We head to the picturesque Garden Route to sample what’s arguably the sleekest and most stylish vehicle in the current Mercedes-Benz portfolio, the C-Class Coupe.
The C-Class sedan is a classy product offering and it has won many awards both internationally and in South Africa. A 2015 World Car of the Year title and Business Class category win in the annual Cars.co.za Consumer Awards are quality achievements. However, the C-Class range is due for expansion and this coupe model is the first new model to join the range with a convertible C-Class following later in 2016. According to Mercedes-Benz South Africa, 2015 was the year of the SUV and 2016 will be the year of dropping the roof. There’s going to be the new SLC, S-Class convertible and C-Class convertible arriving in SA soon.
Design and approach
A coupe, by loose definition, is a two-door sporty vehicle that evokes an emotional response. If this was the brief given to the Mercedes-Benz designers, then they’ve absolutely nailed it. Design is such a subjective topic: what one person considers a masterpiece can be viewed as a bland object by others.
However, in the case of the C-Class Coupe, the newcomer appears striking and elegant from many angles. While from the front it appears derivative of most contemporary Mercedes-Benzes, the flanks and rear ooze presence and gracefulness. From the rear three-quarter perspective, it’s exceptionally pretty.
The C-Class Coupe line-up
Mercedes-Benz SA is releasing the coupe in batches. The first derivatives to be released are the C200, C300 and C220d, then we’ll see Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe arriving in the middle of the year and, given the push of the AMG Sport sub-brand, you can expect a C450 version to make its way to the local market too. The latter will probably be equipped with Mercedes’ 4matic all-wheel drive system.
This event had the first three models for us to drive and we spent the majority of our time behind the wheel of the C220d, with a quick mountain blast dispatched in the C300.
The petrol engine in the C-Class Coupe is a 2.0-litre four cylinder turbocharged unit that delivers different outputs depending on the model. In C200 guise, you get 135 kW and 300 Nm, while the C300 develops 180 kW and 370 Nm. Both vehicles utilise Benz's trusty 7G-tronic transmission and both will hit 100 kph from standstill briskly (a claimed time of 7.3 seconds for the C200 and six seconds dead for the C300). Meanwhile, the C220d uses the venerable 2.1-litre which has proven its worth over the years. In this application, it delivers 125 kW and 400 Nm and the new 9G-tronic transmission is available too.
Ride and drive
The Garden Route has exceptionally scenic roads and the asphalt surfaces are of varying quality – it must be one of the best areas in South Africa for assessing the ride/handling balance of a car. In the C220d, it's best to leave the transmission to its own devices and in Comfort mode, the coupe offers a relaxing driving experience. Should you need to pick up the pace, there's Sport mode, which produces sharper throttle responses and a sportier 'shift pattern.
Although the cabin is well insulated against that typical clatter produced by a turbodiesel engine, there was a discernable level of road noise that entered the cabin. On coarser stretches of tarmacs (and with the launch vehicle shod with big wheels with low-profile rubber), the rumble of the wheels at highway speeds was a minor drawback. However, on smoother roads, the C220d was significantly quieter.
We then we drove the C300 – the current top-of-the-range model. Boasting a significantly higher peak power output and an Edition One visual body kit, it marked quite a departure from its relaxed cruiser turbodiesel brother. In this derivative, you can select Sport mode, twirl the tiller with abandon and enjoy DSG-like exhaust pops as the engine's revs rollick. The optional air suspension works well, too: the damping firms up nicely to provide solid body control on a twisty road.
Having said that, the C-Class Coupe is not the most dynamic of on-road performers. If that’s what you require from your Benz, then consider the upcoming AMG Sport and potent V8-powered AMG versions. What the Mercedes-Benz C-Class does beautifully is provide a relaxed and refined drive, a classy yet modern cabin as well as the latest technology both in terms of convenience features and safety. For open road cruising and sheer road presence, it's difficult to fault this lithe offering.
As with virtually all contemporary Mercedes-Benz products, the C-Class Coupe is comprehensively equipped and can be specified with a variety of features, such as a head-up display, COMAND satellite navigation and infotainment, parking cameras, climate control and the aforementioned air suspension.
In terms of onboard safety equipment, you get Attention Assist, Collision Prevention Assist Plus and seven airbags. Distronic Plus radar-guided cruise control is optional, and speaking of extra-cost options, we humbly suggest that you tick the box marked "Edition One". These limited edition models boast eye-catching body kits and the interior is a delicious combination of brown leather with turquoise stitching.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe prices in South Africa
The C-Class Coupe comes standard with a class-leading 6-year / 100 000 km PremiumDrive maintenance plan. It’s important to note that the C220d is exempt from CO2 emission tax due to its low footprint of 113 g/km.
C200 R551 000
C220d R592 700
C300 R660 300