Mercedes lets its hair down
MERCEDES BENZ IT LIKE THE BECKHAMS WITH THESE SPORTY, ATTENTION-SEEKING COUPES
Mercedes-Benz’s new C-Class Coupe is longer, wider and lower than its four-door sedan sibling, and the result is an imposing head-turner on the road.
Though Mercedes-Benz designers may have been appropriately reserved in styling the current C-Class sedan, they have loosened-up on the C-Class Coupe.
The four coupe models have a more detailed, sportier look than the sedan, while the lower centre of gravity helps Mercedes engineers deliver a sportier feel in the cars.
Inside, drivers are welcomed by something of a floor show – as soon as you press the start button the steering wheel adjusts to your seating position, and the seatbelt is automatically lifted from its resting position and delivered to your right shoulder.
The coupe is so stylish it is being used to teach 17-year-old Brooklyn Beckham, son of retired footballer David and fashionista Posh, to drive.
With its leather seats and Artico leather-lined dashboard, the C-Class Coupe cabin provides a luxuriously comfortable sanctuary from the harsher reality of everyday life on the road.
There are three C-Class Coupe models available in New Zealand – the entry-level petrol-engined C200, the mid-range diesel-powered C250d, and the petrol-engined C300 model. A fourth and even more powerful top-of-the-line model, the C63S Coupe, arrives here later in the year.
Though previous C-Class Coupe models have differed little from their sedan counterparts, the new generation models are more distinctive from the already stylish four-door equivalent models.
They enjoy a sleeker profile, accentuated at the front by a long, sloping bonnet leading to a diamond grille. The even longer sloping roofline provides a striking side profile and more dramatic appearance.
The models have only just been released on the New Zealand and Australian markets. A weekend driving the 250d model around Melbourne and on the Mornington peninsula showed it is an attention-grabber.
Coupe models in New Zealand make up around 20 per cent of C Class sales here, they are around 50 per cent of C Class models sold in Australia.
Mercedes-Benz in New Zealand has been encouraged by initial demand for the new coupe, with dozens already having been pre-ordered.
The new models are distinct enough for Mercedes-Benz to charge a significant premium over the sedan.
The entry-level C 200 Coupe costs $77,400, which is $2500, more than the equivalent four-door sedan. For this the coupe buyer gets the AMG exterior trim, Artico leather dashboard, automatic seatbelt feeders, memory seating and a 360-degree rear view camera.
The 200 Coupe sits on 18-inch alloy wheels, and is powered by a 2-litre turbocharged engine which produces 135kW. It can travel from 0 to 100km/h in 7.3 seconds.
The 250d and 300 models sit on 19 inch alloy wheels, with the C250d costing $93,900. For this premium the buyer also gets privacy glass, black ash wood trim and other features. It’s powered by a 2.1-litre direct injection two-stage turbocharged diesel engine, producing 150kW. The diesel can travel from 0 to 100km/h in 6.7 seconds, and has a claimed fuel economy of 4.4litres/100km.
The C300 Coupe costs $97,900, and comes with a Burmester Surround Sound system, the Mercedes-Benz Command online system, an additional 25kW of power and a Sports exhaust system. This all helps ensure there is plenty of excitement-inducing pop and crackle under acceleration.
It is powered by a 2-litre turbocharged engine producing 180kW, and can travel from 0 to 100km/h in 6 seconds.
The C63S Coupe will cost $172,900, and will include AMG engine mounts, AMG Performance Exhaust and an AMG Electronic Differential. It is powered by a 4-litre V8 petrol engine, putting out 375kW. Mercedes says the car will travel from 0 to 100km/h in just 3.9 seconds.
Certainly the exhaust system on the top two models helps produce an incredible pop and crackle, leaving drivers in no doubt they are driving a sports car.
But with their lower profile and sportier lines the three coupe models all deliver a classy ride.
They feel assured, even when being pressed around sometimes narrow and windy wet roads north-west of Melbourne.
We spent most time on the test drive in the 250d model, which included a large sunroof.
Inside the car the driver sits in front of a stitched leather dashboard, with the usual Mercedes-Benz standalone screen dominant in the centre. In fact most of the cabin will be familiar to Mercedes drivers.
The push-button start sits just behind the steering wheel, with the trademark gear stick on the right-hand side of the steering column. There are paddle shifters on the steering wheel, which also has adaptive cruise control and other buttons.
There is a small but stylish analogue clock on the central panel, along with the air conditioning controls.
The seats have a memory function and are adjustable by buttons on the door panels.
Once behind the wheel the coupe is a joy to drive — there is plenty of power when it is needed, and on particularly sharp, windy roads it handles like a true sports car. Part of the drive involved winding secondary roads and wet weather, and driving at the speed limit in convoy. The coupe was able to speed through bends at speed, without any pushback or risk of overreaching its capabilities.
Access to the two rear seats is easy, with the front seats automatically moving forward to ease entry and exit.
This generation of C-Class Coupes is 95mm longer and 40 mm wider than their predecessors, and the wheelbase is 80mm longer than the previous models. As a result there is more shoulder, elbow and headroom in all four seats than in the earlier models.
The 250d has Mercedes-Benz’s 9-stage transmission, while the petrol models have seven-speed automatic transmissions. The gear changes in all models are smooth and imperceptible.
The 360-degree rear camera is one of the most practical and useful features, making it easy and safe to back out of an angle parking space. The camera pops out from behind the Mercedes-Benz star on the boot lid when reverse is engaged.
As in most coupes, rear vision otherwise is not great but the wide-angled camera goes a long way towards mitigating the problem.
The Melbourne and surrounds drive provided a good test of the gps system on the coupe. It provided timely and accurate information, even on some of the backroads in the hills leading up to the Dandenong Ranges, as well as in peak-hour traffic on the city’s highways.
The cars were head-turners even in Melbourne, a city that knows its cars and enjoys its motorsport.
MERCEDES-BENZ C-CLASS COUPE
|PROS:||Sleek, attention-grabbing profile.|
|CONS:||Too much power for learner drivers|