“Sportier, more agile, more powerful and more fun.” This is the boast of practically every entry level luxury car released, refreshed or updated each year. Yet, there’s no surprise as to which automaker’s machine sits on the pole position when it comes to sport sedans and coupes.
|1. The C350 4Matic Coupe is powered by a 3.5L V6 engine with 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque helping it reach 60 mph in 5.9 seconds.
2. Fuel economy is rated at 19 MPG city and 27 MPG highway for the 4MATIC Coupe, while RWD coupes get 20/29 MPG. We averaged 25 MPG.
3. The C-Class Coupe starts at $37,800 for the base C250. Our C350 4MATIC Coupe starts at $45,200 and came to $54,200 after options and destination charges.
But Mercedes? Year-after-year the C-Class sedan sits just out of the spotlight, watching the main event from the best seat in the house, but as emphasized with the C-Class Coupe we have here, that’s not always a bad place to be.
With the C-Class Coupe, the brand takes the entry-level sport sedan and chops off the rear doors, offering a similar driving feel in a more attractive package and lines it up next to the wide range of other entry-level luxury coupes from BMW, Audi, Cadillac and Infiniti.
In 2013, the C-Class Coupe still won’t be giving the competition night-terrors when it comes to sporty credentials, but maybe the rest of the segment can learn a thing or two from Mercedes about how a car needs to act when it comes to delivering a luxurious and refined ride.
FLOATS AND STINGS
New for the 2013 model year is the ability to pair Mercedes’ well-honed 4MATIC all-wheel-drive with the 3.5L V6. A combination as good as the Ali shuffle and the boxer’s signature straight jab, the coupe finally has the cred to compete with the range toppers from BMW and Audi (RS and M badges aside). The 60-degree V6 motor puts out a healthy 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque and helps the coupe hit 60 mph in 5.9 seconds.
While not quite as fast as the 335xi or Audi S5, the C-Class Coupe feels unbelievably refined and smooth. It’s easy to appreciate the power of the car’s V6 engine, though it’s harder to get carried away with it.
Much of the magic comes from the seven-speed transmission. Give the gas pedal a brisk jab and the transmission responds by giving you a gear. Floor it and the car counters with a haymaker as it dials in the perfect gear ratio for maximum acceleration. Without provocation, the transmission is smooth and quick, with little shift-shock.
The C-Class has two available personalities for your driving style. By default a docile “E” mode is used, where the car is a bit lazy feeling. Switch to the “S” mode and it acts like it has downed a few espressos and is far more sensitive in terms of throttle feel. A raspy engine note accompanies heavy acceleration and easily brings a smile to your face.
Grip is appreciated in such situations and now that the C350 Coupe is available with 4MATIC, there’s no wheel spin when driving enthusiastically. Mercedes’ latest generation of its AWD system manages not disrupt the dimensions of the car in any way and is efficient enough to only affect fuel economy by one mpg in combined driving situations. In our testing we managed an excellent 25 MPG.
Having AWD just makes sense in this package. It’s not sporty enough that you want it to be rear-wheel drive and 4MATIC brings the grip so that no matter the weather the C-Class Coupe delivers.
The suspension is firm but doesn’t detract from the luxury focus of the vehicle, while the brakes shed speed with confidence.
If there’s any area that needs improving it’s the steering. It’s precise, but just doesn’t convey enough road feel.
BEAUTY ON THE INSIDE
It’s hard to place the exterior of the C-Class. It’s handsome, with lines that all flow in the right places, but from some angles, the car looks a bit like the recently updated Honda Accord Coupe. That says more about Honda’s design than the Mercedes, but buyers spending nearly $50,000 certainly don’t want their car confused with one that costs half the price.
Up front, the design of the upgraded lighting system gives the Mercedes an imposing, almost super-villain-esque persona, while the big 18-inch AMG styled wheels on our Sport trim model play the part too.
More than anywhere else it’s the interior where the C-Class earns its keep. High-quality materials are strategically placed giving you the full luxury experience. Build quality is excellent. The black-leather with red-stitching on our tester helps portray that sinister exterior aura, but it’s the seats that are the main attraction. With Alcantara inserts and supportive, yet non-intrusive bolstering, fatigue was never a factor when driving the C-Class Coupe, even during a four or five-hour stint.
ADD-ONS TAKE THE STRESS OUT OF LIFE
That’s an impressive fact and goes hand-in-hand with the rest of the C350’s convenience and safety features that let you feel comfortable and worry-free when driving. The optional lighting package adds bi-xenon headlights which can illuminate hidden corners while turning in addition to automatically enabling high-beams when it’s safe to do so.
Inside the multimedia package adds a rear-view camera, navigation and a voice-recognition system which actually works. Finally, the lane-tracking package adds blind-spot assist in addition to lane keep assist.
While some other German car interiors can be described as drab and sterile, the C-Class is anything but and has a few other characterful features like a large panoramic sunroof, a 450-watt harmon/kardon audio system and a unique ‘hold’ feature for the brakes which allows you to take your foot off the brakes at a stop-light. They’re small touches, but help to make the Mercedes a liveable vehicle day-after-day.
Behind the wheel of the C-Class Coupe you’ll feel like Goldilocks when it comes to power, road-feel and interior comfort, though not when it comes to pricing. Starting at $43,200 with the 4MATIC system costing an additional $2,000, the price tag of this Benz is a pleasant surprise.
The C350 undercuts the Audi S5, the BMW 435xi and even other similarly equipped luxury coupes like the Cadillac CTS Coupe and Infiniti G37x Coupe.
While it fails to deliver the impressive hard-edged performance that its German rivals provide, it hits hard when it comes to comfort, luxury materials and premium features, offering a stand out package in its segment.