2013 MERCEDES-BENZ C-CLASS COUPE REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Luxury coupe
Price: $78,550 (plus on-roads) | $85,870 (as-tested)
Fuel Economy claimed: 6.9 l/100km | tested: 8.6 l/100km
Not everyone is cut out to be an athlete. While some of us can tackle a marathon, most of us break into a sweat at the mere sight of a staircase.
But that inconvenient truth doesn’t put a dent in the sales of tracksuits, sports shoes or bicycles. It’s all about projecting an image. And it’s the same with cars.
The practice of appending the word “Sport” to a car’s nameplate and slapping on a bodykit is certainly not new.
But that’s not the case. A raft of tuning changes by AMG have resulted in a car that handles exceptionally well, looks sublime and is ‘quick enough’ if not outright ‘quick’.
It’s not a true athlete - it’s no hard-edged razor - but it’s far from being a couch potato.
Quality: Being one of Mercedes’ newer models, the interior of the C-Class coupe is a nice place to spend time in.
Quality of fit and finish is superb, and besides a few of the centre-stack buttons not feeling quite as premium as they should, this is a fine cabin.
It’s augmented by a number of AMG Sport-specific touches. The red seatbelts pop out against the black interior, as does the red contrast-stitching on the steering wheel, seats, door trims and centre console.
Rubber-studded stainless steel pedals are another feature of the C 250 Sport, and they complement the silver metallic trim on the dash, steering wheel and doors.
Comfort: For the C 250 Sport, Mercedes has fitted a pair of heavily bolstered part-leather, part-alcantara seats. There’s no electric adjustment, but they offer excellent comfort and great support.
We did a six-hour stint behind the wheel, and emerged from the C 250 without any aches whatsoever. These are most definitely good seats.
Even the back seat is comfortable. There’s a bit of contorting required to get into the back, but once seated there’s a decent amount of room even for tall adults.
Rear air outlets are also a plus.
Equipment: As standard, the C 250 Sport comes with all the usual luxuries: cruise control, dual-zone climate control, trip computer, speed limiter, rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlamps, Bluetooth integration, USB input and satellite navigation.
Our tester was optioned up with the Vision Package, which adds a Harmon Kardon surround sound system, bi-xenon headlamps and a panoramic sliding glass sunroof that spans almost the entire roof area.
Storage: Seats up, there’s a sizable 450 litres of luggage room. It was enough to swallow up the luggage of three people for a weekend away, with a bit of room to spare.
The rear seats fold down to expand luggage capacity too, should you need it.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The C 250 Sport’s 1.8 litre turbocharged petrol four isn’t overwhelmingly powerful.
Its 150kW of power and 310Nm of torque is bettered by most modern hot hatches. With a 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.2 seconds, straight line performance is brisk rather than spearing.
But this engine has strong low and midrange torque, and is tractable and effortless around town. Once moving, it’s hard to believe this is merely a 1.8 litre.
It’s not as good off the line though, and can feel a bit leisurely getting away from the lights - especially when in the default Eco drive mode.
Eco mode dulls throttle response and makes the seven-speed transmission shift sooner, with the result being increased fuel efficiency at the cost of sluggish performance.
It’s easily remedied by switching over to Manual or Sport mode though, and in these modes the Sport gets a more aggressive throttle map than the regular C 250. The result is better responsiveness and a sharper turn of speed.
In manual mode, the gearbox performs very well. Upshifts are crisp and quick, and downshifts are nicely rev-matched. It’s not quite as fast through the gears as the twin-clutch automatic in the A 250 Sport, but, as far as hydraulic automatics, go this is a rather good one.
Refinement: Although the engine may be unchanged internally, the exhaust has been modified by AMG to produce a throatier note inside the cabin - and it works.
The C 250 Sport has a pleasing rumble to its exhaust sound when under load, and it even pops and burbles on upshifts at full throttle.
The engine pipes down at a cruise, however there is some noticeable tyre noise when driving at speed on coarse asphalt.
Suspension: The C 250 Sport’s AMG-fettled suspension delivers a good balance between comfort and sportiness. The damping and spring-rates aren’t too firm for long highway stints, yet there’s good grip, body control and roll suppression once you tip it into a corner.
We took the C 250 on a long journey from Melbourne through Gippsland and up to Eden on the South coast of New South Wales.
Whether cruising on the highway or linking the long, flowing corners between Orbost and Eden, we were mighty impressed with how well the C 250 Sport handled.
AMG has reworked the steering rack to make it more direct. There’s decent feedback through the wheel, but also quite a bit of steering kickback on rough, choppy corners. It is also a bit too light for our liking.
Braking: The C 250 Sport gets a larger brake package than the cooking model C 250, and also benefits from ventilated and cross-drilled rotors.
Stopping performance is very good. The pedal is responsive without being too grabby, and, although the C 250 Sport is no lightweight at 1550kg, it stops rapidly and is resistant to brake fade.
ANCAP rating: Five stars, 35.51 points scored out of 37.
Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD and brake assist round out the C 250 Sport’s electronic safety suite, while occupants are protected by three-point seatbelts (pre-tensioning on the front seats) and eight airbags (front, front side, rear side, full-length curtain).
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years, unlimited kilometres.
Service costs: Mercedes-Benz sets servicing intervals for every 25,000km or 12 months. Servicing costs can vary from state-to-state, so consult your local Mercedes-Benz dealer.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Audi A5 2.0 TFSI quattro ($83,200) - The Audi is more costly than the C 250 Sport but its 2.0 litre turbo four-pot has five more kilowatts and 40Nm more torque.
It’s also all-wheel-drive, and has a super-crisp seven-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission. More expensive, yes, but you do get more for your money. (see A5 reviews)
BMW 325i ($83,915) - BMW’s 3 Series Coupe is right at the end of its life cycle, and compared to the C 250 Sport the value equation doesn’t quite stack up for the 325i.
The 325i has 160kW of power but just 250Nm of torque. It’s blessed with a wonderfully balanced RWD chassis but is $5k more expensive than the fresher-feeling and newer Merc. (see 3 Series reviews)
Infiniti G37 GT ($75,900) - The Infiniti G37 is based on the same platform and mechanical package as the Nissan 370Z, and not lacking in sporting credentials.
With 235kW and 360Nm, the G37’s 3.7 litre naturally-aspirated V6 is a strong performer but its interior isn’t quite up to the same standard as the Benz. (see G37 reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
It might not be especially quick in a straight line, but don’t dismiss the C 250 Sport.
Fling it into a corner and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the way it grips. AMG’s involvement in the development of this car is no marketing gimmick - this is a cut above an ordinary C-Class Coupe.
There are faster cars for similar money, but with the C 250 Sport Coupe you get style, comfort, and outstanding driveability. It’s a good all-rounder, and competitively priced.
If you’re after a luxurious two-door that’s got more than a little bit of athleticism in its DNA, the C 250 Sport Coupe is well worth a look.