by Roger Biermann
Occupying the role of Mercedes-Benz's most compact two-door coupe, the C-Class Coupe has a compact design fused with inherently sporty styling and impressive performance from its relatively base level engines, which position this trendy vehicle in an ideal spot in the market for those who seek refined luxury with an inkling of performance. For 2019, the C-Class Coupe is equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, with outputs of 255 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque driven through a nine-speed automatic transmission to either the rear wheels or all four corners. While many may see the C-Class sedan as a merely average rival to the BMW 3 Series, the C-Class bring with it a bespoke rear suspension setup elevating it in stature to be the ideal performance platform from which Mercedes can launch a dynamic assault against established rivals like the Audi A5 Coupe and BMW 4 Series.
For 2019 the C-Class Coupe has undergone a midlife refresh, breathing new life into a model we first saw early in 2015. The C300 receives more power from its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, while the appearance of the C-Class Coupe has been enhanced inside and out with the addition of new light-alloy wheels, restyled front and rear fascias, newly designed LED headlights, a larger central media display, and a new multifunction steering wheel with Touch Control Buttons. A handful of individualization options have also been added, along with futuristic driving assistance systems. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have also been installed as standard.
Despite bearing the C-Class moniker, the Coupe boasts differentiated styling from its sedan sibling. Both C-Class Coupe models ride on 18-inch five-spoke lightweight alloy wheels and are outfitted with LED daytime running lights, headlamps, and model-specific, slim LED taillamps. As standard, both trim options feature a tilt-and-slide glass panorama sunroof, a frameless door-glass design, and an integrated rear spoiler. The C 300 4MATIC Coupe receives power-folding side mirrors as standard.
The C-Class Coupe offers slightly more compact dimensions than the sedan specifically in overall height at only 55 inches tall. But with a bespoke rear suspension, it's wider at the hips, measuring 71.3 inches wide to the sedan's 60.8 inches. It has a length of 185 inches while riding on an identical wheelbase to that of the sedan - 111.8 inches. Curb weights differ purely based on the drivetrain, with the C300 tipping the scales at 3,527 lbs and the all-wheel-drive 4MATIC variant weighing 3,682 lbs.
For 2019, the C-Class' turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine receives an additional 14 hp to reach total outputs of 255 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. The four-pot finds itself paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. From a standstill, acceleration is impressively smooth with little to no turbo-lag perceptible to frustrate the driver. Power delivery is responsive to driver inputs, too; the new engine feels more refined and is a definite improvement over last year's version. Throttle responses are rapid and feel well-synchronized with driver demands, giving the C300 a sense of sportiness not usually associated with the C-Class. The automatic shifts of the transmission are subtle, quick, and smooth, with ratios well-associated to the engine's torque band. If it can be criticized, the engine doesn't sound particularly inspiring, definitely playing second fiddle to four-cylinder offerings from BMW and Audi.
Like a true C-Class Mercedes, the C 300 rides with soft and smooth confidence; cabin noise is well isolated and the sport-tuned suspension with selective damping handles moderate road imperfections and undulations more than adequately. In the ECO and Comfort drive modes, the Coupe delivers a luxurious ride quality, only upset by the most broken of pavements. Engaging the Sport or Sport+ modes tightens up the underpinnings and sharpens throttle responses for a more engaging drive, as well as one that sees your fillings loosened on anything but the smoothest roads.
Even so, the C-Class Coupe isn't nearly as sporting as chief rivals like the Audi A5 and the BMW 4 Series, which both have a stronger capacity to allow driver engagement. Nevertheless, the C-Class Coupe is still fun to drive and is generally a capable coupe, remaining firmly planted to the road and exhibiting poise around bends during spirited driving. Credit is due to the bespoke rear suspension setup which gives the coupe an added layer of ability missing from the sedan. The steering is responsive, although not very communicative, its weighting adjusts automatically according to the drive mode selected, adding resistance, but without added feel.
The 2019 C-Class Coupe proves to be adequately fuel-efficient, although not to the extent of the Audi A5 and BMW 430i. With EPA estimates of 22/31/25 mpg city/highway/combined, the C-Class is much less economical than the Audi A5's EPA estimates of 23/34/27 mpg. Similarly, the BMW 430i offers marginally better estimates of 24/34/27 mpg. With a 17.4-gallon gas tank, the C-Class Coupe is capable of a 435-mile range before refuels, but the price of refilling is driven up by the requirement of premium unleaded gasoline.
A total of four occupants are comfortably accommodated in the C-Class Coupe. The seats are comfortable but notably firmer than usual for a luxury vehicle; still, seating offers great support by virtue of dynamic bolstering. Anyone over six foot may have trouble with headroom, although legroom up front is more than adequate. In the back, however, the legroom is wholly dependent on the positioning of the front seats. An ergonomic driving position and optimal visibility are easy for most drivers to find, thanks to the highly adjustable seat and steering column. The front seats automatically slide forward for effortless ingress and egress to the rear seats as well, but stooping under the sloping rear roof is still a tough task for most.
For a coupe, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class presents a decent amount of trunk capacity. It has 10.5 cubic feet of cargo space, which is enough room for two sets of golf clubs. The 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats extend space for larger items, and the center seat backrest folds down independently to double down as a ski-pass.
In the front of the cabin, a dual cupholder is situated just ahead of a moderately-sized center armrest console; the glovebox is averagely in size and the door-side pockets are conveniently long and wide. In the rear, another set of cupholders are located between the two rear seats, with compact outboard pockets in the rear for smaller items.
As standard, both models are fitted with fourteen-way power-adjustable front sports seats with driver seat memory, as well as front seat-belt presenters, extendable sun visors, a HomeLink garage door opener, and 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats. They also feature an illuminated entry system, remote opening and closing of the windows and sunroof, remote Start via the Mercedes me connect Mobile App, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a brake hold feature. Also offered with the C-Class as standard is the Mercedes me connect assist services with a three-year subscription. The C 300 4MATIC additionally has power-folding side mirrors as standard.
Both C 300 models are equipped with an identical infotainment setup comprising a 10.25-inch high-resolution center display and utilizing a FrontBass system that's integrated to the standard Mercedes-Benz sound system. The installation is controlled via the steering wheel touch-control buttons or the remote console-mounted rotary controller. This year's model is also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto enabled as standard and features a hands-free Bluetooth interface with Bluetooth audio streaming capability. The C 300 4MATIC additionally comes with an HD Radio receiver and dual USB ports for device charging and connectivity.
Along with prior year models, the 2019 C-Class Coupe has been subject to numerous recalls and has received an abundance of driver complaints over time. Nevertheless, J.D. Power allocates the 2019 C-Class Coupe with an average predicted reliability rating of three out of five. Mercedes covers the C-Class Coupe with a standard four-year/50,000-mile new-vehicle limited warranty and offers various extension options.
Both the NHTSA and the IIHS have crash-tested the 2019 year model of the C-Class Sedan, with most ratings likely to be applicable to the coupe because of their mechanical similarities. From the NHTSA, it received a top overall evaluation of five-stars while the IIHS selected it as the Top Safety Pick+ for 2019.
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe positions itself within the market as an entry-level luxury-sport vehicle, purely based on its accessible pricing point and compact dimensions. It boasts excellent value for money at that level, well-equipped with a luxurious interior, decently punchy engine, and impressive driving dynamics. But most rivals offer superiority in almost every regard, including fuel economy and general engine performance. It's competent but not exceptional through any given set of twists, and the engine is good, but not great. While the interior looks stylish, Audi's interiors seem better assembled, and while the bespoke rear suspension gives the C-Class some modicum of handling ability, the BMW 4 Series or Cadillac ATS coupe easily outclass it as a driver's car.
While trunk space is certainly no measure of excellence in a coupe, it is noteworthy that many rivals do have marginally better cargo volumes. What sets the C-Class apart from the competition is its standard tech capabilities, compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay from the factory while also offering high levels of driver assistance tech. It may not be a class-leader, but it's a stylish, comfortable coupe with high levels of specification, and for many a buyer, those will be all the boxes that need ticking.
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe receives a $600 price increase from last year, giving the C 300 a base MSRP of $43,800 and the C 300 4MATIC a price tag of $45,800, exclusive of tax, registration, and licensing fees. Mercedes' delivery, processing, and handling fees of $995 must also be added. Equipping either of the coupes with all the available packages for a fully-loaded variant can add up to $14,040 to the initial MSRP.
We suggest opting for the C300 4MATIC as it costs only $2,000 more than the rear-wheel variant. It comes standard with a few more features and, along with the all-wheel-drive capabilities, offers a better driving experience. Even though the 4MATIC carries 149 pounds over the rear-wheel-drive model, it delivers the same performance specs and fuel-efficiency. The all-wheel-drive system, other than offering the obvious all-weather capabilities, also benefits the Coupe with improved handling dynamics by better dispersing its weight across the chassis and supplying permanent front and rear wheel traction. Additionally, the 4MATIC includes an HD Radio receiver, dual USB ports, and power-folding side mirrors, which the rear-wheel-drive version doesn't have. The Coupes are otherwise identical in every other regard, both with the same access to optional packages and standalone accessories. You wouldn't be making a mistake by choosing the rear-wheel-drive variant, but the minimal price difference for the all-wheel-drive advantages is well worth it.
With an MSRP of $44,200, the 2019 Audi A5 quattro Coupe is $1,400 cheaper than the all-wheel-drive C300 4MATIC. Though with lower outputs at hand from its engine than what the C-Class draws, the 248 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque is still enough to have the A5 beat the C-Class to the 60mph mark by 0.2 seconds - and it still manages to be more fuel-efficient in the process. The A5 offers better driver engagement in its performance and handling capability, while also giving buyers a coupe with superior levels of quality inside the cabin. It also offers slightly more trunk space and features the more user-friendly Audi MMI interface. In general, the A5 offers a better balance of performance capability and a high standard of luxury-comfort; the C-Class leans more toward casual drivability over any real performance. The A5 manages to deliver exceptionally in both areas, which not only makes it the better coupe but also offers more bang for your buck.
The rear-wheel-drive model of the 2019 BMW 430i 4 Series is priced at around $1,000 more than the base rear-wheel-drive C 300, but the minor difference in price is more than justified by the performance of the 430i. It's quicker to 60 mph and handles more fluidly through a set of turns, while also riding more pliantly in general. It also offers far greater trunk space than the C-Class, and the iDrive interface functions as a more intuitive system than Merc's COMAND. In terms of tech capabilities, we give the C-Class its dues, as the 430i is devoid of Android Auto capability and offers Apple CarPlay services on a paid-subscription basis. The interior of the C-Class, as well as its versatility and ergonomics, are better than those of the 430i. The BMW offers superior outright performance overall and a better driving experience to boot, but the Mercedes is the winner for creature comfort in this comparison. Considering this segment's position within the market and the purpose of a compact sports coupe, we deem the BMW 430i the better buy, based on performance alone.