We've always preferred the turbodiesel Mercedes C220 Coupe to the petrol C180, so can a cleaner engine change our mind? The new 154bhp 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo makes the new C180 the least powerful C-Class Coupe, as well as the cheapest, but don’t be put off yet.
Give it a workout and the new engine and seven-speed auto impress. Although it’s no powerhouse, it matches the old 1.8’s 154bhp and 250Nm. The torque is also available across a wider range – 1,250-4,000rpm.
The good news is that the car doesn’t feel or sound any less refined, with a smooth idle and a sweet four-cylinder exhaust note when you accelerate. The throttle response isn’t razor sharp (you can blame the turbocharger for that), but it’s an acceptable trade-off for impressive economy.
Fuel consumption is 6.2mpg better than in the old car, at 44.8mpg, while CO2 emissions of 147g/km are a healthy 22g/km improvement over the old 1.8-litre C180.
For a more lively response, the seven-speed auto box has a Sports mode, where you can use the silver shift paddles for fast manual gearshifts. The extra cog helps improve economy over the old six-speed automatic, as does the electric power-steering. It’s well weighted and direct, with just enough feedback and light enough for tight parking manoeuvres around town.
While the sports suspension errs towards the firm side, and crashes over big holes in the road, it’s by no means back-breaking and settles quickly after hitting a bump. The handling benefits from the firm suspension are clear through corners, however, where the C180 feels slightly lighter and more agile than a diesel model.
On the outside, our C180 Sport Plus is set apart by an AMG bodykit that includes a bootlid spoiler, while there’s also a two-bar sports grille, xenons, LED daytime running lights and 18-inch AMG alloys. At £32,590, it’s pricey for a 1.6-litre car, and the cheapest C180 Coupe is still over £30,000. The extra £1,000 for Sport Plus models is worth it, though, for the extra visual drama.
The interior impresses with a familiar Mercedes feeling of solidity. The leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel also features audio and COMAND infotainment buttons, which control the DAB radio, plus the Bluetooth, USB and auxiliary connections.
Sport Plus specification gives you black Artico/Dinamica artificial leather upholstery – the real leather you see in our test car is a £1,720 option. Red stitching covers the sports seats and door trims, while the attractive and sporty brushed aluminium pedals are well positioned.