Where once there was the CLK coupe, which purported to split the difference between the C-class and E-class sedans, now there are two mid-size Mercedes coupes, one for each of the mid-size sedans. Last year saw the debut of the E-class coupe, and now comes the two-door version of the C-class. While the 2012 C-class sedan is a three-model lineup, the coupe will be offered in just two variants: C250 and C350 (there is no two-door version of the C300 4Matic).
Lower, but not longer or wider
The sleeker, sportier proportions of the C-class coupe are the result of a change in only one dimension. The car's overall length exactly mirrors that of its sedan sibling, and it sits astride the same, 108.7-inch wheelbase. Overall height has been chopped by 1.5 inches, due to the car's unique roofline. Unfortunately, unlike the bigger Benz coupes, the C-class did not also lose its B-pillar in the process.
The lower roofline creates a cozier cabin, which is a nice way to say that there's a lot less rear-seat room. Where the sedan has a five-place interior that can accommodate at least two rear-seat riders in comfort, the coupe is strictly a 2+2. Those second two actually have decent legroom, but foot room is tight and so is headroom, despite a strategically scooped out section in the ceiling. Accessing the back seats is made easier by front seats that scoot forward electrically, but the hard door armrests and the lack of a center armrest drive home the message that rear-seat riders' comfort is not a priority.
Front-seat occupants, however, enjoy an environment that is quite pleasant, benefitting from the upgrades visited upon the C-class for 2012. The dash now has a large, integrated display screen (rather than a pop-up nav unit), and the steering wheel is trimmed in brushed metal. Aluminum trim also adorns the dash and door panels of the C250, while the C350 gets glossy walnut (or, as an option, a particularly unconvincing matte-finish wood.) Most surfaces are soft-touch, but the overall effect is sober high quality rather than sybaritic luxury.