What is it?
Broadening the reach. That’s how Mercedes-Benz describes the move that has seen it replace the once popular CLK with not one but a pair of coupe models – both sharing the same basic underpinnings and, in part, driveline combinations.
The first of them, the E-class coupe, has been on sale here since 2009. Now, with the introduction of the smaller and more affordable C-class coupe, the second stage in the German car maker’s bid for up-market coupe dominance has been kicked into action.
Predictably, the new Mercedes-Benz coupe sits on the same rear-wheel drive platform as other C-class models. It'll be be sold with five standard engines – all of which are common across the Mercedes-Benz line-up.
All but the top two petrol engines come with a six-speed manual gearbox, although all can be optioned with a seven-speed automatic. As with the recently facelifted C-class saloon and estate, the C-class coupe also receives a range of fuel saving features, including automatic stop/start as standard.
What's it like?
Mercedes-Benz’s high output four-cylinder diesel is nicely refined and delivers loads of usable performance for its relatively small capacity. Peak torque of 369lb ft arrives on a fairly narrow brand of revs, but there’s always plenty on offer to ensure there’s no need for constant gear shuffling to keep it percolating along.
It’s at a constant motorway cruise where the C 250 CDI is at its best; with a flexible nature, an optional fast acting seven speed gearbox and superbly chosen ratios, it is endowed with a strong stream of acceleration and feels effortless up to the sort of speeds limits imposed in the UK. Its stability at high speeds is also exemplary.
It’s really only when the engine is asked to work beyond 4200rpm – the point at where maximum power is delivered, where it becomes breathless and begins to emit an annoying mechanical thrum, that you notice that there is a four cylinder sitting up front. Still, a claimed 52.3mpg means visits to the service station forecourt won’t come too regularly even if you’re prompted to work it hard.
The rest of the driving experience is very much in the mould of the C-class saloon and estate, with engaging and predictable handling traits. There is an added touch of tautness in the suspension, which uses it own unique tuning, to give the C-class coupe a slightly more sporting demenour than its four door siblings. But it is a very subtle change in character. Despite this, the ride is superb, offering great low frequency control and sufficient composure to sponge away larger potholes with authority.
The interior is impressive if familiar, offering greater quality and style than the 3-series coupe. As part of moves to cut costs and streamline production, much is shared with the C-class saloon and estate, including the new three dimensional instrument graphics.
Crucially, the driver’s seat, manually adjustable as standard, can be set low enough to provide a proper sporting driving position. But while there’s plentiful accommodation up front, the rear is quite cramped, and the narrow aperture of the rear side window makes it feel awfully enclosed. Getting into the rear seats is also quite a chore despite the inclusion of front seats that both slide and fold forward. Best to think of it more as a two-plus-two than a true four seater, then.