Test Drives

Mercedes C 180 Coupe 2019 review: Two to tango



The new Mercedes C-Class Coupe costs little more than the sedan, but adds plenty of glamour

SINGAPORE — What does it take to make a two-door car an authentic Mercedes coupe? It has to have frameless windows, and an electric arm that feeds you the seatbelt . Doesn’t sound like much, but both are present and accounted for in the C 180 Coupe, which has just gotten the same raft of updates as the rest of the C-Class range.

In sum, there are new bumpers and lamps (and here you’ll see a new grille with diamond-shaped studs in black), along with a newly-digital cabin that comes with a bright 10.25-inch display, virtual instruments, and a steering wheel with touch-sensitive pads.

New open-pore wood trim and new yet-to-be-launched engines are also part of the mid-life revamp, with the mild-hybrid 1.5-litre turbo C 200 Coupe and AMG C 43 4Matic particularly high on our can’t-wait-to-drive list.

The C 43, in particular, gets a power hike to 390 horsepower (from 367hp) courtesy of bigger turbos, and given that the pre-facelift one was already one of the best cars on the planet to drive, the new one ought to be otherworldly.

Getting back to the C 180 Coupe, it makes do with the familiar 156hp, 1.6-litre turbo and nine-speed auto. That’s not a lot of power, so you don’t get a lot of performance, but 100km/h in 8.5 seconds is better than decent — the Volkswagen Golf GTI once sprinted to 100 in the same amount of time, and everyone got hot under the collar about that.

Still, the new Coupe, at least in C 180 form, is more about elegance and a sort of timelessness than about being a thrilling car to drive.

The handling is set up to be benign above all, and though you can hook the little Mercedes into corners quite aggressively, it feels like something designed to soak up such treatment instead of encouraging it.

BMW’s 2 Series Coupe is actually far more frisky and fun, but its cabin is a noticeable notch below this car’s in terms of poshness and ambience. The same is true for space, with the Mercedes offering more headroom for adults in the back.

If you’re heading for a long drive with three friends and their luggage, the C 180 Coupe is both comfy and spacious enough for the job.

Two things detract from its otherwise placid character. The 9G-Tronic gearbox sometimes shifts with a thunk, which is strange because it’s used in all manner of Mercs and doesn’t do the same thing in them.

The C 180 Coupe also comes with lower, firmer springs, and the setup makes it ride far more stiffly over bumps than it needs to. Customers apparently look for a bumpy ride here, perhaps mistaking that for sportiness, but a 156 horsepower engine isn’t sporty, so the suspension doesn’t need to be.

You’ll buy the Mercedes if you want a stylish car that you can drive every day without stress, and with enough practicality for a childless lifestyle — the rear seating is spacious enough to make the C 180 Coupe a useful car for a family of four, but even a practical coupe is no match for a sedan at hauling people around.

Above all, what the Mercedes offers is a huge dose of exoticism; it’s only around ten grand more expensive than the equivalent sedan, but looks twice as glamorous. Its overall shape, with its cigar-like profile and small glasshouse, certainly helps. But so of course do the frameless windows and electric seatbelt arms.

Mercedes-Benz C 180 Coupe

Engine 1,595cc, turbocharged in-line 4
Power 156hp at 5,300rpm
Torque 250Nm at 1,200-4,000rpm
Gearbox 9-speed automatic
0-100km/h 226km/h
Top Speed 8.5 seconds
Fuel Efficiency 6.7L/100km
VES /CO2 C1 / 151g/km
Agent Cycle & Carriage
Price S$192,888 with COE
Available Now

 

READ MORE

Not keen on coupes? The C 180 sedan is a big seller for Mercedes. Find out why

Our in-depth guide to what’s new with the C-Class

What happened at the local launch party for the new C-Class

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Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 23 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.