2017 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic Coupe

2017 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic Coupe

Ideally balancing comfort and sport

I had a favorite sports coupe as a young man in my early 20s. I know I probably should’ve been more interested in RX7s, 280ZXs, Sciroccos, Supras and the like at the low end, as they were much more within my reach, or 911s, Countachs, Esprits, M1s, Panteras and 512 Berlinetta Boxers at the high end, because most guys my age were, and I was enthused by all of the above to a point, but for the same reason I’d previously gone all gaga for BMW’s 3.0 CS coupe and its 6 Series replacement, I fell head over heals for the now classic early eighties Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC. Looking back I suppose it makes sense, being that my friends jokingly dubbed me Alex P. Keaton when Family Ties was all the rage (it didn’t take me long to transform from longhaired rock star wannabe to quintessential yuppie once school had ended and the reality of earning a living set in).

That love affair was reunited with the much more recent fourth-generation E-Class coupe that I first drove in 2010, which is still one of the more elegant cars on the road, as is its replacement, and while I’ve yet to spend quality time with the stunningly beautiful new S-Class two-door, I see much of its design influence in this latest C-Class Coupe.

Opportunity most recently brought me together with a gorgeous Brilliant Blue Metallic painted 2017 C300 4Matic Coupe with added Sport Package, Premium Package and a sharp looking set of 19-inch AMG multi-spoke alloys, a more affordable yet no less appealing two-door hardtop than the E-Class Coupe mentioned a moment ago. Its elegant yet suitably sporty styling is complemented by an equally attractive interior that blends contemporary design with top-tier materials and superb build quality, my tester moved up a notch with the aforementioned packages and beautiful solid and perforated Porcelain leather upholstery plus aluminum and open-pore dark ash hardwood trim.

There’s a real sense of occasion in the cabin, an ideal combination of artistry and purposeful practicality that both suits my personal style and pragmatic need to justify any purchase, even if the rationale of a $42,650 luxury coupe, equipped to nearly $60k as tested, might seem preposterous to someone perfectly content with a mid-range Civic or Corolla, despite the little Merc’s ability to whisk along four adult passengers and their belongings in quick, quiet comfort, or for that matter its traditionally good resale value.

17 mercedes benz c300 4matic coupe rearview

As you likely know this all-new 2017 C-Class Coupe isn’t a completely new compact concept, the CLK having arrived in 1997 and after a 2002 update ended production in 2009 (this model’s predecessor the W124 E-Class Coupe which followed the beautiful and highly collectible early ’70s W123 280CE), the brand’s entry-level C-Class Sport Coupe also augmenting the lineup in 2000 and spun off into the CLC in 2008, although the latter model wasn’t sold into North American markets, and the most recent C-Class Coupe introduced in 2011 and selling through 2015. I first drove this latter model in 2012 C350 guise and was thoroughly impressed, describing it as a “wonderful all-round performer that blends in an ideal level of real world luxury to make each day with the car thoroughly enjoyable.”

I’d say that sums up the new car perfectly, while I think it’s safe to say the new model is more eye-catching from the sheetmetal inwards. It’s a particularly attractive bit of kit, its classic Mercedes sport-shaped ovoid grille floating above a much more aggressive lower fascia than the previous model. The new headlight clusters are similarly more complex, their detail more jewel-like, my tester’s 19-inch machine-finished alloys on 225/40 front and 255/35 rear Continental performance rubber significantly larger and more dazzling than the already upgraded seven-spoke 18s the 2012 model was fitted with, but really it’s not just these details but the entire car that’s transformed.

This is most noticeable in its elegant profile, which in Mercedes’ traditional two-door sedan style is still rather tall ahead of the back glass, which is necessary for fitting two adults in back. Rather than finalizing the new C-Class Coupe’s backside with a slightly modified rendition of the sedan’s hind end this new car is a complete departure from the popular four-door C, with a more pronounced integrated deck lid spoiler and completely unique horizontally shaped LED taillights. It’s difficult not to like this car.

And that’s even before sliding into the optimally adjustable perforated leather-clad driver’s seat. Getting comfortable is easy, the lower cushions power-extendable no less, while looking upwards is visual manna for an unfulfilled soul. My tester’s beautifully stitched Artico pleather dash top gracefully arced over a metal-rimmed two-dial primary gauge cluster, its center filled with a large color TFT multi-information display. The instrument panel recedes elegantly from the dash top before butting up against a gorgeous brushed aluminum inlay that stretches from the right side of the primary cluster to the edge of the passenger’s door, this forming a backdrop for a fixed 8.4-inch tablet-style infotainment display that sits above three of the industry’s best looking metal-formed center vents, these mimicked with a singular vent at each corner of the dash for perfect symmetry.

17 mercedes benz c300 4matic coupe overall dashboard

The doors are fronted by the same aluminum trim incorporating speaker tweeters and perfectly aligned, tightly fitted aluminized buttons, plus Mercedes’ trademark powered seat controllers within easy reach. This switchgear, and all other buttons and knobs around the cabin, is among the segment’s best, especially the power window switches and stunningly detailed aluminum toggles at the mid-point of the center stack. The analog clock just below is lovely as well, while the bezels around each circular vent are exquisitely finished. It’s all truly high-end stuff, better executed than some ultra-premium brands. As noted earlier, Mercedes dressed up this example with open-pore dark ash as a background for the center stack controls including the infotainment controller at its base, a rich complement to the creamy beige leather used for the upgraded door panel and seat upholstery.

I actually thought the infotainment controller was the gear selector when first climbing in, its unique shape and combination of aluminum and glossy piano black lacquer causing a double take as to its functional purpose. Its combination knurled metal rotating dial, finger-gesture capable touchpad-cum-palm rest and surrounding buttons offer myriad ways to access the crystal clear color display above, my tester’s filled with all the latest technologies including a superb backup camera with active guidelines, a 3D-style radio preset selector, wonderfully clear and precise navigation, colorful and visually descriptive HVAC vent direction graphics, and more, while it also integrates Mercedes’ new mbrace Connect telematics system that lets you set the climate control, preprogram navigation inputs, in-vehicle apps, servicing alerts, and more from your smartphone.

The infotainment also shows cutaway graphics of the car when toggling the standard knurled metal console-mounted Dynamic Select rocker switch that lets you choose between Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport + driving modes, all designed to help you get the most out of your C-Class Coupe experience. I spent time with each, the Eco mode retarding acceleration to minimize consumption, quickly shutting down the engine when it would otherwise be idling while utilizing residual engine heat to warm the cabin, the latter two helping the C300 4Matic Coupe achieve a reasonably efficient 23 mpg city, 29 highway and 25 combined rating (the rear-drive model gets a claimed 23 mpg city, 30 highway and 26 combined); Comfort mode offering more compliance from the front and rear multi-link suspension, which features coil springs, adaptive dampers and stabilizer bars, while allowing more responsive acceleration; Sport mode upping the engine, transmission and suspension’s reactiveness; and Sport + mode taking performance to its furthest extreme while shutting off some of the electronic safety equipment for a livelier rear end.

To this end the C300 4Matic Coupe isn’t trying to take BMW’s 4 Series Coupe head on, at least not in performance, but rather follows Mercedes’ traditional route of providing all the thrills most buyers want, this side of the three C-Class AMG coupes now available, with higher levels of luxury and comfort. This makes it the more sensible alternative, although these bestsellers are hardly the only two-door premium D-segment hardtops vying for your money. In fact, along with longtime favorites like Audi’s A5/S5, soon to be completely updated, and Infiniti’s Q60 Coupe (previously the G37 Coupe), which just recently arrived with an all-new design and uprated performance, this segment has been growing with Cadillac swapping out its CTS Coupe for the newer and more appropriately sized ATS Coupe, and Lexus now offering its RC.

17 mercedes benz c300 4matic coupe center stack of electronics

Set Dynamic Select to Sport mode and the C300’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes the most of its 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, the paddle shift-actuated seven-speed automatic it’s mated to shifting smoothly and quickly and 4Matic all-wheel drive making sure each wheel is locked to pavement no matter the weather conditions. Standstill to 60 mph takes just 5.9 seconds and it keeps on pushing right up to highway speeds and beyond, while high-speed passing power is readily available with just a light press on the throttle. Interestingly, the 2012 C 350 4Matic Coupe I tested previously managed the same 5.9-second sprint to 60, yet needed a less efficient 302 horsepower V6 with an identical 273 lb-ft of torque to do so, that model also equipped with a seven-speed autobox.

The C300 AWD owes much of its accelerative performance to its relatively light curb weight of 3,593 lbs, with aluminum alloys used for the fenders, hood and trunk lid, plus high-strength steels and composites used elsewhere. This makes for a rigid body shell that not only aids crash protection but also provides a better combination of handling and ride comfort. It really takes to the corners with confidence inspiring poise, expected of any Mercedes but welcome just the same.

Mercedes makes its AirMatic air suspension optional while you can also individually add sportier suspension tuning, but before I delve into options my C-Class 4Matic Coupe’s $44,650 starting price includes a lot of standard features worth noting, such as 18-inch alloys on runflats, auto on/off full LED headlamps, LED DRLs, LED taillights, aluminum doorsill plates, an automatic seatbelt feeder, an electromechanical parking brake, pushbutton ignition, Dynamic Select, Eco start/stop, a garage door opener, heatable side mirrors, auto-dimming rearview and side mirrors, a powered tilt and telescopic steering column with memory, rain-sensing wipers, a 5.5-inch color multifunction display, powered front seats with three-way memory, Artico pleather upholstery, dual-zone auto climate control, Bluetooth hands-free with audio streaming, a seven-inch tablet-style infotainment display, FrontBass-enhanced audio with a CD player, SD card reader, dual USB ports, and HD radio, plus Mercedes-Benz mbrace (with five years of mbrace Connect services), a panoramic sunroof, an alarm, a first aid kit, attention assist, advanced tire pressure monitoring, adaptive braking, hill-start assist, ESP Dynamic Cornering Assist, Collision Prevention Assist Plus, Crosswind Assist, Passive Blind Spot Assist, Pre-Safe, a full assortment of airbags including front knee blockers, and more.

The two packages mentioned earlier include the $4,960 Premium 2 package that adds proximity-sensing keyless access to the cabin and upgraded powered trunk, power-folding side mirrors, a larger 8.4-inch infotainment display with a touchpad controller, voice control with a learning feature, a rearview camera, navigation, multicolor LED ambient lighting, blind spot assist, the 590-watt 13-speaker Burmester surround audio system, satellite radio, plus SiriusXM Traffic and Weather (plus five years of service); the $1,675 Sport package that adds an AMG styling package, a chromed “Diamond Grille”, 18-inch AMG five-spoke alloys, a sport suspension, sport-tuned brakes, an AMG interior package, an AMG flat-bottom sport steering wheel, AMG floor mats, brushed aluminum foot pedals, and the Artico pleather dash trim mentioned earlier; while my tester’s 19-inch alloys added $500, metallic paint $720, real leather $1,620, and hardwood another $325.

17 mercedes benz c300 4matic coupe rearseat

Additional options that could have been added include the $7,860 Premium 3 package that upgrades the Premium 2 package with active cornering headlights with adaptive high beam assist, cabin-air purification and fragrance system, Speed Limit Assist, Distronic Plus steering assist, Pre-Safe Brake with Pedestrian Recognition, Pre-Safe Plus for rear-end collisions, Active Blind Spot Assist Plus with cross-traffic assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, autonomous emergency Pre-Safe braking,

Additional standalone options include an LED lighted three-pointed front star for $550, a rear spoiler for $350, a head-up display for $990, Garmin Map Pilot for $625, heatable front seats for $580, those heated seats along with forced ventilation for $1,030, memory for the front passenger’s seat for $430, a 360-surround parking camera together with Parktronic active parking assist for $830, air suspension for $1,190, and more. If you still want more, Mercedes offers a comprehensive accessories catalog that’s ideal for personalizing your ride.

As noted the C-Class Coupe was designed for real adults in each of its four positions, but those larger in stature might want to remain up front. My five-foot-eight frame was happiest up front too, but I fit in well enough when seated behind the driver’s seat when it was set to my height. I had about four inches ahead of my knees and another two above my head, while the seats offered good lateral bolstering and excellent lower back support. There’s no center armrest, but Mercedes includes a carpeted center pass-through that would work in a pinch.

That pass-through is more useful for optimizing passenger and cargo space, the large 10.5 cubic-foot trunk expandable via what is effectively a 40/20/40-split rear seatback. This allows longer items like skis down the middle while two back passengers enjoy a window seat. Mercedes also remembers to include convenient levers to fold those seatbacks down, plus the compartment is nicely finished with carpeted sidewalls and metal tie-down rings.

17 mercedes benz c300 4matic coupe engine

The C-Class Coupe is not only available in 300 rear-wheel drive and 4Matic AWD trim, but also as the 362 horsepower twin-turbo V6-powered and nine-speed automatic-geared AMG C43 4Matic Coupe at $55,500, as well as the 469 horsepower twin-turbo V8, rear-drive AMG C63 and 503 horsepower AMG C63 S at $67,000 and $75,000 respectively.

The new 2017 C300 4Matic Coupe ideally balances comfort and sport in a highly efficient package. It’s a car you can tirelessly commute in every day and then enjoyably jaunt the family away for weekend retreats no matter the time of year. Mercedes has done an excellent job updating this model from the previous version, making it better in every respect.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, American Auto Press Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, American Auto Press Copyright: American Auto Press

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