George - Like a fine wine, some things only get better with time. So too does Mercedes, consistently re-inventing its C-Class range, each generation improving on its predecessor.
The automaker’s latest offering, launched in George, Western Cape, is by far the sportiest and most stylish C-Class Coupe yet.
There are three things constant with a new Mercedes compared to a previous version: driving dynamics, refinement, and standard safety and driver systems - to mention a few.
READ: New C-Class Coupe in SA - Prices, details
The models available at launch in SA is known as "Edition 1" and, says Mercedes, although the car is not limited in units available in SA, it is, however, limited by production time. That means if you want to own this sleek, stylish "limited" coupe you have six months to order until production ends and the normal production run commences.
Why purchase an Edition 1? Mercedes' Edition 1 models are known to be a little more good looking than standard versions with subtle styling tweaks.
Under the bonnet
Two petrol engines and one diesel are available at launch. The first is the C200 powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual. It’s capable of 135kW/300Nm with emissions of 142g/km.
Image Gallery: 2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe
The C300 has the same engine as the C200, but it's tuned to produce 180kW/370Nm, coupled with a 9G-tronic+ automatic transmission. C02 emissions are rated at 157g/km.
The C220d is also powered by a four-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel unit pushing out 125kW/400Nm and also mated to a six-speed manual. Owners who opt for this derivative will be exempted from CO2 emissions, as it emits only 113g/km.
Driving the new coupe
It’s difficult to fault a car equipped with numerous driving aids, new technology and loads of safety features. Step inside and the automatic seat-belt feeders (optional) pop out. Mercedes makes a big deal about the Coupe’s new suspension and it became obvious why as I started my drive en route to Oudtshoorn and back. The configured chassis with optional air suspension ensures low road noise and tyre vibration.
The Coupe's lightweight construction, courtesy of the generous application of aluminum, makes the 2016 version much lighter than its predecessor and its 4-link front axle kinematics provides plenty of grip. Mercedes has worked on its latest coupe's driving dynamics providing sensitive, responsive steering and a lot more fun behind the wheel.
The new C200 was the first model to drive, configured with an automatic 9G-Tronic gearbox. It might be considered the baby of the range, but it's 2.0-litre engine is more than suffice to handle its own on any road with a satisfying 135kW on tap. It sits on the straight like a bullet and sweeps through twisting bends admirably, emulating its more powerful sibling - the C300; though with less power. Driving is effortless, overt-taking is natural and should you encounter an obstacle such as swerving driver or a pedestrian running in front of the car, the new model can automatically apply the brakes thanks to its active safety programmes.
The C220d feels as nimble as the C200 offering, but of course there's more grunt with 400Nm as opposed to 300Nm in the latter. With that said, the engine is almost deafeningly silent as there's no chugging noises one would expect to hear from a diesel unit.
There's also five dynamic selection modes to match your driving style: Comfor, Sport, Sport+, Individual and Eco.
Then there's the C300 which is a different animal and the pick of the bunch for the range. Its 180kW was also immediately noticeable, not only by its throaty roar that makes you want to push the car through its paces, but the driving dynamics felt sharper and more agile in this car. This model has a 7G-Tronic+ auto transmission. It instills confidence behind the wheel especially when challenging roads such as the Outeniqua Pass on the N9; which connects the scenic route between George and Oudtshoorn.
Use the steering-mounted paddle shifts and you're in for an even bigger treat as gear changes are still as smooth when selecting the sportier modes in the drive select. Mercedes' transmissions are sophisticated in the extreme, offering seamless shifts. This combined with great engines translates to thrilling driving, especially considering the engines roar as you apply the throttle.
And the fact that its interior is so luxiorus and clean, just like its outside lines, and as easy on the eye as its seductively good looks, only enhances the driving pleasure.
There are new sporty seats in Artico hand-made leather with turquoise stitching throughout the cabin, and different leather colour upholstery options. It's also a lot more spacious than before and although these numbers might seem marginal, it provides significantly more room than the outgoing model; with 19mm more shoulder room, 29mm more elbow room and 8mm more headroom.
The interior features controls finished in silver and chrome, as well as soft, luscious materials throughout. Even the facia buttons feel like satin to the touch. Mercedes says there's a new Graphic Processing Unit (optional) which allows for new animation options and a larger display, as well as customisable content for the heads-up display. There's an AMG sports steering wheel and brushed stainless steel sport pedals, as well as an Interior Light package which lights up the car subtly at night in the door, floor and smaller storage spaces.
What’s new on the Coupe
Even if you're not a fan of the three-starred brand, it's hard to deny the new Coupe is a striking vehicle on our roads.
It has a longer bonnet, longer wheelbase, the usual frameless doors, and door-mounted mirrors for the first time. New features include a diamond radiator grille with pins in high-gloss black, a new suspension lowering the Coupe by 15mm compare to the sedan - it’s also the only car in its segment with Air suspension, claims the automaker. There’s a sporty radiator trim with single louvre in matt iridium silver and a chrome insert on the front spoiler.
The car’s sweeping lines are reminiscent of the S-Class Coupe, while its sculpted C-pillars along the rear windscreen add to its slender rear silhouette. It’s finished off with two-piece taillights with LEDs.
As mentioned, Mercedes' cars come loaded with technology and driver assistant systems. There's Distronic Plus, which helps the driver maintain a safe distance from the car ahead of it. It also comes with steering assist and Stop/Go Pilot, while Brake Assistant Plus reduces the risk of rear collisions at road junctions which increases the brake pressure according to the situation, says Merc. There's also Pre-Safe Plus which locks the brakes when the vehicle is stationary, and Collision prevention assist plus which reduces the car's speed autonomously.
Equipment includes a sensor along the rear allowing you to open the boot with swipe of your foot, standard on the C300; the LED Light Intelligent system which automatically adapts to lighting and driving conditions. There's also a parking package which includes Active Parking Assist with Parktronic which assist in finding parking spaces, makes parking easier using the 360-degree camera through a combination of four networked cameras.
More from Mercedes in SA
Mercedes-Benz South Africa has a busy year ahead with many more models set to launched in locally. The automaker aims to launch 44 new models by 2020. The range-topping C63 AMG Coupe version arrives locally in July. Mercedes SA unveiled the sole unit in the country for a tantalising tease.
Merc’s new E-Class sedan is set to arrive in June along with the new SLC Roadster - previously known as the SLK. Mercedes' new GLS arrives end of May; there’s a stunning, new C-Class Cabriolet, and the striking new S-Class, both of which arrive locally in October. The new GLC Coupe is set to arrive in SA in 2017.
The new Smart ForTwo and ForFour arrives early in May 2016.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe C 200 - R551 000
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe C 220d - R592 700
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe C 300 - R660 300