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2017 Mercedes-Benz C300 Coupe: First Drive Review

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author photo by Colin Ryan July 2016

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz C300 Coupe is a low-slung, 2-door delight amid a rising tide of crossovers. It still has plenty of substance, though, thanks to a highly respected platform.

The latest generation of C-Class sedan came out in 2015, so it's thoroughly modern. This coupe variant takes things a few steps beyond, with superb styling and a sporting stance, along with a hood, front fenders and trunk lid all fashioned from aluminum. Earlier versions of C-Class coupes tended to feel like a sedan with two fewer doors, but there's a fresh confidence and athleticism here.

Design

People buy coupes for the looks, so let's get straight down to business. Every beholder has a different set of eyes, but there's a reason why coupes have long hoods, sharply angled windshields and roof lines that blend into the tail. Many people find this silhouette agreeable.

The C300 follows this formula and adds a character line along each flank that stretches from the top corner of the headlight to the top corner of the taillight. The optional diamond-pattern grille brings small chromed dots at every little intersection to become one of the prettiest things to ever grace a car's nose. Down at the other end, the tail is neat and tidy, and not unlike the bigger S-Class coupe.

This car sits 0.6 of an inch lower than its sedan counterpart and it's slightly wider. Not only does this look a little cooler, it also brings a greater sense of stability.

The interior is certainly pleasant, but the center console seems a touch too wide for the size of the cabin. It feels like it constricts the footwells. However, the analog clock is a classy addition.

The two rear seats really are constricted by the roof line and lack of legroom. But this is a compact coupe, so let's not mark the car down for that. At least the 10.5 cu ft. of trunk space means enough room for two sets of golf clubs.

Equipment

The level of standard kit is bordering on generous: 18-in alloy wheels, sport suspension, driver's-side memory settings, a panoramic sunroof and full LED lighting. Plus safety equipment that includes forward-collision prevention with autonomous braking, driver-attention assist and self-dimming mirrors. One nice little feature is the retractable seat belt valet that saves having to twist one's torso when buckling up.

Adaptive cruise control, a rearview camera, lane-keeping assist and a blind spot monitoring system are not standard, but they're on the options list.

Engine

Like so many engines these days, this is a turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. It develops 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, which is energetic without being daunting. It can propel the C300 Coupe from standstill to 60 mph in a fairly brief 5.9 seconds. It also feels like fun while it's happening, but doesn't sound particularly spine-tingling.

In standard form, just the rear wheels receive drive from the 7-speed automatic transmission. But there is the option of all-wheel drive, which Mercedes-Benz calls 4Matic.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, fuel consumption in rear-drive form is 23 miles per gallon in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined. The 4Matic version achieves 23/29/25 mpg. Admittedly, fuel use probably won't be a deal-maker or deal-breaker for a premium coupe buyer but for something with a decent level of performance, this means no real downside at the pumps.

Driving

Engine in the front, driven wheels at the back -- that's the recipe for balance. And the C300 Coupe has that balance. It feels composed, poised and willing to respond to any turn of the steering wheel. Even the 4Matic system sends most of the power to the rear wheels in normal driving conditions but can send torque within milliseconds to any wheels with the best traction.

The C300 Coupe is the only car in its class to offer the option of an air suspension. The regular car rides just fine, but this upgrade is worth having. Not only is there greater comfort, but it's adjustable for more tautness and precision.

That adjustability comes courtesy of Dynamic Select, the ability to select various driving modes such as Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. It also affects responses of the steering, throttle and transmission. Plus, it's standard equipment.

Having the shift lever on the steering column isn't really in keeping with the "enthusiast's machine" approach and it only adds to the other stalks (wipers, cruise control and turn signals). But when a driver feels the urge to take control of the transmission, then the paddle shifters are perfect.

The electric steering system has been retuned in its migration from sedan to coupe. It feels meatier, sportier and gives the driver some idea of how the front tires are behaving through the corners.

Price

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz C300 Coupe begins at $43,575. This is usually the point where some mention of pricey options crops up. Sure, it's possible to spend more money on things like leather upholstery (but check out the standard leatherette, it's really OK), heated/ventilated front seats, self parking and a head-up display, but two of the major options are quite reasonable. The 4Matic all-wheel-drive setup is $2,000 and the air suspension costs around $1,200.

There are some great choices in the premium compact-coupe scene. If previous generations of C-Class coupes have seemed somewhat half-hearted -- as if admitting that BMW did it best -- then this one makes a heroic effort to redress the balance.

To gain access to this information, Autotrader attended an event sponsored by the vehicle's manufacturer.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Mercedes-Benz C300 Coupe: First Drive Review - Autotrader