Coupé de grace

The new 2017 Mercedes- Benz c 300 com­pact coupé strives To earn a dis­tinct iden­tity amongst an end­less sea of mod­els FUN FACT

WKND - - O N T H E R O A D -

P er­haps the coupé is the most ac­cu­rate way of rep­re­sent­ing “a sin­gle’s life” be­sides mar­i­tal sta­tus on so­cial me­dia. MercedesBenz seems to have sev­eral in­ter­pre­ta­tions of this ide­ol­ogy, but, today, we talk about just one — the new C- Class coupé. Last time we got be­hind the wheel of one was a few years ago — we found it to be a com­pe­tent ve­hi­cle, but it lacked iden­tity. This time, the 2017 Mercedes- Benz C 300 Coupé, we think, is go­ing tell a dif­fer­ent story. The last gen­er­a­tion car launched in 2011 was a like­able one. But it drew vis­ual cues from the sedan a lit­tle too much; this one has been de­signed to be a coupé from the start. Sure, the strik­ing fam­ily re­sem­blance can be seen in the face — with head­lamps that in­cor­po­rate di­ag­o­nal, LED day­time run­ners, that turn blue on startup with dy­namic xenon head­lamps, and the in­no­va­tive di­a­mond ra­di­a­tor grille with its float­ing pix­els… but pretty much ev­ery­thing else is brand new, es­pe­cially the roofline that

DE­SIGN & AES­THET­ICS

seems to take on one cur­va­ture from the hood to the boot. It’s the hind quar­ters that takes the cake from a de­sign per­spec­tive. The stretched hor­i­zon­tal strip light­ing mim­ics those on the big daddy of lux­ury, the S- Class coupé and that’s more than what you bar­gained for.

Be­ing a coupé, it has also been given a more planted and ag­gres­sive stance, thanks to its 50mm ( ap­prox) wider tracks and some 15mm low­ered ride height. The pur­pose­fully squat look gives it both vis­ual and dy­namic ad­van­tages.

All these styling qual­i­ties com­bine to cre­ate a fresh new ex­te­rior that an­swers that ques­tion about iden­tity. It’s truly got a shape that it can call its own and is high on de­sir­abil­ity — which often is the num­ber one pri­or­ity in this seg­ment.

On the inside, it’s much like the C- Class sedan, which is much like the A- Class hatch, which is much like the GLA cross­over and ev­ery­thing else in the lower spec­trum of the Merc range. We don’t mind! It’s hard not to love that chunky 3- spoke mul­ti­func­tion steer­ing wheel and the splashes of satin fin­ish sil­ver trims that go over the steer­ing spokes, the circular pro­ject­ing air vents, the door pan­els and even the starter but­ton. Giv­ing the cabin an edge of so­phis­ti­ca­tion is the seem­ingly free­stand­ing ipad- like 8.4- inch in­fo­tain­ment screen, that is con­trolled by the COMAND con­troller, the pro­pri­etary ro­tary knob for Merc, but works much like the BMW idrive; and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing ad­di­tional touch con­troller placed like a cowl over the ro­tary one. The Burmester au­dio unit is an ex­pen­sive op­tion, but take a peek at their ex­quis­ite per­fo­rated fin­ish and you will fall in love with the art of man­u­fac­tur­ing.

The front seats are sporty bucket- types, unique to the coupé, but there is plenty of free­dom for your limbs. Ingress and egress are made easy with the mov­able steer­ing col­umn that re­lo­cates when you dis­place your­self into or out of the car. And the belt feeder is a con­ve­nient fea­ture as well, which au­to­mat­i­cally brings the belt to you so don’t have to stretch for it; it can be but­ton op­er­ated too.

Pull the tug and the front seats move for­ward elec­tron­i­cally to let the rear pas­sen­gers in, like the hos­pi­tal­ity shared

by the valet staff. But once inside, you sit on neat- look­ing in­di­vid­u­ally- con­toured seats; it’s a tad cramped back there owing to the slop­ing roofline — re­minds us of many mod­ern ho­tels with their huge lob­bies, but some tiny- scaled rooms. The 4- Series is more live­able in this as­pect, but at least you can slide your feet un­der the front seat and slouch for more head­room; you can also en­joy the view out of the panoramic sun­roof that spans 2/ 3 of the roof area.

POW­ER­TRAIN & PER­FOR­MANCE

So this is the C 300 — its pow­er­train sits nicely in the C- Class Coupé range and is pow­ered by a tur­bocharged 2.0- litre in­line 4- cylin­der like the C 200 and C 250. Place it on the dy­namome­ter and it will show 245bhp at 5,500rpm and 370Nm of torque — that’s as much twist as the old 3.5- litre V6 but with lighter en­gine parts. It sends power to rear wheels via a 7- Speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

On the road, from minute one, we knew the C Coupé is more a grand tourer than a true- blue sports car, and man­ages that bal­ance very well. Stomp your foot and the car pro­pels for­wards with en­thu­si­asm but some­how tells you not to make it a habit. The 6.0 sec­onds it takes to reach 100 km/ h from a stand­still is pretty quick for any coupé but, again, it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily feel like it is built for the drag strip. It also matches the C 350 in terms of ac­cel­er­a­tion — up to a 100 km/ h — but it will give way to the older car down the stretch. Al­ter­na­tively, you can get the 43 AMG with gets you about 50 per cent more torque or the 63 S with al­most twice as much.

Be­sides the Mercedes- AMG C 43 4MATIC Coupé, which de­liv­ers the re­as­sur­ing grip of an all- wheel drive, the rest of the range comes with the clas­sic rear wheel drive plat­form. The elec­tronic safety nan­nies like trac­tion and ESP cut power to keep you from hav­ing fun with some tail- out ac­tion, but the feel of power go­ing to the rear axle re­mains and that’s a good thing. Steer­ing is sharp and quick, but slightly numb and not nec­es­sar­ily the best tool to break a lap record with. A com­pro­mise is met be­cause the ride qual­ity is rather com­fort­able; but with the op­tional air sus­pen­sion AIRMATIC, with its con­tin­u­ously vari­able damp­ing sys­tem, it gets even bet­ter. The DY­NAMIC SE­LECT Con­troller lets you switch between the var­i­ous modes to suit your mood. This com­bi­na­tion gives it ev­ery­day us­abil­ity — at least from the driver’s per­spec­tive.

VER­DICT FEA­TURES & FUNC­TION­AL­ITY

You can open up the boot with the wag of your foot un­der the rear bumper or by the click of the key­fob. It gives you some 400 litres, which is smaller than the new A5 and the 4- Series equiv­a­lent, but it’s more than suf­fi­cient; there’s the added prac­ti­cally of a side net and top mounted hooks for your gro­ceries. And you can also fold down the rear seats which split in 40: 20: 40 fash­ion for more space; they can be opened from the boot as well as the pull of a lever.

If safety is your con­cern, the C Coupé boasts of fea­tures such as col­li­sion pre­ven­tion as­sist that gives the driver a vis­ual warn­ing, preps the brakes and even brakes au­tonomously if the car gets too close to the one ahead. You also get blind spot mon­i­tor­ing and lane- track­ing pack­age that pro­vide the driver with vis­ual and au­di­ble warn­ings of ve­hi­cles in the blind spot with vi­bra­tions through the steer­ing wheel. There are ISOFIX mounts for child seats in the back.

The 2017 Mercedes- Benz C 300 Coupé puts a stamp on the idea of coupé be­ing a 2- door car suit­able for those look­ing for gen­er­ous power and com­fort, while main­tain­ing style head and shoul­ders over its peers. Be­sides the ob­vi­ous space de­fi­ciency in the rear and the lack of out­right race DNA in the pow­er­train, there re­ally isn’t much to fault in this car.

[email protected] khalee­j­times. com

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