Surge and rescue
Topping the range (until June, when the $162,400 AMG C63 S arrives) is the C300. At $83,400, it uses the same 2.0litre engine as the C200 in a higher state of tune.
The C300 bundles 13speaker Burmester audio, sports exhaust and Benz’s Comand Online software using an 8.5-inch infotainment screen with internet access and a 10GB music store.
ON THE ROAD
A rain-slicked Dandenong Ranges road helps illustrate the coupe’s abilities — those who buy it as a driver’s car won’t be let down. The hallmarks of the C-Class sedan — deft steering and a compliant chassis — are evident here as the plumes of rainwater mark its progress.
Step beyond the limits of adhesion and there’s very gentle software intervention, to the point where you need to be watching the dash to pick it.
Even a deliberate sideways lunge on to mid-corner corrugations couldn’t cause the car any distress — though I guarantee it wouldn’t do passengers much good.
The steel suspension (adaptive air suspension is an option) is firm but not harsh — it took a particularly savage train track crossing to make the C-Class rebound and it isn’t going to spill drinks while going over speed humps.
Acceleration in the C200 is rarely found wanting on anything short of the steepest hill, in which case the transmission will shuffle through the seven ratios until it finds a gear to match the pressure on the accelerator.
The C300 isn’t found wanting anywhere. It surges off the line and out of a turn with the intensity of a professional footballer, without ever feeling as hurried as the speedo would indicate.
The biggest disappointment with either of the petrol coupes is the engine noise, or lack thereof. The four-cylinder engines sound suitably smooth and industrious under load but they lack the visceral overtones you really want in a car that’s as sexy as this one.
Gruff engine note aside, there’s very little to criticise in the C-Class coupe. Rear headroom isn’t huge for tall adults, though shoulder and legroom are up on the outgoing model.
The front seat automatically slides forwards to grant access to those rear pews but I wouldn’t encourage installing anyone who’s had a few ales in those seats — they may not exit in a manner they or you would prefer.
The chunky windscreen pillars aren’t the easiest to see past on right-hand turns and … there’s not a lot more to complain about.
I’d take the optional head-up display and curse as I paid $1531 — or more — for metallic paint but I wouldn’t begrudge the decision to buy the C-Class
coupe. That said, the BMW 4 Series will prove a formidable adversary, particularly the excellent 428i.
The two-door C-Class is smartly priced and specified and will deservedly lead the running in the compact coupe stakes.
It is as special in its own way as the C sedan … but the opposition has moved on since the sedan wowed the world and this car will face tougher competition.