2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe
Mercedes-Benz has long had a following for the sophisticated coupes they’ve produced over the years. Outside of the über priced classics, a few modern favorites are the 1980s 560 SEC, 1990s E-Class Coupe, and 2000s CLK.
Fast forward to 2017 and there are still tasty coupes on the Benz menu. The S-Class Coupe is a world beater, the AMG GT will leave smoking tire rubber in a straight line for hundreds of feet and the E-Class Coupe represents mid-luxury comfort and performance set to a near S-Class standard.
At the top of the United States (Alaska aside) lies idyllic Maine, a state known for lighthouses, wonderful small towns and lobster. Yes, Homarus americanus is a “to die for” gift from the deep seas of the North Atlantic Ocean- It was in Portland, Maine that Mercedes-Benz launched the newest coupe to the family, the 2017 C300 Of course, one begs to ask: Can the new C-Class Coupe keep the Mercedes-Benz tradition of two-door hardtop excellence going?
Now this is not the first C-Class Coupe, with the previous model a decent sales success. Nice car, and attractive for sure, but certainly not a head turner like the new C300 that replaces it. The 2017 C Coupe is a head turner in the sense that it looks like a smaller version of the ferociously sexy AMG GT. From a distance they look so similar you might confuse the two.
The new C300 Coupe is a ground up build on perfection. Lightweight construction to reduce weight, excellent aerodynamics, and a dynamically configured chassis with optional air suspension form the basis for a high level of suspension comfort, low road noise and tire vibration, agile handling, and driving pleasure. From nose to tail the C-Class Coupe radiates style and performance.
Choose your 2017 C300 in rear-wheel drive or 4Matic all-wheel drive guise. AWD versions command a a$2,000 premium over the RWD’s base price of $42,650. When comparing the handling characteristics of the two, the 4Matic AWD version is clearly the better choice, IMHO. Both chassis configurations feature handling limits well above the everyday abilities of your average Joe or Jane, so why not choose the safety and enhanced traction of the 4Matic version? It may not snow or ice up in your part of North America, but it rains everywhere and 4Matic’s traction bonus is just that, a bonus. And the mileage penalty for the 4Matic (due to the 132-pound weight difference with RWD at 3,638 lbs and 4Matic at 3,770 lbs) is just one mpg overall (26 combined city/highway for RWD versus 25 for 4Matic).
Though I drove both models during the media launch I spent triple the time in the 4Matic car, so the majority of remaining comments will be in reference to that model. Both versions are essentially identical with the drivetrains being the only major difference.
Both trims feature a 241 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a quick shifting seven-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted shift paddles. Plant your right foot and the 4Matic Coupe moves out with alacrity. Zero to sixty mph clicks off in an impressive 5.9 seconds. There is no noticeable turbocharger lag, the car just keeps accelerating smoothly right up to redline.
Mercedes laid out a drive course on twisty roads through Maine and neighboring New Hampshire that showcased the car’s exemplary driving characteristics. My tester was outfitted with the optional AirMatic air suspension, an electronically controlled, continuously adjustable damping system that lets you choose your desired driving style using the lower console mounted “Dynamic Select” switch. Choose from “ECO,” “Comfort,” “Sport,” “Sport ” and “Individual” driving modes, which all provide unique driving parameters. I spent most of my time carving up roads in Sport mode and found the C300 4Matic’s handling near neutral and surely a blast to drive. Nothing could throw the Coupe out of kilter, not even an unexpected road undulation in a corner at a reasonably high speed.
Non AirMatic-equipped cars still share in the handling fun. The base setup front and rear includes an independent multi-link suspension with coil springs, single-tube shock absorbers and a torsion bar. Again, road imperfections, like washboard surfaces, do little to unravel the car’s rock steady persona.
Handling prowess is further enhanced by “Intelligent” lightweight construction, with a higher proportion of aluminum that makes the Coupe lighter and more nimble on the road. Light alloy components include the fenders, hood and trunk lid. The Coupe’s body is also stiffer and stronger due to the use of high-strength materials, which also enhances crash safety.
As expected in any Mercedes-Benz, the new C300 Coupe provides many standard and optional safety systems including Collision Prevention Assist Plus, which features an acoustic warning for the driver at speeds above 4 mph, and Adaptive Brake Assist. When danger of a collision is imminent and the driver fails to respond, the system provides autonomous braking at speeds of up to 124 mph, reducing the severity of collisions or helping to avoid them altogether. At speeds up to 31 mph the system also brakes in response to stationary vehicles, a common scenario in rear-end collisions. In addition to front, front side, and side curtain airbags, driver and passenger knee airbags are standard safety gear. Rear side airbags are available as an option. Be sure to order this low cost, lifesaving item to further protect rear seat passengers, as well as any other optional safety features you can squeeze into your budget. There’s no price you can put on safety. Much of the safety technology that you find in today’s Mercedes-Benz automobiles is tested at very high levels, including Formula 1 racing. If it’s good enough for Mercedes Team drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton it’s good enough for me.
Inside, good things continue with the C300. Not only do you get the luxury expected with a Benz, but you also benefit from the newest telematics, a connectivity suite called mbrace. The mbrace “Connect” system gives you remote access to your vehicle from your phone or desktop. Set alerts, use in-vehicle apps, save time when servicing, and get roadside assistance whenever you need it. Services include “Remote Start,” “Remote Door Lock/Unlock,” “Remote Horn and Lights,” “Remote Diagnostics,” “Roadside Assistance Connection,” “Valet Protect,” “Vehicle Finder,” “Dealer Information, “Curfew Minder,” “Speed Alert” (Curfew Minder and Speed Alert are great for helping to keep younger drivers safe), “Driving Journal,” “Travel Zones,” “Point-of-Interest Download,” “Internet Browser,” “mbrace in-vehicle Infotainment,” and more.
Expandable additional mbrace “Secure” packages offer safety, security and emergency services that provide help when you need it most. Services include “Automatic Alarm Notification,” “Automatic Collision Notification,” “SOS/Emergency Call,” “Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance,” “Agent-assisted Vehicle Information,” “Agent-assisted Remote Door Lock and Unlock,” “Dealer Connect,” and “Crisis Assist.”
Interior fit and finish standards are first rate. C300 seats coddle you when needed, and hold you fast when experiencing a “Hamilton” moment. Grasp the thick leather, flat bottom steering wheel and peer out of the windshield amidst an ergonomically correct cabin. An optional head-up display clicks off performance parameters and turn-by-turn navigation instructions. The center console features an available 8.4-inch fixed display to adjust many vehicle features, including drive configurations. Available 13-speaker Burmester audio can either soothe your soul or thump your body, depending on how deeply you delve into the 590 watts available. Above, a double panoramic roof lets in a ton of fresh air, or in unscreened position a beautiful night sky. This is one very nicely laid out interior.
Prices for the new C300 begin at $42,650 and reach into the high $50s fully optioned. Is this too much to pay for what is still considered an entry level Benz? Perhaps. But first drive it before you cast judgment. My money says the smile on your face after you drive it is because the C300 Coupe is the small performance car you’ve always wanted, and that makes it a solid buy indeed.
Story credits: Brian Armstead, American Auto Press; Photo credits: Mercedes-Benz; Copyright: American Auto Press.