Welcome back to the family! That's the overwhelming message received when driving the all-new 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, the 2-door version of the recently redesigned, entry-level C-Class sedan that has served as the German automaker's foot-in-the-door with luxury buyers for the last two decades. Not only reunited with its namesake after a few years of tagging along on a previous version of the C-Class platform, the new coupe also manages to incorporate much of the styling and more than a little of the feature-set that together have made the brand's S-Class flagship such a resounding success.
I had the opportunity to pilot the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4MATIC Coupe, which has been tapped as the volume leader for the Silver Star's 2-door assault on the premium market, along the 2-lane Quebec asphalt that follows the flow of the Saint-Lawrence River into the heart of the Saguenay region. After two full days of driving, I was able to easily confirm that Mercedes-Benz has stayed the course with its C-Class strategy and built on the strong foundation laid down by the coupe's 4-door predecessor.
All in fhe family
The clearest link between the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4MATIC Coupe and the S-Class Coupe that hovers near the pinnacle of the company's hierarchy is found in the elegant lines of its silhouette. Whereas the previous generation offered more of a wedge shape, with the option to bulk up via the AMG academy of bulging fender wells and gaping air intakes, the new C-Class Coupe is more svelte in its appearance. This is particularly noticeable in the rear, where the deck plunges dramatically towards the flattened angle of the bumper to visually shorten the overhang and tidy up the car's proportions.
While it may lack the pillar-less glass of the S-Class Coupe, the 2-door C-Class is very much its spiritual son, and this link between full-size and compact is far stronger with Mercedes-Benz than when examining the family ties of direct rivals like the BMW 4 Series (tenuous) and Audi A5 (non-existent). More aggressive looks can be grafted onto the coupe by way of the AMG Sport Package, which introduces air outlets in the rear bumper just below the LED taillights, as well as a diffuser-style insert out back and a chin spoiler up front.
Inside, the C 300 4MATIC Coupe draws heavily from the C-Class Sedan, which is to be expected. This means that the 2-door model inherits the touchpad interface near the traditional rotary COMAND infotainment controller, along with the prominently mounted screen on the centre stack (available in 7.0” and 8.4” versions, with the latter featuring navigation). The rear buckets are relatively easy to access for a small coupe, and while legroom is surprisingly acceptable the side bolsters encroach on seatback real estate more than one might expect, which could prove an issue on longer trips for larger passengers.
Familiar drivetrains, new nomenclature
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4MATIC Coupe comes with a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine rated at 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Matched with a 7-speed automatic transmission and featuring 4MATIC all-wheel drive as standard equipment, the C 300 demonstrates the “one-size-fits-all” approach taken by Mercedes-Benz on the first rung of the C-Class Coupe ladder. If you're looking for more grunt, you can step up to the Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC (previously known as the C 450) or the C 63 and C63 S variants, which run the gamut from 362 all the way up to 503 horsepower. Expect them to hit showrooms over the course of the summer and fall months.
In a straight line, the modest thrust from the C 300 4MATIC Coupe stands in stark contrast to its twin-turbo 6-cylinder siblings, but it's certainly adequate output for its class, especially when compared against similarly spec'd competitors like the base A5 2.0 TFSI quattro and 428i xDrive. The engine feels smooth at highway speeds, and the transmission transparently doles out forward momentum when left in Comfort mode, which was my preferred option from the Dynamic Select system. Sport and Sport+ modes are also available, but while shifts are quicker and the optional air suspension is stiffer in these territories, you still have to plan out your passing to allow for enough room to gather steam.
Of course, when traveling in the confines of a coupe that’s as well-appointed as the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, why would you want to hurry? The winding roads that linked Tadoussac to Chicoutimi proved the 2-door German compact to be a road-tripper par excellence, devouring tarmac in absolute silence while coddling both driver and passenger (and a fair amount of luggage) in absolute comfort. Safety, too, was at the forefront, with features such as a standard forward collision warning system with automatic braking, a driver drowsiness monitor, and available lane keeping assistance, blind spot monitoring, and rear collision monitoring all in the cards (don't worry, if you find the automatic intervention to be a little too intrusive, you can easily dial things back to better suit your taste).
Focus, Focus, Focus
Whereas the C-Class Coupe may have once been viewed as a nice-to-have member of the Mercedes-Benz portfolio, the 2017 model has really stepped up its game in a bid to draw buyers away from BMW, Audi, and now Cadillac whose ATS Coupe has become something of a critical darling. The new C 300 4MATIC Coupe indeed makes a compelling argument for the dollars and cents of luxury-seeking shoppers who are less interested in acceleration stats and lap times than style and substance on their daily commute.
Viewed through that lens ― and when taking into account the none-too-subtle ties between the C-Class and the S-Class ― it becomes clear that the $48,100 base price for the C 300 4MATIC Coupe buys more than just a spec sheet. Two-door luxury might be a niche market, but Mercedes-Benz is playing for keeps regardless of how small or large the number of potential customers might be. And that attitude comes across at full volume from behind the wheel of the redesigned coupe.