Mercedes-Benz C Class Coupe (2015 - ) review
The latest Mercedes C-Class coupe takes all that is good about the saloon, and wraps it in a gorgeous new exterior. It also drives better than its humdrum sibling. We test it in the UK.
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The Mercedes C-Class is already one of the best-looking compact saloons on market, so it's no surprise that removing two doors and adding a steeply raked roofline has boosted its kerb appeal even further. This really is a fantastic looking car for the money, and we're sure some image conscious buyers will be sold on the looks alone. Unlike the saloon, even entry-level models come with 17-inch wheels, electrically folding mirrors, intricate LED head lamps and lowered suspension to give it a more aggressive stance. The AMG Line version is even more aggressive, with 18-inch wheels, beefier brakes, a sporty body kit and a '3D' effect grille which looks like it came straight from a motor show concept car. It's one of those cars which will have you staring longingly over your shoulder at it as you walk away on a regular basis, and it's hard to give a slinky coupe a bigger compliment on its exterior then that.
The good news is that the interior has just as much wow-factor as the outside. All versions have dense-feeling materials, spiced up by plenty of metallic and piano black or wood inserts, and the simple, clutter-free design looks cool and makes things appear even more sophisticated. The standard sports seats are comfortable, supportive and will accommodate all shapes and sizes of driver, and are upholstered in a hard-wearing artificial leather. The minimalist layout does mean that most functions have to be controlled via the infotainment system, and we have some gripes with the standard issue screen. It's mounted high up the dash, which makes it easy to read, but doesn't look especially discreet. Secondly, while controlling the various functions is easy enough if you only use the rotary controller, you also get a touch pad, which can be used both like a laptop track pad to pinch and zoom maps, or to write out letters and numbers for the sat-nav or your phone book. It sounds good in theory but its positioning is awkward and in reality it’s much more of a faff to use on the move. The visibility doesn't suffer too much as a result of the smaller rear window, but we're glad that Mercedes has included a reversing camera as standard - it's a life-saver when parking up.
This is another area where the C-Class coupe feels well designed. The cabin is dotted with deep pockets for storing loose items when you're on the move. The door bins are sculpted to take a couple of cans or bottles, the glove box is generous, and your wallet, keys and other paraphernalia will all find a home up front without it feeling cluttered. Accessing the rear seats is easy enough, and if you go for the optional memory pack then the front seats will slide gracefully forward, allowing you to step in without too much contortion. Headroom is naturally a little tighter than in the saloon, but adults can still sit comfortably, and knee room is better than on many rivals. The rear seats also split/fold if you want to carry flat objects, and there is a ski hatch for more awkward, longer items. The loading bay is a useful shape, but with only 400-litres of space available, it's smaller than the 450-litres you get in an Audi A5 or a BMW 4 Series. It'll be fine for most people's needs - but fitting two sets of golf clubs or a buggy might be a bit of a push - so check it its roomy enough for you before you buy.
Ride and handling
Most buyers would (quite rightly) expect any coupe worth its salt to handle with more finesse than its four-door sibling, and thanks to a few key changes, that holds true for the C-Class. It has recalibrated steering which is heavier and quicker than in the saloon, which makes it feel more precise and allows you to take advantage of the grippy rear-wheel drive chassis. The coupe feels stable and composed, with decent body control (thanks to the lowered springs) and it changes direction well. Ride comfort is on the firm side though, especially on the AMG Line models and those on larger alloy wheels, so the optional air suspension, which adjusts the firmness of the dampers depending on what mode you're in, is a worthwhile investment. With the air springs fitted the C-Class is a consummate motorway cruiser, and arguably more comfortable than any of its premium rivals. Without it however, you'll feel the wheels picking up any small bumps or imperfections in the road surface, which makes the car less relaxing in town, and can even cause it to become unsettled over mid-corner bumps.
The C-Class features a trimmed down range of engines carried over from the saloon range, with a pair of brawny 2.1-litre diesels, the C220d and C250d likely to make up the bulk of the sales. Both feel flexible and provide decent in-gear performance, and while the 250d feels noticeably faster, the 220d will never leave you feeling shortchanged. Still, neither engine is especially refined, and they sound especially gruff when cold or put under heavy strain. Those after a smoother experience might opt for the 181bhp C200 2.0-litre petrol, or even the 241bhp C300 for more serious performance, with the latter reaching 0-62mph in just six seconds. True enthusiasts will probably be more interested in the C63 and C63 S AMG versions though, which feature a blisteringly quick 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and fall either side of the 500bhp mark. Some models feature a six-speed manual gearbox, but it's not the transmission we'd recommend, as the optional nine-speed automatic is wonderfully smooth, managing the changes with barely a break in the power delivery. It's not quite as impressive when you switch to using the steering wheel mounted paddles for manual changes, but in the sportiest AMG versions you get a tougher seven-speed transmission instead, which is quicker at banging home the ratios when you're driving at speed.
As you might expect from such a broad engine range, there is a fairly wide spread of running costs for the C-Class Coupe. The cheapest models to run will be the pair of diesels, with the cleanest being the entry-level C220d. According to the official figures it'll return 68.9mpg on the combined cycle and (on the smallest 17-inch alloy wheels) emits just 106g/km of CO2. The quicker C250d is only slightly thirstier, so the penalty to pay for the added performance is relatively minor, however the petrol C200 and C300 will cost you more to tax and fuel. It should go without saying that the C63 AMG models are both vastly more expensive to buy, run and insure, with low twenties fuel economy a daily reality. In general the C-Class coupe is a little more expensive than its rivals, but also comes better equipped as standard.
Mercedes as a brand currently sits in a disappointing, lowly place in Warranty Direct’s manufacturer standings for reliability, well inside the bottom half of the table. Still, that puts it right alongside most of its premium rivals, with the cost and frequency of repairs both being enough to upset the driver's who were surveyed. However, as an individual model, the C-Class doesn’t do too badly at all, and our owner reviews on www.autotrader.co.uk support that, with the previous car being widely praised. As standard the coupe comes with a three-year warranty that covers you for up to 100,000 miles, but bear in mind that any repairs that are needed outside the usual switching of oil and filters will be comparatively expensive. It should also benefit from following the C-Class saloon, as any early kinks or problems with the engines or electronics should have all been identified and dealt with by now.
Just like the four-door saloon, the slinkier C-Class comes with an extensive roster of safety equipment that includes a system to warn you if you're getting too tired to drive, another that will brake automatically at low speeds if it senses an impending collision, and a bonnet that pops-up to protect any unfortunate pedestrians you happen to accidentally run over. The saloon received the coveted five star rating from crash testing body Euro NCAP, and with cruise control, a reversing camera, seven airbags and tyre pressure monitors also thrown in, the standard kit list is more than enough. Still, if you do want an extra layer of electronics to keep you secure, then you can add any number of them, including lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and a set of 360 degree cameras to make you a parking maestro.
There are two trim levels to choose from in the C-Class coupe, but both come generously equipped. The standard Sport models have sat-nav, DAB digital radio, rain sensing wipers brilliant LED headlights, cruise control, a reversing camera, faux leather heated sports seats, and plenty of other goodies. Choose the AMG Line model and you'll also be treated to a flat-bottomed steering wheel, attractive black ash wood trim on the dashboard, a lowered sports suspension setup, unique grille and sporty body kit. The options list is extensive, but you can ease the financial burden slightly by picking one of the packages on offer. The Premium pack adds ambient lighting, memory electric seats, keyless entry and start, a powered boot lid and panoramic glass sunroof. The Premium Plus pack goes one set further, and includes the excellent Burmester stereo and upgraded COMAND online infotainment system. Even if you don't decide to go the whole hog on the premium plus pack, we would strongly advise getting the slicker entertainment system and larger screen, it's a worthwhile investment.
If you want a luxurious coupe that exudes class and sophistication - rather than pursuing sporty driving above all else - then the C-Class is well worth considering. It looks great on the outside, it feels great on the inside, and its efficient engines, smooth auto gearbox and impressive adaptive suspension make it fun and relaxing to drive in equal measure. Only its slightly small boot and relatively high price stop us from crowning this a clear class leader.