CLC. That’s a Mercedes letter combination we haven’t seen before. It’s a coupe, but a small one. And it can’t be CLK because there’s one already.
The car is familiar, though. It’s the old C-class Sports Coupé, M-B’s one-time Golf GTI rival, in a new disguise to match the latest C-class, even if it lacks that car’s new underpinnings. Only doors and roof remain of panels past – there’s now a bluffer nose and a squarer tail – while underneath we find revised suspension and steering bushings for a crisper drive.
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The engines are current-spec too, right up to the CLC350’s hefty 268bhp V6, Mercedes dismissing the GTI-rival notion almost as if it never existed. Matched to a six-speed manual, it makes an unexpectedly engaging driving machine, though unfortunately the UK gets the auto only. OK, so try the CLC230, also a V6 (with 2.5 litres and 201bhp) and lively enough if less smooth than a straight-six BMW.
Better-quality plastics and bolder colour schemes liven up the cabin, but you shouldn’t have to sit so high in a coupé. This is no hot hatch, but that’s not the idea. Rather it’s meant to draw buyers into the brand and turn a hefty profit. The accountants will love it.
|Max power||201bhp @ 6100rpm|
|Max torque||181lb ft @ 2900-5500rpm|
|Top speed||149mph (claimed)|
|On sale||June 2008|