Mercedes’s classy coupe with a capital C

Distinctive and desirable, Mercedes-Benz has added a characterful coupe to the C-Class line-up, says Matt Joy.

It might seem like a small thing, but removing two rear doors and fiddling with the roofline to turn a saloon into a coupe signifies a significant increase in status. It's as if the degree of selfishness required having only doors for you and your passenger means you don't have to think about anyone else. Sounds daft, but we all unwittingly subscribe to it. Coup� equals success, no two ways about it.

So when you start the process with a Mercedes-Benz C-Class saloon, already a sharply-styled, desirable premium product you can rest assured the end product is going to be something of a handsome beast, with the image boost as well.

The C-Class Coupe differs significantly from the saloon with a number of changes that result in few panels being shared. The roof is lower for a start, a major change that helps to visually lengthen the car for a sleeker look. The tail kicks up in a more significant manner too, with lights and bumpers tweaked in line with the revisions to the saloon earlier this year. A further bonus is that all UK versions get the AMG Sports package as standard. While that may mean all the Coupes you see could be mistaken for an AMG version, that's no bad thing. This is a handsome, distinctive and desirable coup� – crucial factors of why you would want to buy one.

On the mechanical front, the Coupe inevitably follows the lead of the saloon, which means rear-wheel drive for superior handling and weight distribution. The engine choice is slimmed down slightly, but with three petrols (excluding the fire-breathing AMG) and two diesels, there's something to suit all needs.

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Likely to be most popular is the C250 CDI that nets you a healthy 201bhp but a more important 369lb.ft of torque from just 1,600rpm. Mate it to the excellent seven-speed automatic transmission as you will want to do, and you still get a remarkable set of figures. A top speed of 149mph and 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds is quick by any standards, but for a car that is also capable of achieving more than 53mpg on the combined cycle and emitting 139g/km of CO2 is remarkable.

The bald figures stand up when you move from the showroom brochure to the road itself. You sit ensconced in a slick and appealing cabin, helped by the same revisions that the saloon and estate benefitted from including better materials and smarter finishes. The Comand sat-nav and audio unit now has updated screen displays, Google search function and Bluetooth audio-streaming. Front-seat passengers have a panoramic view thanks to the deep windscreen and long doors, and although rear seat occupants give up a little headroom it is sufficient.

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The four-cylinder diesel is refined and smooth and picks up easily thanks to the generous torque. Smooth shifts up and down the seven ratios with a keenness to get into higher gears keeps noise levels low and fuel efficiency high, but it only takes a further squeeze of the throttle or a flick of the steering wheel-mounted paddle to access a lower ratio and increase the acceleration. Push it fully to the floor and it surges forward with a faint thrum the only indication the engine is working hard.

The looks suggest a certain level of dynamism in the driving experience and the C-Class Coupe doesn't disappoint. That classic rear-drive layout gives the driver the confidence to exploit the power on offer at every opportunity, with plenty of grip and traction. The steering and suspension, tweaked in line with revisions to the saloon, strikes an excellent balance between comfort and precision. With Sport and Manual modes for the transmission and dampers that automatically adjust for more enthusiastic driving, the Coupe is genuinely responsive when pressed while maintaining a supple ride.

Turning a saloon into an attractive coup� sounds like the work of a moment, but in truth creating something from an existing template with sufficient distinction and a personality of its own is far more complicated. The C-Class Coupe proves that Mercedes still has the nous to do just that.

Mercedes-Benz C250CDI Blue Efficiency AMG Sport

Price: �35,120

Engine: 2.1-litre, 201bhp, four-cylinder turbo diesel

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic driving the rear wheels

Performance: 0-62mph 7.1 seconds; top speed 149mph

Economy: 53.3mpg combined

co2 Emissions: 139g/km

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