Mercedes CLC Sport Coupe – An Old Friend with a Makeover
Whilst we tested this car some months ago, we just never got round to writing our road test, but fact is, we loved the old C-Class Sports Coupe so much at the time we tested it and felt its only correct that we give you an update on its replacement, the new CLC Coupe.
So where does the new CLC Coupe sit? What we loved about the old C-Class Coupe was that it was a pretty looking coupe that you could get into for Mondeo money and of course it carried a posh badge and all that goes with that and it was a classy thing in a pretty bland market. Well in 2009, things have changed and changed big time.
The old C-Class coupe had a fairly unique position, but today, there is some serious competition out there from cars such as the Volkswagen’s new Scirocco, BMW’s 1 Series, the Alfa Romeo GT and Brera (both of which look gorgeous) and new entries from Renault with the pretty Laguna Coupe and its baby brother Megane Coupe, whilst Audi’s TT and Peugeot’s 407 Coupe are still available and the indications are that a number of other manufacturers are set to introduce coupe’s into their ranges also.
So here in 2009, this baby Merc CLC Coupe sits in an aggressive market with some very difficult competition, so needs to be better or at least as good as its rivals and with prices starting around £19,500 for the base model, up to £28,000 for a top spec car with a big engine, there are plenty of alternatives out there and so the question is, does it stack up?
The CLC Coupe instantly reminds you of the car it replaced, although now it has the good looking C-Class front end, but the rear end is mated to what looks like a face lifted version of the old C-Class Sports Coupe its replacing. That said, its more modern looking, more attractive and more up to date, but fact is, under the skin, not very much has actually changed and whilst Mercedes have messed with the steering and suspension a little, the CLC Coupe is still sitting on the old model C-Class platform.
As a result, whilst the new CLC Coupe does pretty much everything you would expect, and the Brazilian build quality is indeed excellent, you have to wonder if Mercedes have missed a trick here, as the 1100 or so changes Mercedes made to the new C-Class Saloon, have transformed that car into a really nice thing to drive in comparison to its predecessor and made it one of the best cars in its class, but for coupe buyers, they are basically being offered the old C-Class with a pretty coupe body and whilst yes, without doubt, it’s a nice looking car, you kind of wonder that if Mercedes felt that these 1100 changes were what was necessary to make the C-Class a competitive proposition, why then would coupe buyers will be content with the old set up, which to be fair, was never a class leader in terms of the way it drove.
I guess its all about cost and clearly, it’s cheaper to facelift an old car, than build an all-new one and perhaps the view was that whilst they need an all-new baby coupe, they have rushed out a facelift of the C-Class Sports Coupe, and called it CLC Coupe until they get a chance to design and build one.
We are not going to go into reams about how big the car is in the back, or what the cars fuel consumption is, or list its engine options, as the main attraction of this type of car is its image, and how it drives, so lets take a look.
Driving the new CLC Coupe on the motorway, yes its perfect, and you will like it a lot, and you can just tear the miles up in a most relaxed way, but this is a sporting coupe and on smaller country type roads, we found the ride not to be that good and dare I say it, when pushed hard, it didn’t feel that well planted and we noticed a real lack of front end grip even in the dry and even at fairly modest speeds. We noticed crashes and bangs from bumps and potholes and we thought the gearbox was vague and imprecise and that’s not what we expect from a bang up to date modern car in this class and I guess that’s where the problem is, in as much as the CLC Coupe looks bang up to date with its tasty modern body, underneath it’s still a pretty old car.
We all know that no coupe is as practical as a saloon or hatch and to highlight that, rear visibility in this car is absolutely awful and you just haven’t got a clue what’s going on behind you and I use this as an example as to why these cars have to deliver more than just a pretty face for you to happily live with them on a day to day basis. Drivers will put up with all kinds of inconvenience and impracticality, if they get something in return, but unfortunately, for us, we don’t think this car offers enough and I really don’t think that Mercedes can simply rest on the fact it’s got a three pointed star on the bonnet to get sales.
The old C-Class Sports Coupe was a lovely car at the time it was launched, since then, the market has moved on. Whilst for sure, the CLC is a very nice car, and so it should be at £20,000 upwards, there is now lots of choice, and there are some fantastic, superbly handling coupes out there. That said, if you liked the old C-Class Sports Coupe, well you are going to love the CLC Coupe and why not, but we feel Mercedes should have put this pretty coupe on the platform it deserved rather than trying to save money by what’s effectively offering a re-named facelift. So with that in mind and set against its competitor’s offerings and greater driver’s expectations, we feel the CLC Coupe just does not cut it or deliver enough in 2009.
I don’t want you to think we are being unnecessarily hard on this car and whilst we were testing it, we had numerous people comment on how pretty it was and how much they liked it and would like to own it, so I guess the truth of the matter is that if you want it, because you like the way it looks and like the prestige badge, well go out and buy it and I am sure you will be very happy with it, but if you are looking for the true spirit of a coupe, or if you like what’s referred to as an “involving drive” we don’t think you’re going to find it in the CLC.
For a quotation on the Mercedes CLC Coupe, or any car in the Mercedes range, please contact us.