Mercedes C-Class

Buying a coupe usually means compromise. What you gain in looks you lose in accommodation, and the pin-sharp handling can result in a lumpy urban ride.

The changes to the Mercedes Sports Coup� have improved its ride and handling, although not to the point where it is a class leader. If you like the looks and can afford the price, the newcomer makes a good buy.

Buying a coupe usually means compromise. What you gain in looks you lose in accommodation, and the pin-sharp handling can result in a lumpy urban ride.

But there's good news on the horizon as Mercedes' smallest entry into the two-door market, the C-Class Sports Coupe, now gets revised suspension settings and new steering to try to address these problems.

In town, the car copes well with broken roads, and although larger bumps can still be felt, it rarely loses its composure. At motorway speeds, the ride remains well controlled, making travelling long distances effortless.

Take a back road instead, and the Mercedes holds its own against direct rivals such as BMW's 3-Series Coup�. There's plenty of grip, and even mid-corner imperfections in the road surface fail to throw it off line. However, keen driving does tend to highlight the model's lack of steering feel compared to that of competitors.

What's more, the brake pedal has a lot of travel before the all-disc set-up bites, although the stopping power is good. Engine-wise, the 2.2-litre diesel in the C220 CDI driven here remains the wisest choice of powerplant.

Combined with the five-speed automatic gearbox, the unit offers enough performance for most conditions, yet it can also return more than 40mpg when driven sensibly. Inside the Sports Coupe is also a pleasant place in which to spend time, with clever design and good materials, although the gearknob feels as if it's made of cheap, hollow plastic.

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