Mercedes C Class Coupe Review
It’s all very well wearing a sensible suit for work every day, but the weekend requires something a little less formal. The C-Class Coupe is the wild weekend version of the C-Class saloon, but for those in their middle age who consider wild to be booking a table for dinner at 9 pm rather than 7:30 pm.
The car takes everything from the C-Class saloon and removes the practical and sensible bits, leaving a sumptuously designed coupe that looks far more expensive than it is.
There’s no escaping that you’ll be paying more and, on paper at least, getting less. Not convinced? We take a look and see if less means more...
Select's rating score* - 4.0 / 5
The C-Class Coupe is a car of two halves. At the front, and through to the doors, it’s got the look of a sensible saloon car. Keep going back and there’s an S-Class inspired coupe grafted onto the back, the roofline sweeping away and leading to a smooth and chunky boot lid.
It’s only a single centimetre longer than the saloon but the sleek shape and lowered roofline extend it visually, making the Coupe stand out as something more special than a humdrum executive car.
The interior looks like it's been lifted entirely from the saloon, but that’s no bad thing; there are few classier places to sit than a current Mercedes-Benz interior, full of tactile materials, classic design and modern touches.
Mercedes has also carefully chosen the engine and trim ranges, from a 1.5-litre petrol unit for those that just need to get into C-Class Coupe ownership, through frugal diesel options and onto a fire-breathing 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 that puts more than 500hp through to the rear wheels.
The whole essence of a coupe is for the form to lead function and, frankly, function often isn’t particularly important. Mercedes certainly has the first half of the equation sorted, with the Coupe getting a more aggressively styled front bumper, a floating diamond grille and a rear apron with a built-in diffuser.
It’s not just old-fashioned visual appeal wrapped around a middle-aged Mercedes interior, as that's loaded with technology from a head-up display and floating infotainment screen to digital instruments and cutting edge connectivity for your smartphone.
In many respects, it’s a conventional coupe that doesn’t break much new ground, but what is provided has been honed from many years of making models that it knows its buyers want. Mercedes’ problem is that a vast swathe of people wants it, so the Coupe has to cope with being an economical cross-country cruiser to being a potent track weapon.
Is being all things to all men a key feature? The C-Class Coupe is a consummate all-rounder, so it might have to be
It’s not trendy these days, but the diesel engine options are the ones to go for in the C-Class Coupe. You could opt for a petrol unit, but the entry-level 1.5-litre model in the C200 is rather asthmatic, requiring lots of work to extract the promised performance.
The C300 takes a 2.0-litre engine that produces a handy 258hp, with surprisingly rapid performance figures and economy of up to 39.8mpg - at least officially.
However, the huge swathes of torque offered by the diesel engines mean that even the C220d can keep up with the petrol-powered models, but return a more impressive 55.4mpg. With a bigger turbo and four-wheel-drive, the C300d is even quicker, heading towards sports car territory.
However, the big numbers come from the C43 and C63 models. The former pumps 390hp out, but the C63 extends that to 510hp. The result there is a 0-62mph sprint of just 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 180mph.
The C220d is what most will end up in, and that’s a fine balance between performance, economy and cost. It also strikes a fine balance on the road, the C-Class chassis having been tweaked to afford the Coupe a more sporting posture.
It sits 15mm lower than the saloon, on slightly stiffer springs that pay dividends when it comes to cornering. It’s not as sharp as a sports car could be - the BMW 4 Series will entertain more - but there’s enough there to enjoy the sensations. The optional adjustable suspension improves matters by offering the chance to stiffen the car considerably for more enthusiastic moments, or softening the car for longer cruises. In that setting, it soaks up long motorway undulations and the various bumps and lumps of the road nicely. However, sharp-edged potholes and expansion joints unsettle the car a little, shaking their way through to the cabin.
Four-wheel drive models (limited to the C300d and powerful C43 models) will offer enhanced traction, but there’s little wrong with the regular rear-wheel-drive car in that regard.
Each comes with a nine-speed automatic gearbox which is smooth enough, although can be a little slow to react, especially when you’re in a hurry. However, the diesel model's surfeit of torque means you don’t necessarily need to swap gears that often, allowing the engine’s power to pull you away instead. If you want to make the most of the car, there are gear shift paddles behind the steering wheel.
Anything as sleek as the C-Class Coupe can’t be cheap to run, you’d think. That might not be the case, at least not at the lower end of the range.
The popular C220d model might have a list price north of £40,000, but strong residuals mean leasing costs are relatively low, with rates lower than £450 a month. Fuel economy is strong too, with the official figures promising as much as 55.4mpg. Unusually, that’s generally beatable on motorway cruises and other less stressful journeys.
Emissions are kept reasonably in check, with a best of 133g/km, which means company car drivers face a BIK rate of 33%, which translates toa 40% taxpayer stumping up £458 a month for a C220d AMG Line Edition model.
Mercedes-Benz offers a fixed-price servicing package, allowing maintenance to be budgeted for, while every car comes with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty, making the C-Class Coupe a surprisingly and pleasingly sensible car to run. You do pay a slight premium for the diesel models, with purchase and lease costs of the petrol models being a little lower.
And then there’s the C43 and C63. If you manage more than 25mpg out of the latter, you’re a better person than me. Single-digit readings are possible, and you’ll need to be very friendly with your local tyre supplier. Insurance brokers will be your best friend too, as it sits in the very highest insurance group. And that’s before you look at the £80,000+ asking price. Still, fun has never been about counting the pennies.
The C43 and C63 models, with their potent performance, emit a lot of CO2. At 221 and 250g/km, respectively, these are not the models for those looking to reduce tax bills or save the planet.
The normal range, for want of a better word, all sit in a range from 133 to 175g/km, which isn’t too bad for a bulky car that puts style ahead of hybrid technologies and green motoring.
With no choice of gearboxes, there’s no option to reduce emissions by opting for a manual gearbox, and neither can you choose whether to have the heavy four-wheel-drive system or not - if you’ve got a C300d, you’ve got four-wheel drive. Everything else is lighter thanks to only having real wheel drive, although the Coupe still weighs in at more than 1.6 tonnes rising to 1.8 tonnes for the C63.
The new S-Class might be a digital tour de force, but the rest of Mercedes’ cars stick to a more traditional cabin layout, and they look fabulous. Blending traditional style with modern technology to near perfection, the cabin of the C-Class Coupe feels both classically opulent and bleeding edge at the same time.
Ahead of the driver on all but the AMG Line Edition model is a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel with selectable displays. To the left, there’s another screen, this time 10.25-inches and housing the infotainment centre. This high-tech setup sits in a cabin covered in black ash or anthracite oak and aluminium, with curvaceous surfaces and classy rotary design cues.
Even the seats look a million dollars, replicating the style of fixed sports seats but secretly making them electrically adjustable and supremely comfortable leather-wrapped seats instead. The perception of quality is strong, but there are a few places where you might think it’s not as rock-solid as you expect. Those chrome rocker switches (which are plastic) wobble around a little too much, and the plastics sound thinner than you’d hope for, but nothing has ever fallen off one I’ve been driving.
There’s little visible technology in the C-Class Coupe, the cabin kept relatively neat and tidy with just the 10.25-inch infotainment screen a clue that there are toys to be played with.
The system includes hard-disk based navigation (apart from the entry-level model, which comes with a more basic system) that includes topographic maps and 3D buildings and city models, or even satellite images when paired to a phone. You’ll also find a DAB radio and voice control, but there’s no sign of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
More useful tech pops up around the car, from LED headlamps (they have 84 individual LEDs in each cluster, switching on and off individually to provide the best light) to 360-degree cameras so you can manoeuvre the car with ease.
There’s always a but and, in this case, it’s that the AMG Line Edition misses out on quite a lot of these items, some of which you might consider essential on a car like this. It’s worth looking at how much extra the next model up will cost you.
While there is a trend for SUV-like coupes, riding high with bulky lines and packaging compromises, the C-Class Coupe is resolutely old school. It’s a sleek, low slung, traditional coupe, and that brings with it the need to compromise on practicality.
But only a bit, at least if you’re sitting in the front. There you’ll find plenty of room to get comfortable, although the lower roofline robs you of some headroom. There are two seats in the back, and you’ll need to be something of a contortionist to get into them, but they’re comfortable and roomy enough not to present an issue.
The boot is a decent size, able to accommodate at least 360 litres of squashy bags for the weekend, which is only slightly smaller than the boot in a Ford Focus. The rear seats also split and fold, which is unusual for a coupe. It doesn’t leave a flat floor but does open the cabin up to slide longer objects into.
Loading heavier objects might be a little tricky due to the high lip, while bulky items will struggle to get through the narrow opening, but you could probably squeeze a set of golf clubs in there.
Euro NCAP hasn’t tested the C-Class Coupe, and the five-star rating for the C-Class saloon dates back to 2014 and a different set of standards, but it’s safe to assume that the Mercedes-Benz is, well, safe.
While reputation might be enough to make that assumption, Mercedes-Benz has thrown all sorts of safety kit onto the Coupe. Automatic emergency braking works to prevent an accident at the last moment, but driver fatigue monitoring and even brakes that dry themselves automatically are just two systems designed to keep you a long way from an impact.
Should the inevitable happen, pedestrians are protected by an active bonnet. This pops up slightly, keeping body parts away from solid parts of the engine. Sensors also detect an accident and, once stopped, unlock the doors. Even the nine airbags are dual-stage, ensuring impressive retardation without exploding a bag of air hard into the face.
Impressively, every safety system is standard across the whole range.
Mercedes-Benz has created a series of trim levels that makes options almost redundant. The range starts with the AMG Line Edition, in C200 or C220d forms, which is well specified and looks just as classy as other models, but several key bits of equipment are left off the spec list.
Stepping up to the AMG Line Edition Premium models brings a host of new equipment, including the excellent LED headlights, digital instrument cluster, premium navigation package, electrically adjustable seats and an uprated stereo system. The cash price of £2,995 is probably money well spent.
The oddly named AMG Line Night Edition Premium Plus model is fully kitted out, with keyless entry and start, 19-inch alloy wheels, a 360-degree camera system, a panoramic sunroof and a 13-speaker Burmester sound system.
At the top of the range, the C43 and C63 models have their own specs, but most changes are exterior spoilers and sporting decorations, or sporty changes to the inside such as seats, steering wheels and even coloured seat belts.
Metallic paints cost an extra £685, with some special finishes rising as high as £1,795. Can we recommend the Brilliant Blue Metallic option, as that looks epic?
The BMW 4 Series is the most obvious rival for the C-Class Coupe. It’s got just as wide a range of engine and performance models, with the M4 being one of the finest cars on the road. However, it’s got a harder edge than the Mercedes, missing out on the sumptuous ride quality of the C-Class Coupe.
Audi’s A5 Coupe is arguably a closer match, with styling that’s every bit as elegant, and an interior that misses out on a sense of occasion but is as perfect to use as you can get. The ride quality is closer to the Mercedes setup too. It’s cramped in the back though, and the equipment levels aren’t as generous, leading to expensive option boxes being ticked.
Outside of the German trio, the Lexus RC stands out, quite literally. It’s got a dramatic style unlike anything else, with more road presence than you’d expect from a Japanese brand. That drama continues inside, where you get a cutting edge interior filled with Tokyo technology. It’s not as sharp on the road, but cruises beautifully so this is one to cross continents in, rather than tackle cross country roads.
Mercedes-Benz hasn’t rocked the boat in coming up with the C-Class Coupe but has managed to distil all the best bits of the saloon into a superficially sporty and undoubtedly sultry bodyshell.
With high standard levels of equipment, impressive safety, and looks to die for, there’s very little to complain about. The diesel engines offer impressive performance and economy, but there’s no escape from the fact they’re quite noisy at idle - your neighbours will definitely know you’ve not opted for the C63!
The Audi ups the quality just a little, and the BMW offers a more engaging drive, but the C-Class Coupe provides a balance between all demands that none of its rivals can match. Best in class? Probably.
Lease price: from £190.12
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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top six leading independent car website reviews of the Focus.
**Correct as of 24/09/2020. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £1,711.04. Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.