The changes are subtle: Mercedes does not believe in messing with a successful design. The sports coupe sold 8,693 models last year, a quarter of total C-class sales.
While the carmaker has added aggression to the coupe’s look, it has not addressed the tardiness when the automatic shift engages first gear from standstill. The lag is too long, and needs to be taken into account when attempting to squeeze out into gaps. It might not appeal on a test drive.
When the cogs finally do slot into place, the result is a pleasing burst of acceleration from the 2.2-litre, Euro 4 compliant diesel engine (power is up from 143bhp to 150bhp).
Performance is solid – 0-62mph in 10.5s, oddly two-tenths slower than the saloon – while the optional sports suspension stiffens the chassis sufficiently well for the twisty bits. It’s not as hard as some, in particular the BMW 3-series coupe which offers a more involving drive and is 2.7 seconds quicker to 62mph (the new 1-series is also a rival).
Where the Merc does score is price: the C220 CDI SE we drove is £23,745; BMW’s 320 Cd SE is £24,700. It’s comfortable, too, with well supported seats and ample room in the back.
The sports coupe is an appealing purchase, but the manual is they one to go for..
Strengths: Looks, price, comfy seats
Weakness:Auto is tardy
Opportunity: Appeals to a younger market
Threat:BMW (as ever)
The USP:Mercedes in a compact package
Price: £23,745 (SE)
Engine: 2.2-litre 150bhp diesel
Transmission: 5sp auto/rwd
Performance: 0-62mph 10.5s; top speed 135mph
Efficiency: 40.9mpg comb; 183g/km CO2
CAP RV (3yr/30k): £10,550 (43%)
Rivals: BMW 3-series coupe, 1-series, Alfa Romeo 156, Audi A3 Sportback