Steane Klose | Aug 11, 2008

Mercedes-Benz has announced the Australian release of its entry-level two-door - the CLC. The previous generation of Benz's most affordable two-door, the Sports Coupe, clocked up in excess of 320,000 sales across the globe since its release in 2001. Seventy percent of those sales were made by first time Mercedes-Benz buyers, forty percent of whom later traded-up to a more expensive Benz - the importance of the C-Class coupe is not to be underestimated.

This time around, Mercedes-Benz is introducing three specification levels, Standard, Evolution and Evolution+. For those looking for a little more sporting flair, the two Evolution variants may appeal. Both Evolution models include uniquely-designed 17-inch light-alloy wheels, wide-base tyres, bi-xenon headlamps with cornering light function and headlamp cleaning system, and a new direct-steer system. The direct-steer system is based on the standard speed-sensitive power steering but includes a variable rack ratio which alters as the steering angle changes. The result is that less lock is required when cornering.

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All CLC models feature a race-like instrument cluster with red needles for the speedometer and rev counter. There's a nifty touch on starting: when the engine is switched on, the needles sweep once across the dials before returning to their start positions.

Mercedes says that its designers have completely redesigned the front and rear of the CLC, taking design cues from the S-Class, C-Class and the CL-Class-Coupe. The result is a Sports Coupé that embodies the contemporary Mercedes design idiom with its distinctive coupé radiator grille featuring a large Mercedes star in the centre, and new projection-beam headlamps.

Behind the redesigned tailgate lies a variable boot with up to 1100 litres of luggage capacity. There are new tail lights and a long row of LEDs that make up the third brake light unit.

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The interior of the CLC is typical Mercedes quality. Mercedes-Benz describes it as akin to a "contemporary tailor-made suit - custom-fit and comfortable". Sports seats with plenty of lateral support, a three-spoke multifunction steering wheel, automatic climate control and brushed aluminium trim elements are all on the standard features list.

For the standard model, a choice of ARTICO/fabric upholstery combinations in black, alpaca grey and a combination of black and red are available. Leather will cost you more.

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Under the bonnet can be found Mercedes' proven supercharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, but power is up and its seven percent more fuel efficient than before. Power is now 135kW (up 15kW) while fuel consumption is down to 8.4 L/100km (automatic transmission model) - the equivalent of around 0.6 litres less than before. For those preferring a manual, the news is even better with manual transmission equipped CLC's averaging 7.8 L/100km on the combined cycle.

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A five-speed automatic transmission is fitted as standard equipment, with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters being part of the package on the Evolution and Evolution+ models. The six-speed manual transmission is available as a no-cost option.

Mercedes-Benz CLC equipment and technical highlights;

Cornering light system: This bi-xenon headlamp lighting function provides more safety at road junctions and driving slowly around tight bends.

Only in conjunction with bi-xenon headlamps

Adaptive front airbags: The front airbags are deployed in two stages depending on impact severity.

Standard

Bi-xenon headlamps: Gas-discharge lamps for main and low beam improve safety when driving at night.

Standard with EVOLUTION and EVOLUTION +

COMAND APS: Infotainment system incorporating DVD-based navigation, AM/FM radio, CD/DVD player and convenience telephone keypad

Optional

Direct-steer system: Based on the speed-sensitive power steering, a steering rack with a variable, sporty, dynamic ratio has been developed that provides a more direct response on bends and thus more agile handling.

Standard with EVOLUTION and EVOLUTION +

ESP®: This driver safety system can reduce the risk of skidding when cornering and alerts the driver to any loss of tyre pressure.

Standard

Headlamp Assist: A sensor on the windscreen detects low light conditions and automatically switches on the vehicle lights.

Standard

Belt-force limiter: This technology reduces the force exerted by the belt strap on the seat occupant during a crash.

Standard

Belt tensioner: Any slack in the seat belt strap is instantly taken up during a crash to reduce the forward movement of the occupants caused by the impact.

Standard

THERMATIC automatic climate control: This system controls two temperature zones and offers numerous adjustments for individual passenger comfort.

Standard

THERMOTRONIC luxury automatic climate control system: This system provides two-zone climate control for the interior, and includes further functions such as diffused, draught-free ventilation, and combination filter with air quality sensor.

Fitted as standard to EVOLUTION + but optional on the other two variants

Multifunction steering wheel: The radio, telephone, navigation system, display and other devices can be operated from the steering wheel.

Standard

Paintwork: Nano-technology makes the paint finish more scratch-resistant and ensures a higher sheen.

Standard

LINGUATRONIC: The voice-operated control system operates the radio, CD player, CD changer, navigation system and telephone - using whole-word commands for the first time.

Optional and only available in conjunction with COMAND APS

Memory function: Three memory settings are stored for both the driver's and the front passenger seat. The settings for the steering wheel and exterior mirrors are also stored.

Fitted as standard to EVOLUTION +

Panoramic sliding sunroof: A large glass surface extending from the front windscreen to the rear window. The front section slides to the rear at the touch of a button.

Fitted as standard to EVOLUTION + but optional on the other two variants

PARKTRONIC: Ultrasound sensors assist the driver when parking.

Standard

Sidebags: These airbags reduce the risk of injury during a collision from the side.

Standard

Sound system: A 12-speaker 320W multi-channel system with innovative digital technology allows all passengers to enjoy surround sound.

Optional

Sports suspension: Firmer spring and shock-absorber set‑up; the body is lowered by 15 millimetres at the front and 5 millimetres at the rear.

Standard

Windowbags: This large airbag extends from the A to the C‑pillar like a curtain during a collision from the side.

Standard

Mercedes-Benz CLC specifications and pricing;

Model

Power

Torque

0-100km/h

Price*

Available

CLC 200 KOMPRESSOR

135 kW

250 Nm

8.6 secs

$49,900

Now

CLC 200 KOMPRESSOR EVOLUTION

135 kW

250 Nm

8.6 secs

$53,900

Now

CLC 200 KOMPRESSOR EVOLUTION +

135 kW

250 Nm

8.6 secs

$58,988**

Now

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