LOOKS ARE DECEPTIVE
It has become something of a cliché for all car manufacturers to stress the youthful appeal of their products. So it is unsurprising that the new CLC-Class Coupé is billed as offering “a youthful and attractive entry route into the Mercedes-Benz Coupé family.” Hang on a minute, though. The average age of a Merc owner is distinctly middle-aged, and the CLC is definitely a car to go ski-ing in. Spending the kids’ inheritance, that is.
The CLC’s character echoes the demographics. Here we have a compact coupé that looks pretty cool and sporty, but the downside is that it doesn’t really feel it. From behind the wheel, it is competent but uninspired and rather tame. The explanation for this is under the skin. From the look of it, you’d assume that the CLC is based on the latest and well-respected new C-Class saloon. Not so. Its svelte modern look is deceptive and it is actually an update of the old Mercedes C-Class Sports Coupé, based on the now defunct last-generation C-Class. Although it appears outwardly similar to its predecessor, the CLC is actually quite a bit different in detail, with only the roof and doors unchanged from the body panels of the old model. There are 1,100 new components throughout the car if you get right down to the nuts and bolts of it.
The two diesel engines are not new, but have been modified to boost power, improve economy and lower CO2 output. The suspension has been revised to give better ride comfort and the steering is upgraded and similar to that of the new SLK. It all ought to add up to a very agreeable package, and in many ways it is. The CLC’s cabin is elegant with huggy sports seats and plenty of legroom in front, and although it is a bit snug in the back, there is enough room for two adults, not just children. The boot is surprisingly big for a coupé, and said to be capable of accommodating two sets of golf clubs.
It is not quite such a rosy picture when you are on the move. You expect a smart looking coupé to be a more engaging drive than a saloon. On the contrary, the CLC is an inferior drive to the latest C-Class. It is not as crisp or precise into the bends, and despite the suspension upgrade, it tends to feel soggy when pushed hard. The 2.2 litre turbo diesel has plenty of power but is a little short on refinement, and it lacks the sporty character that the car’s swept-back look invites you to expect.
RIVALS: BMW 120d SE COUPÉ, VOLKWAGEN EOS 2.0 TDI CR, VOLVO C30 D5 R-DESIGN SE SPORT
- Engine: 2148cc, 4 cylinder, 16v turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max Power: 150bhp at 4,200rpm
- Max Torque: 251lb ft at 2,000rpm
- Max Towing Weight: tba
- Combined Consumption: 47.9mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 156g/km (D)
- 0-62mph: 139mph
- Max speed: 9.7secs
- Insurance Group: 15