Mercedes C-Class Coupe vs Lexus RC

Can economy be sexy? We find out as Mercedes’ curvy new diesel C-Class Coupe battles the hybrid Lexus RC

Buying a coupe doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice efficiency for style, nor must you prioritise performance at the expense of practicality, either.

A growing band of sleek four-seaters balances relatively small bills while attempting to deliver driving thrills, too. The latest is MercedesC-Class Coupe, and here we’re testing it in C 250d form. With the maker’s 2.1-litre diesel engine, it serves up svelte styling, punchy performance and sound efficiency.

You might not think diesel goes hand-in-hand with the image of a premium coupe, and neither does Lexus. Instead of developing these engines, the brand uses its petrol-electric hybrid powertrains to achieve impressive on-paper efficiency. Although our pictures show a Premier model, we've lined up its RC 300h coupe in racy F Sport guise for this test in a head-to-head battle with our AMG Line-spec Mercedes.

To take road test victory, the winner will have to balance all the attributes we’ve mentioned, combining the driving experience with running costs and mixing practicality with performance. But do the plaudits go to the diesel Mercedes or the hybrid Lexus?

Head-to-head

Styling

Looks are important to coupe buyers – even more so for economical models such as our duo here. The Mercedes is curvier, with softer surfaces and more organic forms contrasting with a few creases. The Lexus is simply sharp from front to back, but both models are definitely striking designs appealing to the same audience.

Engines

Despite its petrol-electric drivetrain, the RC still isn’t as clean as the diesel C-Class. However, our fuel figures show both offer respectable efficiency for sporty-looking coupes. While the Mercedes’ engine lacks the Lexus’ refinement, it’s nicer to drive – helped by the nine-speed automatic transmission. 

Ownership

Coupes need to deliver a more emotional ownership experience – especially from these premium brands. The C-Class is pleasant inside, but the RC’s build quality is more solid, while Lexus’ Driver Power performance makes it a strong long-term bet.

Verdict:

First place: Mercedes C-Class Coupe

Victory is snatched from the Lexus by a convincing margin here. Neither car is brilliant to drive, but the C-Class gets more equipment, will be cheaper to own and run plus offers extra practicality over the RC. Also, its diesel engine serves up more performance, while the smooth nine-speed auto is better suited to this type of car, aiding both long-distance cruising and driving around town.

Second place: Lexus RC

The RC proves Lexus is as competitive as it’s ever been alongside its German rivals, yet even with these frugal two-doors the model is lacking a depth of ability compared with the Mercedes. The powertrain is refined but loses out to its competitor on efficiency and performance, while the cabin isn’t as versatile, either. Also, its fussy looks won’t be to everyone’s tastes.

Is it worth waiting for this model?

Audi A5 2.0 TDI S line auto

Audi A5 - front

Due: Autumn Price: £37,500 (est)Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 187bhp 

The BMW 420d is another option here, but if you want the latest coupe around it’ll have to be the Audi A5. It follows the A4 saloon by blending gently evolved styling with efficiency, performance, refinement and a classy interior.

Figures

 Mercedes C 250d AMG Line CoupeLexus RC 300h F Sport
On-the-road price/total as tested£38,245/£44,090£37,495/£39,115
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£17,199/45.0%£14,023/37.4%
Depreciation£21,046£23,472
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£1,680/£3,361£1,498/£2,995
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,245/£2,074£1,372/£2,286
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost37/£770/C/£3035/£804/C/£30
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£35 per month (3yrs)£295/£545/£295
   
Length/wheelbase4,696/2,840mm4,695/2,730mm
Height/width1,405/1,810mm1,395/1,840mm
Engine4cyl in-line/2,143cc4cyl in-line/2,494cc
Peak power/revs 201/3,800 bhp/rpm220^^/6,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 500/1,600 Nm/rpm221/4,200 Nm/rpm
Transmission 9-spd auto/rwdCVT auto/rwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel66 litres/repair kit66 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity 400 litres340 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,645/480/1,800kg1,736/434kg/N/A
Turning circle/drag coefficient11.2 metres/N/A11.2 metres/0.28Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (unltd)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers15,500 miles (1yr)/13610,000 miles (1yr)/51
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.12th/21st*3rd/1st*
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./starsN/AN/A
   
0-60/30-70mph7.4/6.5 secs8.1/7.5 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 2.7/3.3 secs3.0 secs^
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th/9th 4.7/5.6/6.9 secs/N/A/N/A4.2 secs^
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 153mph/1,300rpm118mph/1,800rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 50.4/37.3/11.7m47.4/35.3/10.3m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph67/43/63/70dBN/A/N/A/62/71dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range48.7/10.7/707 miles44.2/9.7/642 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined58.9/74.3/67.3mpg55.4/56.5/56.5mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined13.0/16.3/14.8mpl12.2/12.4/12.4mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket155/112g/km/22%148/116g/km/20%
   
Airbags/Isofix/rear park sensors/camNine/yes/yes/yesSeven/yes/yes/yes
Auto box/stability/cruise ctrl/AEB**Yes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/no
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/£795/yesYes/yes/yes
Metallic paint/LED lights/keyless go£645/yes/£1,695***£625/yes/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yes£995/yes/yes/yes

Most Popular

New 2022 BMW M3 Touring officially confirmed
BMW 3 Series Touring

New 2022 BMW M3 Touring officially confirmed

New hot BMW M3 Touring estate on the way and it’ll feature the same 503bhp straight-six engine as the saloon. Our exclusive image previews how it coul…
12 Aug 2020
Next-generation Nissan Qashqai spied ahead of 2020 launch
Nissan Qashqai

Next-generation Nissan Qashqai spied ahead of 2020 launch

Our spy photographers have spotted the new Nissan Qashqai during its development programme – although it’s still wearing heavy camo
13 Aug 2020
New 2021 Kia Stinger facelift revealed with new look and tech
Kia Stinger

New 2021 Kia Stinger facelift revealed with new look and tech

The Kia Stinger gets a subtle new look as part of a facelift for 2021
12 Aug 2020