Mercedes CLC review (2008-2011)
Mercedes has given its entry-level coupe a new name and fresh look, but its underpinnings haven’t moved with the times.
The CLC takes its lead from the Mercedes C-Class with a distinctive front end that looks both sporty and aggressive. It’s less appealing from the back, though, where the quirky split rear windscreen of the old car has been replaced by a more conventional design. Without the Honda Civic-style clear lower panel its high tail provides terrible rear visibility for the driver.
The low rent trim inside betrays the CLC’s aged underpinnings. Rather than the latest C-Class, its cabin will be more familiar to owners of the previous generation saloon. However, it’s not all bad news, because the CLC is practical. There is plenty of space for rear passengers and a 310-litre boot. Its hatchback design also provides a wide opening for loading and unloading large objects.
One thing the CLC does provide is choice under the bonnet. Petrol options range from the entry-level 1.8-litre 180 Kompressor, which produces 140bhp, to the flagship 268bhp 3.5-litre V6 fitted to the 350 Sport. Buyers also get two diesel options, both based on the firm’s tried and tested four cylinder 2.1-litre CDI unit. They produce 120bhp and 148bhp respectively, but rival models provide more powerful oil-burning options with stronger performance.
Mercedes engineers claim to have changed 1,100 parts when they transformed the old C-Class Sports Coupé into the new CLC – but you’ll be hard pressed to tell what they are from behind the wheel. The steering provides more feel than before, but dynamically it lags behind its rivals on the road. It’s closest rival, the BMW 1-Series, is both more entertaining and capable than the three-pointed star model.
Mercedes ownership doesn't come cheap and the CLC is no different, which throws its shortcomings into even sharper focus. Go mad with extras like the optional opening glass roof and the price will rocket. Equipment levels are merely reasonable given its high list prices and servicing costs are only par for the course in this sector. The CLC also has weak residual values compared to its direct rivals.
All CLC models come with ESP as standard – vital in a rear-wheel drive model like this. In environmental terms the engine line-up could be better. Even the entry-level diesel produces 152g/km of CO2 and the flagship version of the 220CDI emits 179g/km in power-sapping automatic guise.
Our Choice: 200CDI SE