2017 Mercedes-Benz C300 Coupe First Drive
Emotion hasn’t always been Mercedes-Benz’s strong suit. For decades, the brand emphasized solidity over passion—but that notion has changed almost as quickly as its nameplates in recent years.
The three-pointed star is getting all touchy-feely now, referring to its thoroughly revamped lineup as families of cars. Anchoring the low-to-mid end of the spectrum is the venerable C-Class, which now includes a coupe that’s vastly more evocative (and moderately more engaging) than before.
The 2017 C-Class Coupe is the newest version of the C-Class family that includes sedans, convertibles, the GLC crossover, and even the SLC roadster. It’s like a party in the tune of C and everybody was invited, except the C-Class wagon sold in Europe but not the United States. The C300 Coupe is arriving in dealers now, but an AMG-tuned C43 and the full, fire-breathing C63 are due by year’s end.
The outgoing C-Class Coupe felt like an afterthought, arriving toward the end of the model’s lifecycle. Although it brought some much-needed style to the stodgy C-Class, it wasn’t very sporty to drive. Using the new-for-2016 C-Class sedan as a base is a better starting point; the four-door is almost universally praised by critics and consumers alike.Let’s start with its svelte shape. From the rear, the C-Class Coupe is almost indiscernible from the sexy S-Class Coupe that serves as the brand’s flagship. Wide tail lamps and a relocated license plate make the C-Class Coupe appear much wider than the sedan, even though the measurements are the same. Up front,Mercedes widened the coupe’s grille for a more sculpted appearance. Standard LED headlamps, an upgrade over the halogens on the base sedan, give way to a repositioned belt line that cleans up the car’s side profile. If the sedan looks stately, the coupe is its mischievous little brother.
Bigger and sportier-looking wheels are also part of the package. Base C300 Coupes will ride on 18-inchers with all-season tires, but the models we drove on the quiet roads outside of Portland, ME, had $500 worth of optional 19-inch rubber wrapped exclusively in Continental summer tires.
Inside, Mercedes retained the sedan’s swoopy dash with its big COMAND infotainment display taking up considerable real estate. The only real difference between the sedan and the coupe is that the two-door’s frontseats are more aggressively bolstered and accessing the rear passenger compartment is challenging. We did find good room for two adults back there, but coupe buyers should expect an ingress and egress compromise. Owing to the reshaped tail, trunk space is down about two cubic feet versus the sedan.
Mercedes hasn’t created a coupe dripping with personality, but the glittering grille and muscular haunches are enough for us to overlook the C300 Coupe’s mild driving experience and instead appreciate its svelte style. It’s a head-turning two-door for those willing to pay the hefty price of admission. Despite Mercedes’ sporty ambitions, the C300 gets by in large part with its looks – and that might be just right for buyers since this segment, which includes the Audi A5 and BMW 4 Series, has become more about style than about performance.