After 125-years of doing business, Mercedes-Benz still has a few tricks up their sleeve. And one of them is their new C-Class Coupe. Never before have they anchored their US lineup with only two doors. But, this new “baby-Benz” is not designed just for those with fewer people to haul, but also for those that have more desire for fun. So let’s see just how much fun it is.
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is heavily revised for 2012, but the biggest news is this new Coupe model. The last C-class to be called a “coupe” was the 2002 C230 Sport Coupe. But, it was actually a 3-door hatchback with a look that was quirky and not “Mercedes” enough for the American market.
But, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe’s true coupe styling, designed for North America, is more in line with other sports-luxury 2-doors from the likes of BMW and Cadillac. In that vein, unlike the sibling C-class sedan, the Coupe comes in Sport trim only. Which means its AMG-inspired styling is more aggressive than lavish, with a wide, angular grille, long hood, and short overhangs. It also sits lower. Both windshield and rear glass are steeply raked, with the latter leading to a very short deck-lid. A panoramic, sliding glass roof is standard, and the wide looking rear end gets LED tail lights, a unique lower diffuser, and single chrome exhaust tip.
Inside, the C-Coupe takes a sportier turn as well, where aluminum and black trim take the place of the usual wood veneers. Gauges are a deeply hooded 3-ring array with speedometer and info screen front and center, while the steering wheel features a new 3-spoke design and shift paddles for the 7-speed automatic transmission. Standard sport seats are MB-Tex faux-leather and can be heated if you opt for the Premium 1 package, which also gains an upgraded Harmon/Kardon Logic7 Surround Sound system.
Mercedes-Benz’s Comand system with its 7-inch, high-res. screen displays what you’re rocking out to, plus navigation and other vehicle function. Here’s an oddity. While the driver’s power seat controls are where we expect to find them, on the door, to save money, Mercedes moved the passenger seat controls to the seat bottom. Cheap!
Like most coupes, the rear seat is a squeeze to get to and once you’re in, it’s even harder to get comfortable. But, the split seat backs do fold almost flat and greatly expand the 11.7 cubic-feet of trunk space.
Also in classic coupe fashion, we had fun behind the wheel of our tester, a base four-cylinder turbo C250. It feels lightweight, very sporty, and more agile than the typical Benz, giving up the hefty attitude more common in a Mercedes.
Despite the 250 nomenclature, the chippy direct-injection I4 turbo displaces only 1.8-liters. Horsepower is 201, while torque comes in at 229 pound feet. Move up to the C350 for a more traditional 3.5-liter V6 with 302-horsepower and 273 pound feet. But, we chose the little booster in order to keep weight down and agility up. Still, it’s hard to disguise a small engine, even in a Mercedes. There’s a subtle roughness that’s almost diesel-like. Power is decent, but it does get muted a bit by a very soft throttle.
However, at our test track, the C250 felt quite spirited. 20-degree temperatures made for a cold racetrack and difficult hook-ups, but we did score 60 miles-per-hour in a respectable 7.9-seconds. Things get even more exciting as you approach the red-line, and very firm shifts helped us reach the end of the quarter mile in 16.1-seconds at 89 miles per hour.
So despite some audible rattle, the I4 feels willing and there’s no noticeable turbo lag. That made on/off throttle switchbacks effortless. The front suspension is a 3-link design with McPherson struts, while a multi-link resides in the rear. The optional Advanced Agility package comes with shorter springs and stiffer shock absorbers giving the C-coupe a very sure-footed feel, with quick turn-ins and nicely weighted steering. Brakes are very impressive, bringing our 3,500-pound test car to a halt in just 120-feet on that same ice cold test track. A nice firm pedal and good stability drew praise from our test drivers.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are good, but not as great as we expected with a small engine, at 21-City and 31-Highway. We averaged an acceptable 24 miles-per-gallon, but on Premium fuel. Still, Energy Impact Scores are very good at 13.2-barrels of oil consumed per year with annual CO2 emission at 5.9-tons.
C-Class Coupe pricing is also good, starting at just $38,095 for the C250. By comparison, that’s actually a tick less than both a base 3-Series Coupe and the Cadillac CTS Coupe. Coupes are not big sellers. Mercedes-Benz expects less than 10% of C-class sales to be of the 2-door. But it’s an important segment, both for image, and to keep up with the competition.
While not a serious performance car, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe is like a fountain-of-youth, with a decidedly sportier personality than the C-Class Sedan, making it one cool and classy coupe indeed.
Engine: 1.8-liter I4
Torque: 229 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 7.9 seconds
1/4 mile: 16.1 seconds @ 89 mph
EPA: 21 mpg city/ 31 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 13.2 barrels oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 5.9 tons/yr