The Mercedes C-Class coupé is a strong contender with a character of its own

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Broadening the reach. That’s how Mercedes-Benz describes the move that has seen it replace the once popular CLK with not one but a pair of coupe models – both sharing the same basic underpinnings and, in part, driveline combinations. The E-Class coupe was introduced in 2009, and now here's the C-Class coupe.

It represents the second stage in the German car maker’s bid for up-market coupe dominance being kicked into action.

A pleasant and desirable everyday coupé but bot as precise as BMW's rival

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupé gets off to a good start as its arrivals also spells the end for the CLCa mediocre effort based on the previous C-Class.

And being given the simplest, most obvious and most descriptive name can say a lot about a car, so we’re relieved that Mercedes has gone for C-Class coupe rather than CLC, CLK or CL anything else equally confusing.

The name isn’t the only cause to think that this coupé will be something of a revelation because, in recent years, Mercedes has been producing cars that aren’t trying to feel like BMWs but are distinctly and very appealingly individual to the three-pointed star. The C-Class on which this car is based was the first of this new breed.

As well as the usual range of petrol, diesel and AMG models we’ve come to expect from a Mercedes line-up, the C-Class coupe also includes a very special Black Series model, a badge Mercedes has only endowed on three other cars before it.

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Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé profile

The C-Class coupé looks a lot like its saloon sibling. However, it is substantially different from its four-door counterpart, with a 42mm longer body overall and 41mm lower roofline. And regardless of the inevitable comparisons, this is clearly a successful design that offers all the desirability and presence that you could hope for in a Mercedes coupé.

Much of the front-end styling is shared with the saloon, including the updated headlight design. The grille is slightly different, the coupe getting two bars to the saloon’s three.

The entire C-Class coupé range gets the ‘BlueEfficiency’ tag, although. Such over-usage makes the badge next to meaningless.

One of the standout features of the classy, yet understated design is the sharp crease rising up the flanks of the car. The line created by upturned bootlid is also a nice touch, as it flows into the side panel and meets the hip line.

The C-Class coupé retains Mercedes’ traditional front-engined, rear-drive layout and the body sits on the saloon’s 2760mm wheelbase, with multi-link suspension all round and active dampers that adjust depending on driving style.

All models come as standard with the AMG Sport pack, which lowers the springs by 15mm compared with the saloon’s and brings various styling tweaks. This pack also include 18in alloys as standard, along with more aggressive looking side skirts and front apron.

Although they’re built on the same production line as the regular C-Class Coupe, the C 63 AMG and C 63 AMG Black Series’ models brim with purpose.

The most potent of the pair gets massively blistered wheelarches that hide motorsport-style coil-over suspension with adjustable dampers. The Black Series’ track is 40mm wider at the front than a ‘regular’ C 63’s (which is wider than the standard saloon in turn), and 79mm wider at the rear.


Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé dashboard

The C-Class coupé wears the same interior clothing that was gifted by Mercedes to the C-Class saloon and estate ranges in their mid-life facelift – and very impressive it is, too.

Three satin-rimmed dials dominate the central display, with a sweetly sized steering wheel in front of them. Its switches feel a touch flaky, but the wheel’s huge range of adjustment contributes to an excellent driving position.

Foot-applied, hand-released parking brake remains. Still can’t get used to it

The rest of the centre console and cabin is well finished in feelgood materials that are worthy of the C-Class coupé’s price. No model in the C-Class coupe range can be considered cheap, but the fit, finish and quality of surfaces passes muster alongside similar-priced rivals.

Its ergonomics are mostly sound, too. It’s a touch fiddly to flick all of the ventilation controls when the gearlever is in Park, and some of the audio controls take a little getting used to. But the major systems’ control knob, behind the gearlever, is pretty straightforward with familiarity. Certainly, there’s little to gripe about.

Unlike the CLC and that car’s predecessor, the Sport Coupé, this is the first C-Class-based coupé whose interior volume matches that of its rivals. It is a proper four-seater rather than a 2+2 and, to that effect, is capable of being pitched seriously alongside a BMW 3 Series coupé or Audi A5. Certainly, two adults won’t feel short changed in the back.

The boot capacity, at 450 litres, sits squarely between the BMW’s and Audi’s; there are only a few cartons of fruit juice between them. Pleasingly, even though it is only a space-saver, a spare wheel, rather than a can of foam, is standard.

Like the CLK Black Series before it, the C 63 Black Series has no rear seats.


Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé front quarter

Sitting below the most popular 168bhp 2.1-litre C 220 CDI coupé in the Mercedes C-Class coupé range is the 154bhp 1.8-litre, four-pot petrol model in the C 180, while the 201bhp 1.8 in the C 250, 302bhp 3.5 V6 in the C 350 and 451bhp 6.2-litre V8 C 63 complete the petrol line-up.

A 201bhp version of the four-cylinder turbodiesel available in the C 250 CDI for a relatively small premium over the C 220 CDI. Of course, there’s also the mighty 510bhp 6.2-litre V8 C 63 Black Series coupé at the very top of the range.

When in manual override, an extended upshift push on the gearlever reselects Drive. Nice touch

Given its relatively modest premium, you might well wonder if the C 250 CDI engine is the superior choice to the 220 because it knocks a full second off the claimed 0-62mph time, lowering it to 7.1sec, for precisely no loss of economy.

The four-pot diesel resists making excessive noise until you wind it out beyond 4000rpm, something the torque-converter automatic gearbox is disinclined to do unless you really insist. Frankly, the engine’s best work is done before then anyway, with the meat of performance coming through the mid-range.

The C 180’s slightly diesel-ish torque delivery means that there’s little point in revving it. In fact, the C 180 isn’t so slow, but it’s definitely at its best as a cruiser, something that can also be said of the C250, despite its common four-cylinder motor getting more power. And despite the brisk performance of the C 350, it’s no hot-shoe model. The engine demonstrates a remarkable calm and sophistication.

The C 63 AMG and C 63 AMG Black Series models predictably don’t share the easy-going traits of the other three engines in the line-up. The performance of the C 63 AMG is effortless, enabling it to reach seriously high speeds without seemingly drawing breath.

The Black Series feels more like a Porsche 911 GT3 RS than almost any other road-legal performance car we can think of – except super-lightweight Caterhams, Lotuses and the like.


Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé rear cornering

If, before driving the Mercedes C-Class coupé, you were asked to guess what it would be like, what would your answer be? Less overtly sporting than a BMW 3 Series coupé, yet more rewarding than the Audi A5, perhaps? Us, too. And, unsurprisingly, that’s exactly where the C-Class coupé finds itself.

Despite the AMG-badged upgrades, the C-Class coupé rides with relative compliance, absorbing the worst that urban roads have to offer with decent insulation and composure.

You can turn off the stop-start mechanism, but it’s so discreet in its operation that we suspect you won’t want to

Small imperfections are masked well, although bigger inputs – potholes and the like – cast a greater thump through the low-profile sidewalls and into the body, but in no worse a fashion than you’d expect from 35-profile rear rubber. At higher speeds on steady roads – motorways and so on – the coupé is very good.

On bucking back roads the C-Class feels less expertly tied down than, say, a 3 Series coupé, but it has the measure of every other rival. Overall, it finds a good blend of primary and secondary ride comfort.

And as a driver’s car? Suffice to say that it steers and corners with the refined, mature sophistication that you’d expect, given that it’s based on the C-Class. It’s competent, but not overtly entertaining.

As for the C 63 AMG, there’s an appealing completeness to its dynamic repertoire that allows you confidently explore its limits on public roads. The ride is a bit too firm, however.

AMG’s suspension updates to the Black Series have given it staggering body control, incisive steering, excellent directional stability and huge lateral grip.

Despite weighing 1.7 tonnes, it shrugs off speed with effortless ease under hard braking, and flows from turn-in, through corner apex, to exit with the kind of precision and poise that’s almost unheard of from a relatively portly front-engined V8.


Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé

C 63 AMG models aside, there is only one trim in the Mercedes C-Class coupé, so it’s just a case of picking from the three petrol and two diesel engines and choosing your options.

By the standards of the class, the C-Class range is competitive, especially next to the BMW 3 Series line-up. But the Audi A5 makes it look a touch expensive, even if it lags a bit on standard kit. But generally the C-Class coupé looks to offer competitive acquisition and running costs, plus very decent residuals. Few could expect more.

The coupé is competitively priced and offers good running costs

As for the economy, it is the diesels that are of most interest. Somewhat strangely, the C 250 CDI model gives nothing away to the C 220 CDI in economy and CO2 emissions despite its extra power and torque.

The economy and emissions of the diesels are clearly very good – even with the optional £1500 seven-speed automatic transmission fitted. In fact, at 53.3mpg and 139g/km, these are just about the best numbers you’ll find among the Merc’s auto-equipped rivals, so it’s easy to see why the C 220 CDI model is expected to be popular with fleet buyers who want something rather more interesting than the usual family wagon but with sensible running costs.

Be careful with the throttle and you’ll see some excellent economy in the C 220 CDI. On our touring route, which replicates a 70mph motorway cruise, we returned a very creditable 56.6mpg, and we regularly returned more than 40mpg.

Economy figures are also impressive in the petrol models, the C 350’s 40.4mpg economy and 155g/km CO2 emissions of particular note.

Economy – or price - doesn’t really come into it with the AMGs, particularly with the fearsomely expensive Black Series. For the record, the most potent C 63 returns 23.2mpg, but don’t expect to see that if you drive it the way it’s supposed to be driven.



4 star Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé

The Mercedes-Benz range is today as strong as it has been for a generation. In virtually every other segment in which it’s represented, a Mercedes model is, at the very least, within a shout of the class lead. And so it proves here with the C-Class coupé.

It is certainly desirable and attractive, with a feelgood interior. The C-Class also genuinely offers something different — in look, feel and driving experience — from its prime Audi and BMW rivals.

A pleasant and desirable everyday coupé. Not as precise as the BMW

Foibles? Only a few. A price north of £30,000 is a lot of money to pay for a car with only 154bhp in its most basic form, and that’s without any options. And you could argue that a coupé — even a Mercedes coupé — ought to be more engaging in spirited driving.

That, however, takes little away from what is yet another strong contender in the Mercedes line-up.

As for the C 63 AMG, as an everyday proposition, it would certainly take some beating. It’s just so unforced, so effortless in the way it goes about its business. And for many, that’s going to count more than anything else.

The Black Series? If you’re contemplating buying a Jaguar XKR-S or an Aston Aston Martin Vantage S instead, just know this: after a handful of corners of any circuit you care to mention, in either British rival, you simply wouldn’t see which way this awesome German went.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe 2011-2015 First drives