style.

What's the C-Class Coupe like inside?

It’s certainly appropriate for the low-slung driving position, with cosseting seats and ample space for driver and passenger. The panoramic sunroof lets in plenty of light to make it feel even more spacious than it actually is. Things are naturally more cramped in the back, where leg room is tight and adults will have a hard time sitting upright without touching the headliner, although there’s no shortage of boot space.

Interior fit and finish was already up on the rival BMW 4 Series, and while the amount of aluminium-effect trim will certainly divide opinion, it makes the C-Class a more interesting place to sit. The sheer number of buttons on the steering wheel can be a little overwhelming, however, and the materials don’t always feel as premium as they look.

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You’re well insulated from exterior noise, and what little is left is easily drowned out by the optional uprated Burmester sound system, which sounds superb.

The 12.3in digital instruments added by the near-£5000 Premium Plus option pack, while sharp, aren’t as customisable as the Virtual Cockpit found in an Audi A5. Mercedes’ rotary touchpad infotainment controls are still less intuitive than a touchscreen, too, but at least there are physical buttons for important functions like climate controls.

How does the C-Class compare to its coupe rivals?

There’s an argument that a coupé should deliver a more engaging drive the C220d does, but Mercedes has largely managed to subvert that expectation in the way it has delivered a combination of relaxed cruising, low emissions and great economy.

A lack of rear space makes it a less rational purchase than the saloon as well as a more expensive one, but only marginally so, and would be our first choice if the rear seats only plan to see occasional use.

While the rival BMW may be more spirited, a more appealing interior and comprehensive kit list in AMG Line spec make the C-Class that bit more compelling.