Mercedes’ take on the 2.0L turbo-four is one of the better ones in the class.
Mercedes-Benz has been on a bit of a renaissance lately. There are several talking points: the first is the great nomenclature shuffle, where most of the brand’s crossover utility vehicles assumed new names to better match up with their sedan counterparts, and the sheer dominance of pretty much everything that had the two numbers “63” attached to it. Gone are the days of the iron-fisted German muscle car; many of their sports cars can be considered incredibly well-rounded these days – whether at home on the city streets or attacking the racetrack. Mercedes has embraced forced-induction and displacement downsizing, but they’ve remained faithful to the V8 engine. As much as we love turbocharged V8s, Mercedes’ bread-and-butter these days is the turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and we got an opportunity to sample it in the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C 300 Coupe, finished in an attractive Brilliant Blue Metallic.
The C-Class has been a perennial strong seller in Canada, with the most success coming with the W204 C-Class that arrived for the 2008 model year. The vast majority sold in Canada were equipped with 4MATIC all-wheel drive, following the lead of BMW with their xDrive offerings, and Audi, with their natural quattro marketing machine. For a long time, the C-Class focused on delivering luxury to its driver and occupants, where the BMW 3-Series (reviewed here) focused on the driver experience. As time went on, those objectives blurred somewhat, and some models seemed to swap the two goals, with some criticism leveled at BMW for becoming a little too cushy, and Mercedes surprising the enthusiast community with some excellent driver’s cars.
The latest C-Class, new for the 2015 model year, bucks the trend somewhat, in how its design has advanced. In the past, if you put a C-Class and S-Class side-by-side, it would be pretty easy to point out the entry-level Mercedes, as opposed to the traditional flagship. This has changed significantly for the latest generation. Building on the success of the newest Mercedes flagship, the C-Class now looks more like a smaller version of the S-Class. This is most evident in the sedan version of both cars, but the C-Class Coupe also happens to look the S-Class Coupe (reviewed here). From the shape of the headlights, to side profiles, both cars feature a remarkable familial connection. In short, this is a handsome car. The C-Class Coupe is attractive enough to turn heads, and the blue in particular was good enough to garner compliments throughout the week.
The C-Class Coupe features a shorter roofline than the sedan, which makes for a sleeker and sportier stance. On a practical front, the coupe has a 15mm lower ride height than the sedan. Frameless windows and backlit door sills (part of the Premium Plus Package) round out the added luxury touches. This particular tester came equipped with the Premium Package, which includes LED headlights (as opposed to the standard halogen reflectors), and the Sport Package, which includes an AMG-style body kit (front and rear bumpers, side skirts), 18-inch AMG wheels, and a brighter front grille (read: more chrome). Alternate AMG multi-spoke wheels (with Continental summer tires) were fitted for an additional $1,000.
As attractive as the exterior is on the C-Class Coupe, the interior really pushes the design boundaries. Simply put, this is a gorgeous interior. The optional open-pore wood covers the majority of the centre console, and the satin and stainless steel accents add contrast without being too shiny. Compared to the spartan interior of the BMW 4-Series (reviewed here), the C-Class chases a progressive and ultra-modern look. A big difference in philosophy lies in how the gear selector is designed: Mercedes has opted to move the traditional console shifter to a small stalk on the steering column, where a lot of cars would have their windshield wiper controls. It takes some getting used to, but this design allows you to keep your hands on the wheel. The downside is that there isn’t really a place to rest your hands anymore. Audi, in particular, lays out the armrest and gear selector to fall perfectly to hand.
The interior is fitting of a personal coupe, with a slightly cozier feel around the driver. Close the door, hit the engine start button, and the seatbelts are handed to you by an electric helper, so you don’t have to reach all the way back to the B-pillar. The engine audibly comes to life and settles to a quiet hum, ready to go. The audio and navigation system starts up, and on this particular car, the Burmester Premium Sound system with its 13 speakers fills the cabin with music, or in my case, podcasts. Regardless: audio quality is fantastic, coming somewhat close to the flagship systems. If anything, it’s worth considering simply because the laser-cut aluminum speaker grilles add so much to the interior’s overall look and feel.
The up-level COMAND infotainment interface features a fixed 8.4-inch non-touchscreen that you interact with via the integrated touchpad or rotary dial. The touchpad features character recognition and pinch-to-zoom, like on today’s smartphones. However, it doesn’t quite feature the same tactile feedback as seen on other touchpad interfaces in the Lexus RC coupe, for instance. Thankfully, the rotary dial is situated immediately below the touchpad and provides an alternate interface, complete with tactile feedback.
Under the hood of the C 300 Coupe isn’t a 3.0L six-cylinder engine as it would be in the past. Mercedes-Benz has hopped on the increasingly-crowded bandwagon with their own take on the turbocharged 2.0L gasoline four-cylinder engine. Boasting the latest technologies such as direct injection, water-to-air intercooling, and a twin-scroll turbo, engine output is a respectable 241 horsepower at 5500RPM, and a class-competitive 273 lb-ft of torque from 1300-4000RPM. Peak torque comes on early just off idle, and turbo lag isn’t really an issue – Mercedes-Benz does a good job tuning this engine to deliver most of its power in real-world urban and suburban scenarios. It’s a quiet, modern and refined powerplant: synthetic engine sounds are played through the audio system to enhance the feel of performance, all while the C 300 Coupe pulls strongly to 100km/h from a stop, in 6.0 seconds. If you desire more, the C 43 and C 63 are available with a 3.0L V6 and a 4.0L V8 – both of which are also turbocharged.
The C 300 Coupe sends this practical power through their 7-speed “7G-TRONIC” automatic transmission, to all four wheels by way of their 4MATIC system. Shift quality is generally very smooth, and the programming doesn’t hesitate to use the low-rpm turbo torque to get up to speed, instead of downshifting. The default Comfort mode is good enough for everyday use, with the Sport and Sport+ modes recalibrating the steering feel, transmission kick-down behaviour, and throttle response. What sets the C-Class apart is its optional AIRMATIC air suspension – there isn’t a competitor out there in this class that offers air suspension availability. Offering self-leveling and unique configurability, cars equipped with this option can offer much greater latitude between their softest and firmest settings.
One of the goals of today’s engine downsizing in conjunction with forced induction, is greater efficiency. Mercedes-Benz rates the C 300 Coupe at 10.4L/100km in the city, and 8.0L/100km on the highway. My week consisted of mixed driving, and I ended up with an indicated average of 9.5L/100km over about 500km. This is a fairly impressive figure considering all the time spent with the turbos spooled up – and the Engine Dynamics display on the screen pegged at 273lb-ft of torque output. The C 300 Coupe will hold 66L of premium 91-octane fuel.
The Mercedes-Benz C 300 4MATIC Coupe starts at $48,100 for the base model. You don’t get things like the LED headlights (a must, in my books), satellite navigation, or even a rear-view reverse camera. The $3,400 Premium Package adds in those aforementioned essentials. My tester also came equipped with the $3,000 Premium Plus package, which gets you a power closing trunk, keyless access and start, PARKTRONIC active parking assist, and some ambient lighting inside and out. The Sport Package adds another $2,000, and this shade of Brilliant Blue Metallic adds $890. For stand-alone options: the dark ash open pore wood trim is $250, AIRMATIC air suspension adds $1,800, and the upgraded Burmester audio system is $1,000. After checking all those option boxes, the as-tested price on this fully-loaded C 300 4MATIC Coupe is $61,440.
One thing to keep in mind: being too overzealous with all those options can see your C 300 exceed the base price of the up-level C43 Coupe, which includes some options, as standard. It’s up to you, whether you’re after the luxury features and options, or the upgraded powertrain. An additional 121hp and a 9-speed automatic transmission should be fairly tempting.
The personal luxury coupe is a market that has seen some reductions in the wake created by the crossover utility vehicle. More and more people are jumping into mid-sized luxury crossovers, even if they’re the only occupant in the vehicle, most of the time. Regardless of today’s trends, there’s actually a fair amount of competition in this segment, from others in Germany, Japan, and the United States. All are essentially two-door versions of their mainstream four-door sedans; with more style and less second-row space if you don’t really need it.
BMW’s 4-Series is an obvious competitor, with similar specifications, down to horsepower, size, and powertrain layout. The BMW 430i xDrive is a little less exciting – Mercedes-Benz has it beat on the design portfolio, with its progressive interior and exterior, as opposed to the conservative look and feel of the BMW. Audi’s newest A5 hasn’t landed on our shores yet, but expect it to fit into a similar mould, complete with a 2.0L turbo-four and Quattro all-wheel drive. Cadillac’s ATS Coupe brings along its excellent chassis, but also some quirks by way of its CUE infotainment system. One more offbeat competitor is the Lexus RC Coupe, which has a unique (if not polarizing) look all its own, and standard V6 smoothness.
The Mercedes-Benz C 300 4MATIC Coupe builds on the success of the latest C-Class sedan, with increased style, street presence, and a modern driving experience. Mercedes’ take on the 2.0L turbo-four is one of the better ones in the class, and its interior design, while subjective, really does redefine the standard for what premium should feel like in this class. Its overall goodness should see it close to the top of your shopping list.