REVIEW: Why the Mercedes C-Class is still the premium coupe to beat

Mercedes-Benz is on a bit of a roll at the moment. You just have to look at local sales numbers, which are going through the roof and pushing the German luxury brand into ninth place in Australia for total car sales.

While SUVs have played a big part in that success, the company’s staple C-Class sedan also helped. Since the current iteration’s release in 2014 it has received nothing but praise and numerous car of the year awards.

Now finally, Mercedes has released its C-Class coupe in Australia, chopping off the rear doors and trading practicality for sporty looks.

It’s easily the best looking C-Class coupe the Germans have ever released, stealing the design from the larger, more expensive S-Class coupe. There’s also an AMG-Line body styling as standard to help the sportiness.

Once you step inside the car, the cabin is almost a carbon copy of the sedan version. And by no means is that a bad thing. There are quality materials throughout, as expected with a car of this prestige. It’s genuinely one of the nicest places you can be in for a car at this price.

The infotainment system is easy to use, with a high resolution screen in the centre console operated by a dial.

The only real difference between the coupe and sedan is the loss of rear space that comes with removing a couple of doors and lower seating position.

And those rear seats are very much like most coupes – almost unusable for anyone but your kids. I’m 175cm (5’9″) and with the driver’s seat in my preferred position leg room in the rear was non-existent.

The C-Class Coupe comes with three different variants, all sporting different engines. There’s the 135kW/300Nm C200 2.0-litre petrol for $65,990, 150kW/500Nm C250 2.1-litre diesel for $74,990 and the 180kW/370Nm C300 2.0-litre petrol for $83,400. The petrol models feature a 7-speed G-Tronic automatic gearbox, while the diesel gets a new 9-speed.

No matter which engine you have, cars generally have the same handling and comfort dynamics driving around, just with different poke levels the more powerful you get.

In the default comfort drive setting, especially with the optional Airmatic suspension – the car is smooth and handles bumps very well. While the standard suspension is fine, you’ll really notice the difference in low speeds that the Airmatic option provides.

Turn one the sports or sports plus setting using the rolling toggle in the centre console and the car manages to keep a good degree of smoothness on the road while also sharpening up the cornering ability to have some fun on back roads.

Out of the three driving options, the middle sports setting is easily the best. If you have it in comfort, the car’s all too eager to change into the highest gear in the name of saving petrol, while sports plus is quite twitchy and holds onto gears forever. Sport is just right.

We got to take all three of the cars for a drive around the Yarra Valley, with plenty of chances to to give each engine a good run.

The entry level C200 was a pleasant surprise, and while by no means the final word in performance, it still has enough go to make it a viable option. However the raspy, soulless exhaust note will likely leave people wanting more.

Even more surprising than the C200 was the C250d, with its 150kW/500Nm diesel engine. That mountain of torque is immediately noticeable, with the power lower in the rev range suiting every day driving much more than the other two models. You’ll just have to put up with everyone who hears you drive past confusing you with a tradie’s ute.

And lastly, the flagship C300 before the AMG models arrive. There’s plenty of power whenever you want it, and the sports exhaust sounds great. There’s even some fun pops when you change up gears.

All three models are genuinely fun to drive, and while they’re definitely not genuine sports cars, they make a great entry-level grand tourer.

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