Mercedes C220 CDI Coupe
Diesel version of three-door C-Class promises to be best-seller, but is it as sporty as it looks?
As you’d expect, the C-Class Coupe does much the same job as the C-Class Saloon, but adds a dash more sportiness throughout. The sleek design and high-quality cabin will tick all the boxes for buyers after a little more style, while the slightly sharper steering and improved body control will put more of a smile on your face in the corners. The lowlight however is the four-cylinder diesel engine, which is lumpy at low speeds, noisy on full throttle and feels more sluggish than 400Nm of torque would suggest; next to the BMW 320d’s unit it leaves a lot to be desired. It’s a relatively minor black mark though in another polished new model from Mercedes.
If you’re a fan of coupes, Mercedes has something for everyone. There’s the CLS, the CL, the E-Class Coupe and now you can add the C-Class Coupe, a replacement for the CLK, to that list. We’ve already driven the range-topping 480bhp AMG version, but now it’s time to test the top-seller, the 220 CDI.
Even without the full AMG treatment, Merc’s new coupe still turns plenty of heads, especially with our test car’s diamond white paintwork. All UK cars will feature the AMG Sports Package as standard - equivalent to BMW M-Sport or Audi S-line trim – which adds lower bodywork and 18-inch wheels. These add-ons, plus the car’s broad shoulder and sloping roofline (41mm lower than the four-door) give it significantly more road presence than the saloon.
Inside there’s the same dash architecture as the recently facelifted saloon, so there’s a real sense of quality to the materials, bringing it almost on a par with the Audi A5. Sports seats with integrated headrests cocoon the driven and passenger perfectly and at the pull of a lever they slide forward electrically to reveal two individual seats in the rear. It’s a snug fit back there, but perfectly comfortable for two adults on a long trip – there’s a 450-litre boot for your luggage, too.
Hit the road and the new coupe only partly manages backs up its sport appearance with driving thrills. Feedback through the chunky steering wheel isn’t fantastic, but the car reacts quickly to your inputs and feels alert on twisting country roads. Adaptive dampers are fitted as standard and do their job well, allowing the car to feel supple in a straight line, but stay flat in the bends. UK cars get the sports suspension pack which drops the body by 15mm and stiffens the springs, fortunately though it doesn’t spoil the ride. The Spanish roads on which we tested the car were as smooth as glass, so we’ll reserve our final judgement for UK Tarmac.
The seven-speed automatic gearbox is smooth enough when asked to swap cogs itself, but switch to manual mode and take control via the wheel-mounted paddles and its noticeably slower than the seven-speed auto in the AMG version – which uses a wet clutch instead of a traditional torque converter. It’s the four-cylinder diesel engine though that’s the real disappointment. Gruff at low revs and noisy on full throttle it only matches the refinement of the rest of the car when cruising at constant speed on the motorway. It feels slower than Merc’s claimed figures suggest too, although fuel economy of 53.2mpg (55.3mpg if you don’t pay £1,500 for the optional auto ‘box) gives it a theoretical range of 625 miles between fill-ups.
Other engine choices, all featuring direct-injection and all with stop-start as standard, include the 201bhp C250 CDI, two four-cylinder petrols - the C180 and C250 – with 154bhp and 201bhp respectively and the C350 fitted with a smooth 302bhp V6. Each will cost you an extra £1,600 over the equivalent Saloon, with prices starting from £30,220 for the manual C180, but you do get the same huge suite of safety equipment as an S-Class, sat-nav as standard and even free internet access when the car’s at a standstill.