As solid as its cars were, Mercedes-Benz has been lagging behind arch-rival BMW for the past few decades, especially when it comes to driving dynamics. But the current C-Class saloon came along two years ago and changed the equation completely. Not only did Stuttgart step it up quite a few notches in terms of styling, it impressed all of us here at wheels with its spectacular mix of great handling, precise steering and smooth, luxurious ride quality. So much so that it went on to become our 2015 Executive Saloon of the Year. Since then, the C-Class family has grown considerably to include a coupé version, the GLC crossover, the SLC roadster, and for the first time ever, a proper C-Class Cabriolet.
The previous C-Class Coupé came as a late addition to the range, joining the saloon towards the fag end of its production cycle. This time around, Mercedes took the wise decision of bringing out the two-door variant early enough to ride the wave of popularity created by its critically acclaimed four-door sibling.
Just as the saloon looks like a reduced photocopy of the S-Class saloon, the Coupé is almost indistinguishable from the brand’s flagship coupé in all but proportions. However, while it’s a huge design improvement over the car it replaces, the Coupé’s looks aren’t as striking as that of the saloon.
The profile, with its scanty glass area, isn’t nearly as nice-looking as that of the saloon, but the slimmer, sleeker tail lamps and a repositioned licence plate lend it a seemingly wider stance from the rear.
Up front, the grille has been tweaked a bit and looks more sculpted, and is flanked by LED headlights. So overall, while the C-Class Coupé looks distinctively attractive, the same cannot be said about its side profile. Inside, it gets the same flowing dash as the saloon’s, richly appointed with leather, metal and high-quality plastics, and complete with a 7.0in colour screen with rotary and touchpad controls to navigate through the Comand infotainment system. While the design and layout of the cabin are pretty much the same here, the front seats are different, with more pronounced bolstering than those in the saloon. Both these buckets, featuring electric lumbar support adjustments and extendable thigh support flaps, afford the driver and front passenger comfortable seating even for long-distance trips. It’s also very easy to get yourself into the best driving position with a clear, expansive view out the windscreen; however, rear visibility isn’t the best.
As expected in a coupé this size, the rear seats aren’t the most spacious, with barely enough room for two average-sized adults. Even if you find someone willing to sit back there for a long drive, they’re going to find getting in and out past the front seats a tough mission. But then it’s safe to assume that the majority of buyers who go for such cars are those who do not have to worry about taking more than one other person along. Nevertheless, a decent-sized boot, along with the 40:20:40 split and fold rear seats, make it a reasonably practical load carrier, provided you consider it a two-seater. While all these factors come together to make the C-Class Coupé an appealing proposition, none of it really matter if the dynamics don’t match up to the hype. Fortunately, they do. Being essentially the same car as the hugely capable saloon, the Coupé uses the same four-link front suspension and a five-link set-up out back – tuned to be slightly firmer and sportier. It’s no sportscar, but on twisty roads, the C Coupé feels lithe, predictable and at the same time, pliant. In fact, the ride quality is a notch better than that of the 4 Series.
Flicking it into Sport and Sport+ modes tightens things up progressively, adding a tad more aggression to the throttle, and the steering and suspension get even tauter. The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot is the same as the C300 saloon’s and puts out 242bhp and 370Nm of torque, all sent to the tarmac through the rear wheels by a seven-speed automatic transmission. However, the four-pot sounds raspier through the two-door’s firewall than it does in the saloon. And as you’d expect in a Merc, every imaginable comfort and safety feature is crammed into the C Coupé, including adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning and so on.
Overall, the new C-Class Coupé offers more personality and athleticism than the model it replaces. But it isn’t dynamically as capable as the 4 Series, instead offering a milder, sophisticated experience behind the wheel. A great choice for those eyeing a coupé that balances svelte styling with decent dynamics and comfort.