C the difference

The new C-class Coupe looks good and is The new C-class Coupe looks good and is easy to get in and out of for a two-door.
The new C-class Coupe looks good and is The new C-class Coupe looks good and is easy to get in and out of for a two-door. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Beyond its sexier styling, it is not easy to tell the new Mercedes-Benz C-class Coupe apart from its sedan sibling

In the world of cars, design matters a lot. It is more so now that engines, platforms and on-board features are practically homogenous.

And in the sporty segments, design is even more important. If so, the new Mercedes-Benz C-class Coupe is off to a great start.

The car looks gorgeous and it is easy to see why. It has good genes to begin with, as it is based on the current C-class - one of Mercedes' most beautiful cars in modern times.

With two fewer doors to contend with, designers reduced the angle of the A-pillars to lower the roof, and then let it flow backwards to join seamlessly with the boot lid.

Compressed and elongated tail-lamps make the car look wider and more planted. And door- mounted wing mirrors up its sporty stance.

Those, in a nutshell, are the main differences separating the coupe from its sedan sibling.

  • SPECS / MERCEDES-BENZ C200 COUPE

  • Price: $209,88 with COE

    Engine: 1,991cc 16-valve inline-4 turbocharged

    Transmission: Seven-speed automatic with manual select

    Power: 184bhp at 5,500rpm

    Torque: 300Nm at 1,200-4,000rpm

    0-100kmh: 7.3 seconds

    Top speed: 235kmh

    Fuel consumption: 6 litres/100km

    Agent: Cycle & Carriage

Both have the same overall length, width and wheelbase. The car is merely 22mm lower than the sedan, which means people who are less supple will be able to get in and out with relative ease.

There is less room for rear passengers, but that is par for the course. At least getting in and out is fairly easy, thanks to front-seat backrests which can be flipped forward with a tug of a well-placed flap.

The action also moves the whole seat forward on its rails. Pop the backrest back in place and the seat automatically returns to its original position.

The car has automatic seatbelt extenders - a thoughtful feature both old and young will appreciate.

Looking a little bit like a baby Bentley Continental GT from some angles, the C-class Coupe makes a grand entrance effortlessly.

It looks better than the outgoing E-class Coupe, which was based on the previous C-class. And it makes the previous C-class Coupe look absolutely dated.

It is also far better equipped than either car. It gets LED lights all round, suspension with selective damping, parking assist, electronic parking brake with self release and holding function, run-flat tyres with pressure monitor, reverse camera and collision prevention.

The last feature gives out an audio warning if you are too close to a vehicle in front. It also activates the brakes partially if it senses that a crash is imminent.

In the C200 test-car, the headlamps are intelligent enough to adapt to different conditions and the upholstery is all leather.

The only thing the car can have a bit more of is performance.

Compared with its 1.8-litre C250 predecessor, the C200 has less power and torque. As a result, it is not as nimble or fast as the previous car.

This, however, is done on purpose to improve efficiency. Despite being bigger, the new 2-litre car is 14 per cent more economical than the previous 1.8-litre.

On the go, you do not feel like you are in a sportier car. You do not feel like you are seated closer to the tarmac or that you can take more liberties going around a corner, even if the car, like the C-class sedan, has one of the sharpest and neatest turn-ins ever. And you cannot hear the difference either.

For those who want more, there is a C300 ($247,888) with a highly tuned 2-litre engine which makes 245bhp/370Nm, and which goes from zero to 100kmh in a blistering six seconds.

At the same time, for those who prize show over go, there is also a 1.6-litre 156bhp/250Nm C180 ($183,888) which clocks an 8.8-second century sprint, but which qualifies for a $5,000 carbon rebate.

All three versions are equally good-looking.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2016, with the headline 'C the difference'. Print Edition | Subscribe