2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe Review
By James Tate of MSN Autos
Mercedes-Benz is a little late to the entry-level luxury coupe game. Rivals from Audi and BMW have been boasting attractive 2-doors for years, and even Cadillac has gotten in on the game with the CTS coupe. But with a range of engines that includes a thrifty 4-cylinder and a fire-breathing V8, the Silver Arrow has demonstrated something that we knew all along: This company can build an amazing 2-door.
The C350 serves as the middle child of the family, but will probably be the volume seller. With a slightly more powerful engine and extra touches such as standard Sirius satellite radio, burl walnut interior trim and a 12-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system (up from eight speakers in the C250), the V6-equipped 2-door could easily be called the ultimate comfortable cruiser.
But Mercedes-Benz wasn't about to leave its power-hungry fans in the cold. The C63 AMG coupe takes care of those buyers who need a little more adrenaline in their commute. Along with the most powerful engine option available in the line, the factory-tuned racer wears custom-tailored body work that includes aggressive fascias front and rear, a unique bulging hood and stylish 18-inch wheels.
Under the Hood
Step into the midrange C350 coupe and you'll get a velvety smooth 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6 with 302 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. The 6-cylinder is mated with the same 7-speed automatic transmission found in the C250, though fuel economy is expected to be slightly less — an estimated 22 mpg combined, compared with the base vehicle's estimated 24 mpg combined.
If fuel economy doesn't factor into your purchase decision, the C63 AMG coupe offers a 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 that spins the rear tires to the tune of 451 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. If that's not enough, you can further option in 30 extra horsepower, courtesy of engine internals sourced from the vaunted SLS AMG. In order to handle all of that power, Mercedes-Benz equipped the sports coupe with an AMG SpeedShift Plus 7-speed multiclutch automatic transmission. The more muscular hardware helps the C63 AMG coupe get to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds.
Brilliant, easy-to-read gauges are augmented by a small color LCD screen that communicates all sorts of pertinent vehicle information, while a 5.8-inch color LCD screen handles central control duties. There's seating for two children or small adults in the back, though ingress and egress is an exercise in humiliation. Leave that area open for bosses, in-laws and other undesirables.
On the Road
It's clear that the C-Class coupe isn't designed to have the steering or handling precision of the BMW 3-Series or even the Audi S5, and as a result, the chassis is much happier loafing along than having its neck wrung. That shouldn't be taken as a slight, however. There's a place in this market for comfortable cruisers, and the C250 nails it dead-on.
Meanwhile, the C63 AMG coupe is a work of mechanical art. With its wet-clutches in place of the standard torque converter, shifts are impossibly quick and rock solid. We've never encountered an automatic transmission that feels so self-confident. Though the C63 AMG still feels like it could use rubber that's twice as wide and twice as sticky, acceleration from the big V8 is the kind of thing worthy of the AMG badge. Throw in the optional carbon ceramic brakes, and you could almost trick yourself into believing that this is a car that someone could take to the track. Bluntly, though, the BMW M3 would be happy to correct you for thinking it.
Right for You?
(As part of an automaker-sponsored press event, Mercedes-Benz provided MSN with travel and accommodationsto facilitate this report.)
James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side asSenior Editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend and European Car. When not writing, Tate is usually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.