The C-Class is an undisputed success story for Mercedes-Benz, having sold 8.5 million examples worldwide since its introduction in 1982. The coupe unveiled here at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show capitalizes on that success, offering a sporty spinoff that will square off against competitors like the BMW 3-Series coupe and Audi A5 when it hits US showrooms this September.
Don’t let its subtle exterior changes fool you: the C-Class has undergone the most comprehensive facelift in Mercedes history for the 2012 model year, receiving increased power, better fuel economy, and more than 2,000 new components. Though the coupe has shorter overhangs and less styling flourishes compared to BMW and Audi‘s more elongated shapes, the C coupe’s jaunty silhouette offers a leaner, more athletic stance compared to its four-door counterpart.
The new C-Class coupe will be available in two versions: the C250 and the C350, both of which are powered by direct-injected engines. The C250 gets a 1.8 liter turbocharged 4 cylinder engine that produces 201 horsepower and 229 lb-ft of torque, while the C350 packs a beefier 3.5 liter V6 capable of 302 hp and 273 lb-ft. Zero to 60 mph will be achieved in 7.1 and 5.9 seconds, respectively. A seven-speed 7G-Tronic transmission directs power to the rear wheels on both models, which are clad with 17-inch wheel/tire combinations with fairly aggressive 225/45 rubber up front, and 245/40s at the rear.
While European versions of the C-Class can claim as much as a 31 percent improvement in fuel economy thanks in part to a standard engine stop/start we won’t be receiving Stateside, our four-cylinder achieves a combined fuel economy figure of 24 mpg, while the V6 should manage a 22 mpg combined average. Also absent from the US version is an onboard telematics system that enables internet access when the vehicle is at a standstill. The Europe-only COMAND Online system will also include Google Local Search and weather information; there’s no word yet on if and when this technological feature will be available in the US.
As with the sedan, the coupe’s standard equipment list has grown, and now includes a Napa leather-lined steering wheel, power/tilt panorama sunroof, dual-zone climate control, HD Radio with Bluetooth, and aluminum interior trim, among other niceties. A lengthier list of available safety features adds Attention Assist (which detects drowsiness), Blind Spot Assist, and Lane Keeping Assist (a system which gives a warning indicator and vibrates the steering wheel when lane wandering is detected.) One purely aesthetic note: the youthful matte black paint finish we saw at Geneva isn’t just for show, and will be available to consumers as an option from the factory.
While the C250 and C350 should offer strong competition against similarly priced European coupes, we attended an after hours preview in Geneva that gave us a sneak peek at an intriguing AMG version of the C Coupe. We’re sworn to secrecy on the details, but suffice to say that the BMW M3 and Audi S6 will have plenty to worry about when the AMG C-Class Coupe eventually makes it to market.
BASEM WASEF is an automotive journalist, author, and photographer with two coffee table books under his belt, and is a regular contributor to Popular Mechanics, Robb Report, and Maxim among others. When Basem isn’t traveling the globe testing vehicles, he enjoys calling Los Angeles home.