Used buyer's guide: Mercedes CLC

The Mercedes CLC wasn’t a showroom hit, but it's a fine second-hand buy

Don’t assume the Sports Coupe’s rarity is a sign of it being a poor used buy. It’s not the best car to come from the three-pointed star in recent years, but the prestige badge, affordable prices and hatch practicality all mean it’s worth a closer look. If you’re tempted, go for a facelifted model (04-plate onwards) as these have a more capable chassis, much better manual gearbox and improved steering – they come with more equipment, too. The CLC is better again, but none of these cars is genuinely sporty; accept that and you’re unlikely to be disappointed.

Some cars make little impact on the new market but can still be cracking used buys. Take the C-Class Sports Coupe; compact but with all the build quality you would expect of a Mercedes, this medium-sized hatch was never a big hit with UK buyers.

A facelift and CLC name change made no difference; the car was as practical as ever and came with a decent engine range, but high prices and lacklustre dynamics meant buyers still overlooked it.

History

The C-Class Sports Coupe arrived in May 2001 in C180, C180K and C320K petrol or C220 CDI diesel forms. By June 2002 the C180K had superseded the C180, as the C200K and C230K arrived. The C200 CDI debuted in June 2003, then a February 2004 facelift brought tweaked front and rear styling, plus an improved cabin.

The C160 from April 2005 was a detuned C180K; soon after came the C230, with the C350 following in September 2006.

A major facelift in June 2008 brought CLC badging, a refreshed exterior and plenty of engine options, although the interior wasn’t significantly updated.

Alternatives

Early Sports Coupes targeted the BMW 3 Series Compact, while later models rival the 1 Series. The latter gets five-door practicality, great build quality and excellent dynamics, plus some superb engines. The Audi A3 is another tough adversary; it’s well built and plentiful, good to drive and there’s a wide engine choice. Prices can be steep, though.

If you want the reassurance of a Mercedes badge, plus heaps of practicality, try a B-Class. It’s far from sporty, but is solidly built and has a huge 2,245-litre boot.

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