image

Motoring

Presented by

Motoring

Mercedes-Benz C300 Coupe good travelling partner for couple taking to the open road

This offering from the pointed star acquitted itself well on the trail from Stuttgart and up through the German Alps

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 January, 2017, 12:01pm
UPDATED : Friday, 06 January, 2017, 8:54pm

Minutes after receiving the key to the Mercedes-Benz C300 Coupe in the suburbs of Stuttgart we head off south on the autobahns. Our destination: the German Alps.

Stuttgart, the home of Mercedes-Benz, is Germany’s sixth most populous city, with 600,000 people. Yet escaping the greater metropolitan area does not involve an hours-long crawl. We reach the southbound motorway with ease thanks to an exemplary network of highways connecting Stuttgart and its many suburbs. The navigation system in the C-Class coupe and its optional head-up display are also a big help.

Apart from monitoring your speed, the head-up display also notifies you of the speed limit on the road you are on, which is handy when city speed limits are low and speed cameras ubiquitous.

We borrowed the coupe for three days with the aim of determining whether it makes a good travelling companion. This let us drive across southern Germany and experience the celebrated German Alpine Road that runs from the shore of Lake Constance, bordering Austria and Switzerland, to Lake Königssee in the southeastern-most part of the country.

The autobahn to Austria is not particularly congested but the lack of speed limits proves illusory; there is enough traffic to dampen thoughts of attempting a personal speed record during daylight hours. With a maximum output of 245 horsepower from its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, the C300 coupe manages no more than 210km/h during the run. It’s not the fastest vehicle on the roads – with a top speed of 250km/h – but it would have been hard for a supercar to go significantly faster.

Despite being equipped with a new modular MRA rear-wheel drive platform, reportedly to cut weight, the C-Class coupe feels as substantial as any premium compact executive car. We don’t doubt the marque’s claimed acceleration time of six seconds flat to 100 km/h but the way the C300 coupe delivers the acceleration does not get our adrenaline pumping, even in the most responsive Sport Plus mode.

Presumably performance alone is not the main reason most people buy a C-Class coupe – unless it bears a Mercedes-AMG badge. Like the C-Class sedan, however, the coupe is attractive inside and out.

Built on the platform of the C-Class sedan, the coupe is slightly longer and wider than the vehicle it replaces. It is distinguished from the sedan by more sculptured body lines, a revised front bumper and “diamond” grille, use of LED headlamps and a wrap-around LED rear light cluster.

Its expressive look is more than matched by an array of luxurious and sophisticated features in the cabin. Expectedly, the coupe is upholstered in leather, metal and trims that look and feel refined. There’s a particularly premium touch in the moderately curved inner door panels with fine leather and metal inlets. The tweeters look crafted, too.

The raised central console, now finished with another curvy surface, a revised COMAND infotainment control knob and new touch pad, and the main console with circular air vents and colour monitor on top, are designs as aesthetically appealing as they are ergonomically sound.

The cabin offers ample room for the driver and front passenger. However, rear seat passengers have little benefit from the coupe’s larger footprint as most of the dimensional gain in overall length is given over to the space between the front axle and bulkhead. The sloping roofline also does little to please those squeezed in the back. On a more positive note, the boot is spacious enough for one large suitcase and a couple of soft bags.

Although cruising on autobahns can be efficient and fun, a smooth road surface is a must, meaning frequent roadworks where speed limits are strictly enforced. At the first sign of a bad traffic jam, many motorists simply make a swift turn at the nearest exit.

A scenic drive along the German Alpine Road or Route 500 in the Black Forest can be much more rewarding. The former is among the most scenic roads in Europe. Since it’s not a mountain pass, it is free of continuous hairpin bends. Instead, it’s a smooth, sweeping mountain road through grand scenery with little traffic, along which you pass tranquil towns, glistening alpine lakes, green meadows, natural forests and the majestic Alps to the south.

There, the C300 coupe feels composed. The lowered sports suspension with agility control and selective damping system aid the vehicle’s stability, even in wet conditions. Beware though that weather conditions in the mountains can change quickly.

On the road we play with the different drive modes. While Sport and Sport Plus up the response with higher revs, we’re not sure if they hit the engine’s sweet spot. At high rev range the engine feels a little coarse at the edges, but with the optional sports exhaust system the note sounds adequately energetic.

The settings also firm up the steering feel, which becomes more direct and confidence inspiring. The downside, however, is that it sometimes gets slightly artificial. Nevertheless, hours spent driving in the mountains in the C300 coupe were thoroughly enjoyable.

The test car also came equipped with a multitude of driver assist systems, including steering assist, lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring – all useful tech in city or motorway driving.

After spending most of our trip driving in the mountains, including a brief visit to the Tyrolean exclave of Jungholz and some spirited motorway driving, we seem to exceed the fuel consumption figures claimed by Mercedes-Benz. Still, the C300 coupe makes a very practical and comfortable companion for two for a short holiday. As one of the smallest coupes in the marque’s current range, it’s also a good reference for more premium coupes made by the “Pointed Star” marque.

Specifications

Length 4686 mm

Width 1810 mm

Height 1406 mm

Wheelbase 2840 mm

Engine configuration 1991cc, in-line 4-cylinder, turbocharged

Max power output 245 horsepower at 5500 rpm

Peak torque 370 Nm at 1300-4000 rpm

Fuel consumption (combined cycle) 6.3-6.8L/100 km

CO2 emissions (combined cycle) 146-157g per kilometre

Maximum speed 250 km/h

0 – 100 km/h acceleration 6.0 seconds