2012 Mercedes C250 Coupe Review

Mercedes finally gets serious about a BMW 3 Series Coupe rival

2012 Mercedes C250 Coupe Review
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It’s taken long enough for Mercedes-Benz to become truly serious about taking on the BMW 3 Series Coupe. There have been CLKs and E-Class Coupes, but they inevitably suffer from focusing on two targets: the entry-level models aren’t priced appropriately, and top-end versions are more grand tourer than sports coupe. Never mind that the all-out M3 has been offered as a two-door right from its first generation, while hot C’s are always more staid sedans.

FAST FACTS

1. C250 models get a new turbocharged 1.8L 4-cylinder engine making 201 hp and 229 lb-ft of torque, enabling a 0-60 time of 7.1 seconds.

2. Pricing for the C-Class Coupe starts at $37,220 for the C250 model and jumps to $42,370 for the C350.

3. Those looking for added performance can go with the 451 hp C63 AMG Coupe or the outrageous 510-hp C63 AMG Coupe Black Series.

No more – ‘Benz is tired of the indirect comparisons, and to coincide with some freshened styling and new engines, the company launched a proper two-door C-Class Coupe. In the metal, there’s no mistaking the Coupe for what it is. It shares the same revised bold grille with embedded three-pointed star, a large lower air intake flanked by LED running lights. Even the new LED taillights, although different to the two-door, share a similar design with the sedan. Only in profile is the game truly given away, with a coupe’s sleeker greenhouse, longer doors, and canted-up character line around the side windows. Even the wheel designs are shared with the four-door.

Compared to its rivals, the C isn’t the most dramatic to the eye, but it’s pretty enough to attract new customers.

C-CLASS GETS THE INTERIOR IT DESERVES

2012 Mercedes C250 Coupe Interior

The interior is more radically changed – critics charged that the harder plastics and modern design weren’t up to the company’s growing standards. Now the C takes much of its inspiration from the hit E-Class and sexy CLS. It’s more driver-focused with the COMAND and navigation screens canted to the left, and there’s a better meshing of wood, leathers, plastics and metals than before. The sporty three-spoke steering wheel is thicker than the previous sedan’s and features paddles behind the spokes to control up- and down-shifts. The seats are better shaped to keep you in place and also seem designed to support over the long-haul too, which isn’t always the case in performance-thinking cars.

The panoramic room, with dual panes of glass, is standard, and thankfully the coupe’s lower lines don’t impinge much on headroom. In front, anyway. Obviously, the back seat is another story. Also, it only has two sculpted seats, meaning smaller adults or children only.

A 4-CYLINDER MERCEDES?

2012 Mercedes C250 Coupe Engine

The entry-level C 250 Coupe uses an all-new 1.8-liter turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder engine that sends just over 201 horsepower to the rear wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes estimates a 0-60 mph run in just over seven seconds. That’s not a huge amount of out-and-out power, although the 229 lb-ft of torque does come on nice and low to promote passing. (The old 2.5-liter V6 had similar power, but less torque.)

The side-benefit of the down-sized turbo? Great fuel efficiency: Mercedes-Benz claims 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.

We’re familiar with the standard Agility Control suspension, which is a passive system that allows the shock absorbers to perform at their best in most situations. But, unlike the sedan, every Coupe sits lower on its stiffer coil springs, and those shocks are tuned more for enjoyment. The standard 17-inch wheels are wider in the back, using 245/40/17 tires compared to 225/45/17 in front; that’s something you might expect on the more powerful V6 models, but thankfully doesn’t affect the more modest C250’s great balance. Obviously, two styles of 18-inch AMG wheels are optional, but aren’t necessarily any better to drive.

2012 Mercedes C250 Coupe Cornering

Amazingly, the Coupe is 110 lb heavier than the sedan, but you wouldn’t know it. The power ratio is pretty good – not insane, but not slow as Mercedes-Benz’ other small coupe: the Smart Fortwo. It’s a perfect car to learn the driving techniques required for rear-wheel-drive fun. While learning, the C250 has all the usual Mercedes-Benz safety technology, including all the expected driving aids – ABS, brake assist, traction and stability control – and 11 airbags should you spin into the weeds.

MODESTLY PRICED

Pricing starts at a reasonable $37,220 – about $2,000 more than an equivalent sedan; there is a less expensive C250 Sport Sedan, but all Coupes come in Luxury trim with more standard content including dual-zone climate control, 14-way power seats, rain-sensing wipers and a smart-key. Our tester also had the $1,995 Premium 1 package, which includes heated seats, an upgraded harmon/kardon seven-speaker sound system, satellite radio and an iPod interface.

2012 Mercedes C250 Coupe Front Action

Other ways to spend plenty of money include active bi-xenon headlights, full leather seating and a package that includes blind-spot warning and lane-keep assist. The big-dollar multimedia package includes a seven-inch LCD screen, a 10GB hard drive, navigation system and rear-view camera. Standalone options include parking assist and keyless ignition.

Get stupid with the options, and you’ll hit $50,000. But keep things reasonable, and you can stick to the low- to mid-forties without much trouble.

THE VERDICT

Benz’ big target, the BMW 328i coupe, begins at $38,500, and uses a 230-horsepower 3.0-liter inline-six, which even with the optional six-speed automatic transmission, is quicker to 60 mph by three-tenths. And it is the outright sportier choice. But the 3 Series is aging rapidly – the new sedan has just arrived and BMW will likely introduce a two-door version in the next year.

2012 Mercedes C250 Coupe Rear View

Ultimately, the C250 Coupe will appeal to those wanting the solidity, brand strength and good manners that Mercedes-Benz offers in the popular sedan. Definitely worth a drive.

LOVE IT
  • Subtle coupe styling
  • Torque-rich and economical turbo engine
  • Interior upgrades
LEAVE IT
  • Only 200 horsepower?
  • No manual transmission
  • Technology comes at a price

Related Reading
BMW 335i Review
Infiniti G37 Coupe Review
Lexus IS250C Review
Mercedes E350 Coupe Review
Audi A5 Cabriolet Review

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  • http://racecargames.us/ RCG

    I’ve shopped around a bunch and the entry level rear wheel/awd drive Mercedes, BMW, Lexus and awd Audi models are all overpriced compared to a car like the Infiniti G37.

    That doesn’t mean I won’t lease a C250 since it does fill a niche of a fairly narrow near luxury rear wheel drive car that can fit into a compact car parking spot and get good gas mileage. And the Japanese and American car companies haven’t focused in this area. And it gets reasonable gas mileage. Audi and BMW haven’t either considering the 1 series isn’t near luxury in the interior and the Audi A3 has an interior that is barely better then the GTI.

    For folks on a cheap lease…the upcoming BMW 4 cylinder or 6 cylinder engines may be better since they are more fuel efficient but BMW engines are not as reliable and there cars are simply not as well built. I read elsewhere the Mercedes isn’t pushing their 4 cylinder turbo engines to the limit like BMW is planning to do so there engine should have less problems long term.

    My problem with Mercedes — as well as BMW and Audi — isn’t there base prices but its their option prices are excessive. I’d like an American or Japanese company to clone the C250. I would suspect it would be 5-10% less expensive

  • blackcoupe

    i JUST BOUGHT A C250 Coupe new. 2012 model.black with dark avantara interior. I put a couple hundred miles on it and grabbed my GF and took a 200 mile highway trip to visit friends. The multivalve turbo four was very predictable and a strong little motor-the 7 speed makes it surprisingly agile. I love this car! Suspension is tight,seats are very comfortable and the road manners impeccable. I have a old 68 250 sedan that probably wont see  alot of duty now. I knew what the price was going in,and even the the delivery agent at the MB dealer was surprised at the deal I was able to get. new models coming in, a 2012 still in inventory-we managed to strike a deal where no one was offended. Now if I could just get through the 7 different owners manuals and figure out the Command center, it looks like a very nice ride and if it serves me as well as my old 68 I will be a happy customer. I will also state that it was the cleanest,nicest car dealership I have ever been in-good coffee too!

  • Codelin1

    Love my C250.  Had it for 11 months. Great in comfort, style, power, mileage, sound, and maintenance.  TH