The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Mercedes CLC is a great introduction to the brand. It’s luxurious, offers good value for money and is a credible high-speed cruiser.
Reasons to buy:
- Competent cruiser
- Good value
- Premium interior
How good does it look?
The pretty Mercedes CLC looks virtually identical to the Mercedes C-Class in front of the windscreen, but it’s the rear half which will appeal to coupe buyers. The sides rise along the car, which gives it a rakish appearance but means the rear screen is small, limiting visibility. The rear lights aren’t as easy on the eye as they are on its Sports Coupe predecessor either.
What's the interior like?
The interior is the usual high-quality affair we’ve come to expect from Mercedes, with uncluttered buttons and switches and clear instrumentation. The trip computer takes a little getting used to, with its scrolling buttons placed on the steering wheel; however the information displayed is comprehensive. Drivers may also find the single stalk control tricky to get used to – it operates the indicators, wipers and some lighting functions, although after a week with the car, it became second nature. The same goes for the foot-operated parking brake.
How practical is it?
The Mercedes CLC might only boast luggage space of 310 litres, rising to 1,100 with the seats folded, but the hatchback bootlid arrangement means access is very good. By comparison the Mercedes C-Class saloon offers 475 litres, but the seats don’t fold. There’s a good amount of space in the front and back – considering it’s a coupe – but rear headroom suffers slightly. The biggest issue is visibility, particularly through the rear window, but also around the rear three-quarters; something which was hampered further by the optional dark tinted glass fitted to our test car.
What's it like to drive?
With its variable-ratio steering, the Mercedes CLC’s turn-in feels artificial and inert, offering little genuine feedback through the bends. The CLC certainly lacks the dynamism and poise of other Mercedes coupes, but does offer lots of grip during cornering. The ride is almost sportscar-firm, hampered by the big 18-inch alloys with low-profile 35-section tyres fitted to our car, which is odd for something which feels more a high-speed cruiser than b-road bruiser.
How powerful is it?
We tested the 2.1-litre CLC 220 CDI, which offers a disappointing 150bhp and 250lb/ft of torque. The engine is also louder than we’ve become accustomed to for the latest generation of diesel powerplants. A 122bhp version of the same engine is also available in the CLC 220 CDI which takes more than 11 seconds to reach 62mph. The supercharged 1.8-litre CLC 180 Kompressor produces 184bhp for a mid-eight second dash, while the CLC 200 Kompressor’s 2.5-litre engine develops 204bhp for a near-identical 0-62mph time. The 3.5-litre CLC 350 pushes out 272bhp, for a 6.3 second 0-62mph time.
How much will it cost me?
The CLC is well priced, starting at £20,000 for the CLC 180K. Another £1,000 gets the entry-level diesel. Surprisingly the range topping CLC 350 comes in at under £30,000. Diesels return an average of around 49mpg, although specify an auto and consumption will increase by 5 to 6mpg. Emissions of 150-160g/km shouldn’t hurt too much when it comes to taxing. The petrols are more costly, both for fuel consumption and emissions. Insurance is higher than average for the lower powered models, but less than expected for the big-engined CLC 350.
How reliable is it?
Mercedes continues to build reliable cars, and the fact the CLC is based on the C-Class Sports Coupe should mean the mechanicals are well proven.
How safe is it?
There are no EuroNCAP crash test results, although there’s a good level of safety equipment. Adaptive driver and passenger, front side and curtain airbags, acceleration skid control, brake assist and ESP all feature as standard.
How much equipment do I get?
Two models are available in the Mercedes CLC range: SE and Sport, both available with or without a panoramic glass sunroof. SE models include electric and heated exterior mirrors, electric front windows, climate control, 16-inch alloy wheels, leather-trimmed three-spoke multi-function steering wheel, bright halogen headlamps and front fog lamps, automatic headlamps, Parktronic visual and audio front and rear park sensors, sports seats and chrome interior trim. The Sport model adds 18-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension, speed-sensitive power steering, tinted taillights, aluminium interior trim and Artico man-made leather upholstery.
The Mercedes CLC is the affordable Merc coupe. And that’s a formula that works: 77 per cent of those who bought the Sports Coupe which preceded it had never owned a Mercedes before. It might lack the dynamic sparkle of the Volkswagen Scirocco and BMW 1 Series, but the Three Pointed Star badge still shines brightly for buyers.