How Merc's new Coupe turns on the style
First Drive in Malaga: Mercedes C-Class Coupe
When I saw the Mercedes C-Class Coupe at the Frankfurt Motor Show I thought it was one of just a few cars that made a lasting visual impression.
I happen to think, for once, I was right. You'll get your own chance to decide when it gets here around mid-December. I'm told there is 'significant' interest in it. I'm not surprised.
But looks are one thing. What is it like to drive? Just before that, let's nail down a few details.
Prices begin at €44,550 for the 1.5-litre, 156hp C180 petrol. Then there are three 2-litre versions: a 184hp C200 from €45,860, a 211hp C250 at €50,265 and a 245hp C300 at €54,080.
Of the two diesels, each 2,143cc, the 170hp C220d begins at €45,900 while the 204hp C250d automatic starts at €51,470.
This is a long, long way from its forerunner so comparative dimensions aren't that relevant, but it is still 95mm longer and 40mm wider and has an 80mm longer wheelbase.
There is more cabin room, especially for six-footers like me. I noticed I had good shoulder, elbow and headroom. And the seats were excellent. I could have driven all day. Rear space, as you'd expect in a 2dr coupe, is for the younger, more agile ones.
I think the cabin in the saloon and estate are exceptional and this mirrors both. It is testament to the original C-Class design that it looks so fresh in this.
The Coupe sits a bit lower than the saloon - the suspension is dropped by 15mm and that helps the profile and the driving. Air suspension is an option. You can get AMG body styling (special bumpers and sills, chromed diamond-effect radiator grille and 18ins light alloys) if you want to splash out a bit.
Standard spec, increasingly a contest area between the luxury marques, now includes Artico leather upholstery, heated front seats, sat nav, parking assistance and LED static lights.
But if you want serious fun then there are two AMG versions (C63 and C63S).
While both draw on the same 3,982cc engine, the former pumps 476hp (0-100kmh in 4.0 secs) while the latter develops 510hp (3.9secs).
These power machines look bigger with their large flared wings, power domes on the aluminium bonnet, twin-blade radiator grille and large air intakes. Prices for these start above the €100,000 mark.
Standard safety elements include the marque's driver drowsiness alert system and one that automatically applies brake pressure to help prevent collisions.
ON THE ROAD: I drove the 250 diesel with a 9spd automatic gearbox. They have insulated noise better in this than in anything else I've driven with that engine under the bonnet. Which meant a distinct absence of intrusive growl under acceleration. The lower-powered 220 diesel will be the main seller here but take a look at the 250 - that extra bit of power was great.
This is a car I think appeals to both younger and more mature drivers for a couple of reasons. First, it was just so easy to drive. Second, I think the mix of new and classic lines - especially at the rear - show how style, like class, is permanent and not a passing fad. And, please, take a look at it in (Hyacinth) red.
In terms of testing dynamics, we didn't go to extremes but I pushed it a nice bit on long bends at fair speed and there wasn't a hint of stress or of the rear end coming away.
I'm certain there are quicker cars. But this was always composed in a way that isn't designed to thrill as such.
It is more a car I enjoyed driving just for the fun of it. What's wrong with that?
On the track: That is not to say it can't match the best of them - and the BMW 4-series Coupe is probably its nearest rival.
So if you want to see what an AMG version can do, get one of them onto a track (they expect a few buyers in Ireland).
That's what we did here at the Circuito Ascari racetrack near Malaga. Different car altogether. Enough said.