It’s called a Mercedes-Benz C230 Kompressor Sports Coupé SE, but you can forget the ‘sports’ bit. Though more agile and a better steer than the saloon, this C-class is not sporty. Fast, solid, grippy, good-looking, economical, well-made and comfortable it may be – add ‘expensive’ to that list, too – but not ‘sporty’. It’s not a coupé, either.
What it is, in this newly facelifted form, is a desirable and handsome upmarket hatch. And it had better be way, way upmarket at this price: £28,870 for the test car, which includes £1750 for the ‘Evolution Panorama’ package, giving you a full-length glass sunroof and 17in alloys, among other goodies. Then there’s £1250 for leather seats, and £1000 for bits and pieces like automatic windscreen wipers and a CD changer in the glovebox. Base price is a hefty £24,210 – that’s £5000 too much.
If you can forget that shocking price tag – £28,870 for a 1.8-litre hatch! – the car is excellent. The front bumper and grille are reshaped and improved, and the interior gets new switches, seats and trim. Mercedes seems to have responded well to criticism of the C’s interior quality. This car is solidly built, with fine attention to detail – a great place to be and a proper Mercedes.
On the road, the first impression is one of genuine refinement and quietness. The ride isn’t quite as polished as it should be, lacking subtlety, but it’s comfortable, and the steering is typically solid, meaty Merc: not much feel, but you don’t miss it.