Good to drive, but carries over the flaws of the old Sports Coupe

What is it?

Mercedes’ slightly offbeat Sports Coupe might not have sent our pulses racing, but it has reportedly done a better job of introducing new buyers to the brand than the A and B-class.

So it’s little surprise that while Merc would like us to believe that the CLC is a brand new successor to the old oddball, it’s actually more of a hefty reskin, on the old chassis.

The 220 CDI tested here will be one of the cornerstones of the range; this engine has accounted for 27 per cent of Sports Coupe sales, after all. In its latest guise the 220 CDI has 148bhp and 251lb ft, while returning 47.9mpg (combined) and 156g/km of CO2.

What’s it like?

The four-pot diesel delivers performance that always errs towards ‘smooth’ rather than ‘rapid’. The engine has been tuned for a wide, linear spread of torque and it delivers that, though not without letting you know about it at higher revs.

But that relaxed delivery also means you don’t get a slug of diesel shove. It never feels that quick.

That’s not to say there isn’t pleasure to be had from the CLC; its six-speed gearbox is slick enough and there’s the variable-ratio steering, as seen on the new SLK, which is effective. But this is still a car that’s more comfortable cruising on motorways; body control is too easily unsettled on poorer surfaces or where rapid changes of direction are required.

These old traits, the hit-and-miss restyling and an interior that is clearly still derivative make the CLC a car that feels like it’s been created over another, instead of on a blank sheet of paper.

Should I buy one?

It is a reasonable package, so if it appeals to you, then yes. Over the next few years it would be a surprise if the CLCs sales figures didn’t match those of its predecessor. But does it deserve more than that? No.

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