Mercedes C320 Sports Coupe

We've always felt disappointed by the C-Class Sports Coupe. Although sharply styled and impeccably built, it has traditionally lacked the driver appeal of rivals such as the BMW 320ti Compact.

The C320 is by far the best Sports Coup�, finally giving the performance and refinement for which its maker is renowned. But it's expensive. A cheaper version with sports suspension and a less comprehensive spec list would be a much more sensible proposition.

We've always felt disappointed by the C-Class Sports Coupe. Although sharply styled and impeccably built, it has traditionally lacked the driver appeal of rivals such as the BMW 320ti Compact.

Until now, that is... By shoehorning the 3.2-litre V6 from the SLK under the bonnet, Mercedes has created an impressive yet discreet car that lives up to the Sports Coupe's name. With 310Nm of torque at only 3,000rpm, the C320 has incredibly smooth power delivery, while the throaty exhaust note encourages you to plant the throttle and make the most of the wide rev range.

The power also shows how capable the chassis is. A fluent throttle makes the car easy to balance, while it has pleasantly weighted steering, too. And we'd recommend our test car's £1,750 Evolution Pack. As well as 17in alloys and a panoramic glass sunroof, the option adds lowered sports suspension. It gives a slightly choppy ride, but offers much better body control - an essential addition given the performance.

Our car also had the £1,450 Tipfunction auto box. Replacing the six-speed manual, it has five ratios with both fully automatic or sequential changes. It helps deliver incredibly smooth acceleration, while sequential use gives quick shifts and is much less jerky than the manual in town. Otherwise, the C320 offers the same attributes as lesser Sports Coupes. These include an excellent driving position and well designed cabin, but, as ever, cramped rear seats.

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