By ditching the window mounted within the tailgate, the new Mercedes also suffers from poor rearward visibility, leading to a decision to equip all UK-bound models with parking sensors as standard.
The interior is not much chop, either. Brought over from the C-class Sports Coupé, it looks and feels dated next to the fine cabins of the CLC’s main rivals, the Audi A3 and BMW 1-series, with an old fashioned design and hard plastic trim that don’t have any place in a car that starts at £19,920 and rises to a cool £27,420.
At least the instruments and seats are up to Mercedes’s traditionally high standards. As is the optional equipment list, which includes the latest version of its Comand navigation and entertainment system, a full-length glass roof, bi-Xenon headlamps and, depending on the model, a seven-speed automatic gearbox with shift paddles.
When it goes on sale here in June, the CLC will come with the choice of six engines, ranging from the 122bhp turbocharged 2.1-litre four-cylinder common rail diesel in the base CLC200 CDI through to a 272bhp 3.5-litre V6 petrol unit in the top-of-the-range CLC350 driven here.
The latter has been brought over from the C-class Sports Coupé without change; it still throws out 258lb ft of torque at 2400rpm, making it terrifically punchy down low. But without the changes brought to the same engine found in the recently facelifted SLK, it doesn’t rev with the same enthusiasm as the 3.0-litre six-cylinder in the BMW 130i, feeling and sounding strained from 6000rpm onwards.
Dynamically, the CLC has taken a welcome step forward from the car it replaces through the adoption of a new variable-rate steering rack first introduced to the facelifted SLK earlier this year. It provides a more direct feel and sharper responses, with added weighting and greater self-centering.
The suspension has also undergone changes, with stiffened components bringing a sportier slant to the handling, although it comes at the expense of the car’s customary compliance.
Should I buy one?
If you have no issues with a Mercedes coupé that is based around ageing mechanicals but boasts the exterior style of its latest models, then yes. The CLC is competent dynamically, and to many will be a desirable car.
It’s hard to say how people will react to the new CLC’s links to the old C-class, but if recent history is anything to go by, the CLC should find more than its fair share of admirers in the UK.