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First drive: Mercedes-Benz CLC – on sale June

Mercedes-Benz

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Review

Many first time buyers in the premium compact coupé segment will opt for the Mercedes-Benz CLC-Class.

It has the refinement and status that comes with the brand, but with a relatively low starting price – £19,920.

Mercedes-Benz CLC

The price – and many features – remains the same as the outgoing seven-year old C-class sports coupé. However, engines have improved to provide more power, better fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions.

Offering four petrol and two diesel engines, it comes in two lines, SE and Sport.

Mercedes expects customers who buy the Sport version, an £1,100 upgrade, will be an even mix of female and male, younger (28-33) and likely to be image-conscious executives.

The SE will attract an older customer, generally with no children, who seeks a small premium coupé as the second car of the household.

Looks-wise, the car doesn’t seem drastically different to its former self.

Overall it has the slick appearance that Mercedes is known for, and in that sense, it’s smart but nothing original.

The rear-end lets it down aesthetically – a row of LEDS as a third-brake light doesn’t do it any favours, even if it does replace an ugly spoiler.

The interior is similar to any other Mercedes: it’s smart, has comfortable sports seat and includes six airbags, brushed aluminium trim and a three-spoke multifunction steering wheel.

Driving is pleasant and effortless.

The smaller engines deliver limiting performance but are certainly adequate.

Much more satisfying is the CLC 350 model, but few prospective buyers will shell out £27,240 for the pleasure.

Sales figures for the old model peaked in 2003 at 8,693 units.

Last year, 4,933 cars were sold. Mercedes is unwilling to provide sales expectations but it is “very optimistic”.

On sale in June, it expects “it to appeal much more to younger customers, in particular from the corporate sector, and bring in a new generation of buyers to the Mercedes-Benz brand”.

Despite being unremark-able, CLC will no doubt do well in its market.

The manufacturer wants it to not only attract new customers but also maintain their interest in the brand over time.

The sports coupé achieved this: two-thirds of its buyers remained loyal to the three-pointed star.

Fact file

Price £19,920-£27,240
Engine 1.8-litre 143bhp; 2.0-litre 184bhp; 2.3-litre 204bhp; 3.5-litre 272bhp; 2.0-litre diesel 122bhp; 2.2-litre diesel 150bhp;
Performance 0-62mph: 6.3-11.3sec; top speed: 128-155mph
Transmission 6 sp man, 5sp auto
Efficiency 25.7-48.4mpg; 152-239g/km CO2
CAP RV 3yr/30k 57%
Rivals BMW 1 Series Coupe, VW Eos, Audi A3, Saab 9-3

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