Mercedes CLC 220

Latest three-door C-class has landed on British roads – does it offer anything new?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

WE can’t help but feel short-changed by Mercedes’ latest addition. While the C-Class has been redesigned from the ground up, its coupé brother represents a more cynical restyle. It looks good and has a more practical cabin and boot than many rivals, but the underpinnings are showing their age. The CLC is built for the catwalk, and not the open road.

THE fast-growing Mercedes model line-up now comprises three CL-badged coupés – all of which fit very different budgets.

At the top of the pile is the luxury CL, with the distinctive four-door CLS following close behind. Both have proved so popular that the company has come up with a new name – the CLC – to describe its latest three-door C-Class.

However, a quick glance at the pictures will show that despite the fresh badge, this is no all-new car. The CLC shares many panels and parts with its Sports Coupé predecessor. While Mercedes bosses claim that 1,100 components have been replaced or changed, the car’s compact shape and rising waistline remain.

Still, the CLC is a fine-looking three-door. The front end is shared with the C-Class saloon, while the more conservative rear has a classy finish.

Inside, it’s a different story. The cabin is very similar to that of the old C-Class, and as a result plastics and trim quality are well short of those in Mercedes’ latest compact executive model.

On the road, the car is hindered by its ageing underpinnings, too. One of the biggest changes is the introduction of a new direct-steer system. It’s a significant improvement, with less artificial weighting than on the previous generation, but it’s still not as responsive in corners as we would expect from a coupé.

The suspension on our Sport model has been lowered by 15mm at the front and 5mm at the rear. But even though all variants feed power to the rear wheels, the CLC makes a better cruiser than it does a sports car, particularly with its decent ride comfort.

Buyers have the choice of four petrol and two turbodiesel engines in either SE or Sport trim. Prices start from £19,920 for the entry-level CLC 180 K. Upgrading to the Sport adds £1,100, but brings £2,000 worth of extras, including sports suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels and metallic paint. Our car also had the £1,400 Panorama package, complete with wide-opening sunroof.

Entry to Mercedes’ coupé club has never been more stylish – we just wish the sleek body was wrapped around an all-new C-Class, rather than the old Sports Coupé.

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