Expectations are high for the Mercedes-Benz C-Class C180 Coupe, and it does not disappoint. by justin harper

SINGAPORE (Feb 25): Get ready for a lot of Cs. For we are about to review the Mercedes-Benz C-Class C180 Coupe. That’s quite a long name, but then again, this is a car with a big reputation. The C-Class is the most successful model series from Mercedes-Benz and is now in its fifth year of production. So, each time it brings out a new model, expectations are high from its huge army of followers. The German luxury brand has three different body shapes within its C-Class range in Singapore — the saloon, the cabriolet and the coupe. And there are different engine choices within each style.

The coupe is the sportiest variant within the C-Class. Its front section, with its long bonnet and diamond radiator grille, is striking. Frameless doors and a low-slung body shout out “drive me fast”.

With a suspension that is slightly lower than that of the saloon, the two-door coupe is definitely the sportier sibling, aided by chunky 17in wheels. Add in the freestanding exterior mirrors and you have a new and improved C180 coupe that is the boldest design yet. But if this coupe is not sporty enough for you (perhaps you are a professional racing driver), you can upgrade to the even sportier AMG version.

When you first get into the driver’s seat, the exterior lighting is the first thing you will notice, and it is easy to change the colour using the shiny black dial on the centre console

Mercedes-Benz C-Class C180
$193,888 including COE
Engine: 1,595cc, 4-cylinder in-line 16-valve, turbocharged
Power/torque: 156bhp/250Nm
Fuel consumption: 6.7l/100km
0 to 100kph: 8.5 seconds
Top speed: 226kph

The C-Class has been known for being a bit traditional and old-fashioned, and attracting mainly older Merc drivers. So, for Mercedes-Benz, it represents a great opportunity to show just how much it is changing with its sportier and trendier-looking cars. The sloping roofline of the C180 is enough on its own to demonstrate how far the C-Class has evolved.

While the shape is bold and athletic, the interior is pretty snazzy too. Not only does it look very modern inside, there are plenty of new safety systems alongside some sleek-looking controls and a new media screen.

When you first get into the driver’s seat, the exterior lighting is the first thing you will notice, particularly if the colour has been set to vivid purple, as my test-drive car had. It is quick and easy to change the colour using the shiny black dial on the centre console. Shiny black is predominant throughout the cabin and it looks good. There are also some new materials that are being used for the first time in the C-Class, such as open-pore brown walnut and anthracite oak.

Steering wheels are not usually noteworthy enough to write about, but the one on the C180 is. Not only is it chunky and easy to grip but it also has a healthy display of buttons and knobs in all the right places. This is not always the case with automakers, but Mercedes-Benz has got this one right. I can say the same for the C180’s performance too. Under the bonnet may be a modest 1.6-litre engine, but it is turbocharged to give you 156bhp and 250Nm of torque, and it feels pretty quick off the blocks. Power comes via the rear wheels, while a new 9G-TRONIC transmission glides up and down the gears with military precision.

While having a sizeable dollop of power when you need it is always welcome, I can’t imagine your average C-Class owner being the sort who wants to beat everyone at the traffic lights. Even with a new generation of younger drivers, the C-Class is still all about sophistication and luxury, which brings out the best in road manners.

While I may have driven the C180 faster than the average C-Class owner, this was only to test out what it can do on the open road. So, I guess the 8.5 seconds it takes to get you from 0 to 100kph is not really important. What is more important is the quality of the ride. There is an Agility Control Suspension feature that makes the car feel more planted to the road and more responsive to different surfaces.

Some C-Class owners may already have the saloon version of the C180 and may not consider the coupe when the time comes to upgrade. But the coupe is worth taking a look at, especially if you no longer have kids in tow. You will definitely stand out more in it than in the saloon, and feel at least 10 years younger. I can vouch for it. For a middle-aged man like me, who has a passion for sports cars, my heart was still racing after a spin in the C180.

Justin Harper is a freelance journalist with a passion for all things fast