Mercedes C-class Sports
Coupe / CLC-class (CL203)
watching BMW 3-series Compact for so many years, Mercedes decided to
a hatchback version of the C-class. However, instead of making it a
alternative, Mercedes shaped it like a coupe - which means it looks far
more handsome than its rival - and gave it an up-market name: C-class
Coupe. After seeing it recently in showroom, I swear that the car is
attractive to eyes.
separate it from the sedan ? firstly, most apparent is the 3-door body
with 180 mm boot chopped and replaced that by a liftback. Additional
required for the tail’s big opening makes it just 10 to 15kg lighter
the saloon. With rear seats down, it provides a 1100-litre luggage
exactly the same as the 3 Compact. Despite of 20 mm lower roofline and
a fastback tailgate, rear seats are still roomy enough to swallow a
of 6-footers. Optional electric glass roof eats into headroom but it
the cabin feels light and airy.
second change is stiffer springs and dampers. The standard setup is
between the saloon’s standard setup and sports setup, while the sports
setup is another 10% stiffer. This results in a ride slightly firmer
the saloon while providing marginally better control and agility.
the high achievement of the saloon, you might think the Sports Coupe
beat the new Compact in handling ? wrong, because the new Compact has
tuned even sportier, overshadowing the Mercedes in every dynamic
(including steering feel) while matching its ride. The Sports Coupe is
taut and grippy, steers accurately and feels agile, but being a coupe
faces some rivals offering greater feedback and quicker response. It
best at 80% rather than at limit.
positioning could be tricky, because Mercedes has already got a CLK
(based on last generation C-class) above it. It marginally undercuts
saloon with equivalent engines, so budget-limited buyers are left to
Compact. C180 Sports Coupe is slow and expensive, so unless you want
badge and design it is not a very sensible buy. Unluckily, other
are not much better - 163hp C200K and 197hp C230K are powered by
fours which are notorious about NVH. No match with BMW’s 2.5-litre six
at all. Although the 230K provides quite good performance (even in
the engine sounds coarse and feels reluctant above medium rev,
the driver from enthusiastic flat out.
the saloon and CLK have 3.2 V6 to choose from, Mercedes decided to
the Sports Coupe to four-pots only to avoid internal competition. This
is of course a big mistake, because the V6 would have made the Sports
a really desirable car. It beats the Compact easily in beauty contest.
It offers more room. It doesn’t handle as well but still good enough.
it desperately need is a decent engine. Listen, Stuttgart, give it a V6
as soon as possible !
above report was last updated on 19 May
2001. All Rights Reserved.
M271 four-cylinder engines
Mercedes introduced a new 4-cylinder engine family to replace the
existing four-cylinders. The M271 family is a clean-sheet design. It
various new features to improve efficiency and refinement. First of
there is twin-balancer shafts to eliminate the inherent vibration of
4-cylinder engines. Secondly, the cylinder head now employs variable
timing at both intake and exhaust side. Thirdly, roller cam followers
hydraulic lifters are used to reduce friction and noise. Fourthly, all
M271 engines have a more efficient supercharger and intercooler than
old one. Reduced clearance between the supercharger housing and
roller reduces gas leakage thus the small supercharger can produce
boost pressure. Lastly, by using smaller supercharger, reduced capacity
to 1.8-litres (from 2.0 or 2.3-litre) and an aluminum crank case, the
is smaller and lighter. For example, the engine for C200 Kompressor
167kg, some 18kg lighter than the old 2.0-litre unit which produced the
At the moment
M271 family consists of 4 engines. Surprisingly, all of them displace
output and fuel consumption are implemented by different tuning, e.g.,
different supercharging pressure and compression ratio. The only
is the CGI engine (CGI - Stratified Charge Gasoline Injection), which
direct fuel injection. As usual, direct injection not only saves fuel,
but also increases power by allowing higher compression ratio. The 4
lbft / 2500rpm
lbft / 3000rpm
lbft / 3000rpm
lbft / 3500-4000rpm
As you can
has given up its naming theory according to engine size and uses a
system like AMD's Athlon XP processors.
the M271 family is much smoother, quieter and much more frugal.
finally has a world-class four-cylinder engine to match its superb V6,
V8 and V12.
above report was last updated on 8 July
2003. All Rights Reserved.
C-class Sports Coupe with new engines
Sports Coupe used to be an example of how an excellent car ruined by a
poor engine. At its launch, it was offered with either an under-powered
2.0-litre four or a pair of noisy and vibrating supercharged four (2.0
or 2.3 Kompressor). We questioned why Mercedes didn't supply it with a
V6. Anyway, in mid-2002, Mercedes finally added the 218hp 3.2 V6 into
sales menu, primarily for the US market. Then, a new four-cylinder
consisting of 4 engines replaced the old four-cylinders.
C180 Kompressor (143hp / 162 lbft), C200 Kompressor (163hp / 177 lbft),
C200 CGI (170hp / 184 lbft) and C230 Kompressor (192hp / 192 lbft). The
entry-level unit is considerably more torquey than the old C180 Sports
Coupe, thanks to supercharger, thus real-world performance suffers
from the old car's sluggish response. In fact, its performance is
more accessible at low and mid-rev than BMW 318ti Compact, while good
should put smile on your face.
the upper end,
Kompressor loses a bit power and torque from its predecessor, as engine
displacement has been reduced from 2.3 to 1.8 litres. Inevitably,
eased back a little (0-60mph is now 8.1 sec), but the smooth and
power delivery is more than enough to compensate. In the past, the more
you ask from the engine, the more unhappy it becomes. In contrast, the
new engine adds to driving fun.
above report was last updated on 8 July
2003. All Rights Reserved.
|A facelift too late and too little
cannot clear the question mark over its future
Mercedes has renewed its C-class for one year, it has no intention to
renew the 7-year-old C-class Sports Coupe in the same way. What the
latter gets is just a facelift accompany with a new name, CLC-class,
which is necessary to distinguish with the new C-class. Does this mean
Stuttgart plan to discontinue the line in a few years time ? Probably.
In order to restore your confidence in the aging model, Mercedes
claimed the CLC has got 1100 new parts. Many of them are used at the
new nose which resembles the new C-class Avantgarde. Unfortunately the
facelift does not make it any prettier. You will find the new nose
design too angular to work in harmony with the sleek body. The front
overhang is also too long for a compact hatchback. At the other end,
the new tailgate has discarded the lower glass section, which results
in poorer visibility. More disappointing is the interior, which needs a
quality upgrade desperately but unfortunately it remains unchanged. The
old car was born at a time when quality was no longer the first
priority at Mercedes-Benz. Today you could find a Ford Mondeo or Honda
Accord employs classier materials in their cabins. Even though the CLC
gets a better steering wheel, seats and some equipment upgrade, it is
difficult to persuade people to spend so much money on it.
In the mechanical side, the new CLC gets very limited improvements too
- the suspensions has sportier setup, while the steering gets a
variable-ratio rack for more responsive steer in tight corners. They
make the CLC more fun to drive, but the old C-class chassis cannot hide
its age and this prevent it from matching its rivals in handling. There
are some minor changes to the engines, but none of them are exactly new
to Mercedes. Sadly, the range-topping 3.5-liter V6 still produces 272
horsepower, i.e. without the 305hp upgrade that we have found in SLK
Overall speaking, the CLC is a facelift that came too late and too
little. It is no longer as likable as a few years back.
above report was last updated on 2 May 2008. All