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Mercedes C-Class coupe doesn't disappoint

AAP logoAAP 17/08/2016 Peter Atkinson

Two-door Mercedes-Benz.

Surely the most alluring set of hyphenated words in the English language.

They conjure up images of iconic cars like the famous Benz SL Gullwing or those big, elegant S-Class coupes of the `80s and `90s.

Somehow, though, two-door machines wearing the famous three-point star have always seemed largely out of reach - the kind of cars driven only by movie stars, corporate bankers and professional sportsmen.

But times have changed in that rarefied Mercedes-Benz world.

You no longer need to have a six-figure bank account or a medical degree to get behind the wheel of a two-door Benz.

These days, it's a privilege that won't cost you more than a premium family sedan - give or take a few grand. Benz's latest two-door, the gorgeous looking C-Class coupe, can be had for a spend of roughly $65,000.

That doesn't make it quite an everyday machine - but it's one that is within the reach of a fast-growing market of aspirational owners. Not surprisingly, they're snapping up this C-Class coupe in rapid time - as they have with its all-conquering four-door sibling.

While it might lack some of the spacious luxury of two-door Benzes from the past, it still has the required components - two doors, four seats and that famous three-pointed star on the bonnet.

The C-Class sedan, upon which this car is based, could scarcely have garnered more praise in the two years since its launch - just about every award imaginable.

The coupe retains virtually all of those traits (except for back-seat accessibility, of course) and adds some virtues of its own.

For a start it's beautifully designed - perfect proportions, elegant lines and the most pert of rear ends - and it's very clearly a coupe by birth, rather than a converted sedan.

Oddly, Mercedes - like most makers - charges more for the coupe than for the more practical sedan - which has more seats and, with more moving parts, must surely cost more to make.

But coupe buyers are invariably happy to pay a premium and, looking at this car, it's no wonder. Boy, is it pretty.

The coupe is bigger than the model it replaces - about 95mm longer and 40mm wider, meaning more space inside that beautiful cockpit.

Even at entry level it's well equipped - including AMG trim and wheels, automated seat-belt feeders, integrated sports seats with memory function and a 360-degree parking camera. You'll also enjoy satellite navigation, digital DAB radio with premium speakers plus and active park assist - and on the safety side, nine airbags and radar cruise control with autonomous braking.

That's quite a package for a car costing less than $70 grand.

We tested the coupe in its most basic form - the entry-level C200 with its 135kW, 300Nm, four-cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine.

Lesser-powered versions like this one sometimes tend to be more show than go - but the C200 didn't disappoint. Its power numbers might sound modest for a substantial car but, in reality, it's still an impressively sharp and engaging device.

Acceleration is particularly smart in the mid-range, where it's surprisingly torquey and, as it gathers pace, the engine spins willingly with a rorty exhaust note.

Its compliant ride characteristics don't detract from its sturdy, sure-footed handling, with taut, direct steering and impressive balance when asked to change direction quickly. Not quite as sporty as it looks, but certainly capable of pleasing those who will typically buy this machine.

Anyway, most buyers will be less worried about going fast - rather, they'll be cruising past slowly enough that everybody gets a good look at who's behind the wheel.

The C200 makes do with Benz's outgoing seven-speed auto - models further up the family tree get an all-new 9G-Tronic nine-speeder that improves performance and fuel efficiency.

The range stretches from the base-model C200 to a frugal C250D turbo-diesel ($74,900), a C300 turbo petrol variant ($83,400) that squeezes 180kW out of its 2-litre turbo four; topped off by the stonking C63 AMG - with a twin-turbo V8 and a 0-100km/h sprint of 3.9 seconds - at the top of the tree. That car will cost you almost three times the price of the entry-level model - with almost three times the power.

That's a car that takes the two-door Mercedes-Benz to an entirely new place.

MERCEDES-BENZ C200 COUPE

HOW BIG? It's 10cm longer and 4cm wider than the previous model - with expanded headroom and shoulder room. The two rear seats are snug without being claustrophobic.

HOW FAST? Even with a fairly mild-mannered four-cylinder engine, it's still a feisty thing that will reach the speed limit in about 7 seconds. If you have the need for more speed, Benz has plenty more power up the ranks.

HOW THIRSTY? Its 6.6L/100km is pretty reasonable, although the slightly more expensive turbo-diesel model sips a frugal 4.4L/100km.

HOW MUCH? Even though it looks a million bucks, you can get into a C200 Coupe for $65,900 plus onroads. The fire-breathing AMG C63 option costs almost three times that much.

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