Remember all the fuss over the E-Class Coupe? How it was really a C-Class-based car that had been pushed upmarket? Well, there was a reason for all the subterfuge: Mercedes-Benz plans to offer a C-Class Coupe as well. And yes, it’s based off the same hardware. The 108.7-inch wheelbase is identical to that of the C-Class sedan and E-Class Coupe. The engineering hardware isn’t dramatically different, either. Talk about splitting a niche.
The new C-Class Coupe, due in March 2011, is a much sharper piece than the larger, more expensive, overstyled E-Class Coupe, and it targets a more dynamic clientele. The front and rear ends will be adopted from the facelifted C-Class sedan due early next year. This explains the more sculptured hood, the restyled lights, and the enlarged nasal air intakes. The upward kink at the trailing edge of the rear window looks suspiciously like a BMW design cue, and the wedge-shaped body and the sleek greenhouse convey Audi overtones. Most coupes suffer from certain packaging constraints, but the trunk of the new two-door C-Class holds the same 16.8 cubic feet as the four-door model.
The revised interior happens to be almost identical in to that of the E coupé. Major improvements over today’s C-Class are the repositioned and enlarged nav monitor, the easier to use Comand system, and a host of extra-cost driver assistance systems such as lane guidance, lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning, traffic sign recognition, night vision, an automatic parking aid, cornering lights, and cruise control with brake actuation. The seats will be adopted from the E-Class, which means that you can specify the full works including active side bolsters and massage function.
In terms of surface materials and build quality, the C-Class Coupé is said to take a giant step back towards traditional Mercedes brand values. This will also be reflected in the price tag, which is likely to exceed that of the sedan, placing the C coupe between the C sedan and the E coupe in the U.S. lineup.
The European range comprises five models, sources say: 180 CGI (1.8-liter I-4,156 hp); 250 CGI (1.8-liter I-4, 204 hp); 350 CGI (3.5-liter V-6, 306 hp); 220 CDI (2.2-liter turbodiesel, 170 hp); 250 CDI (2.2-liter turbodiesel, 204 hp). The new V-6 is a turbocharged, direct-injection unit, closely related to the 422-hp V-8 that was earmarked for the C55 AMG. However, due to a disappointing sales forecast and relatively high conversion costs, this version is currently on ice, along with the proposed C-class cabriolet, which has been held back to protect the barely roomier but notably more profitable E-Class convertible.
To accommodate the optional hybrid module, the antiquated five-speed automatic will be replaced by the modern seven-speed 7G-tronic. In addition to a mild hybrid employing a 20-hp electric motor, Mercedes intends to offer a plug-in model that uses a 60-hp motor for extended on-demand, zero-emission operation.