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Tuesday 7th February 2012

Driven: Mercedes C250 CDI Coupe

A manual Merc, in this day and age? These things do still exist, as our man Garlick has been finding out



The occasional trip in the now-departed PH C63 AMG aside, it has been a while since I've spent time with a C-Class Mercedes, especially a non-AMG version, and it was way back in 1995 that I last sampled a manual Mercedes - a W124 250D no less.

One stick and a whole lot of pedals
One stick and a whole lot of pedals
All that changed when Editor Trent offered me the keys to a C250 CDI Sport Coupe for a few days, a (deep breath) C250 CDI BlueEfficiency AMG Sport Coupe to be precise, fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox and a footwell festooned with a total of four pedals. Memories of '95 came flooding back as I remembered the 'neutral, footbrake, back into gear' pedal dance required when faced with a hill start...

The C-Class has changed a lot over the years. The exterior has certainly grown up, but where in the line up does this car sit? It's not a CLK replacement, that hole being filled by the E-Class coupe, and it's far bigger and nicer than the stunted and frankly awful CLC. Which leaves it aiming squarely at the 3 Series coupe. A tough gig.

The C certainly looks like a proper Merc these days and the Coupe is undeniably handsome, even if there's a bit too much metal between the top of the rear arches and the windowline.

Dark grey car on a dark grey day ... dark
Dark grey car on a dark grey day ... dark
It's similarly accomplished inside, the interior an absolute treat compared with previous C-Classes and worthy of an S-Class of not that long ago, or so it seems. And that manual gearbox is far removed from the clunky changes I remember and actually half decent to use. Generally it feels like there's a welcome return to the solid Benz build we all recall so fondly.

Fancy footwork
Our test car was the AMG Sport version, as all UK C Coupes are, including a 15mm ride height drop and stiffer springs, dampers and anti-roll bars over the default settings. A £575 Dynamic Handling Package with adjustable dampers is a further possible upgrade, but even as standard is enough to have you seeking out the more interesting route home. While perhaps not quite as sharp as its obvious Bavarian rival, it's way better than any C-Class has been for a long, long time. The 204hp 2.2-litre diesel suits the car, too, and the obligatory mid-range shove is more than enough to sway even the most hardened diesel sceptic.

Better than you'd think but auto still best
Better than you'd think but auto still best
Minor gripes like dirt collecting over the reversing camera after just a mile of winter driving and unexpectedly cramped rear seats aside, the main issue to address is that novelty manual gearbox. The C-Class Coupe might be more inspiring to drive than Mercs have traditionally been, but old habits die hard and, as a cruiser first and foremost, you'd swallow the £1,485 premium for the seven-speed auto.

That would push our test car's already sturdy £40,630 asking price further into 335d territory though, at which point the Merc's charms are going to have to work that bit harder to convince.


MERCEDES C250 CDI COUPE
Engine:
2,143cc 4-cyl twin-turbo
Power (hp): 204@4,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 368@1,600rpm
0-62mph: 7.0 sec (auto 7.1 sec)
Top speed: 149mph
Weight: 1,655kg
MPG: 52.3mpg (auto 53.3mpg, both NEDC combined)
CO2: 143g/km (auto 139g/km)
Price: £33,635 (£40,630 as tested)

 

 

 

Garlick
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E38Ross

Original Poster:

13,484 posts

92 months

[news] 
Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
That's a lot of money for a c class with a 2.2 diesel with a manual box!!

Caulkhead

4,938 posts

37 months

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Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
It looks even more expensive when you realise you can have the equivalent E-Class coupe for less than the C-Class coupe. . . . . . . confused

jezzaaa

1,520 posts

139 months

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Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
The foot operated parking brake on manual Mercs used to be completely daft. But I guess nowadays it probably has a hill start assist type thingy like on my Z4M, and the pedal shuffling is no longer a problem??

Oddball RS

1,368 posts

98 months

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Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
jezzaaa said:
The foot operated parking brake on manual Mercs used to be completely daft. But I guess nowadays it probably has a hill start assist type thingy like on my Z4M, and the pedal shuffling is no longer a problem??
Yes they do and even the gear change is pretty good.

TBH if you want a TDI anything and are trying to save money on tax / fuel, i don't understand why anyone would pick the auto.

It costs more, so there is a tax effect, and it will return 10% less to the gallon no matter what the brochures say. I've had both and i know.

Deva Link

26,934 posts

125 months

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Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
Oddball RS said:
TBH if you want a TDI anything and are trying to save money on tax / fuel, i don't understand why anyone would pick the auto.

It costs more, so there is a tax effect, and it will return 10% less to the gallon no matter what the brochures say. I've had both and i know.
That's true if the money is your only consideration but I find 6 speed gearboxes with the limited rev range of a diesel make everyday driving a palava. I had a 5spd diesel Accord for a while and that was OK but the engine was more flexible and it could be left in 3rd most of the time.

Around town the manual should be a lot more economical but autos usually have higher overall gearing so can be more economical in cruising. The 7 speed auto box this car would have locks up in every gear too.
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f1colin

46 posts

83 months

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Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
I've also had a saloon one of these with the auto and the engine is truly awful - even allowing for the fact its a 4 cylinder diesel. Noisy, rattly, lumpy, utterly agricultural. I was relieved and delighted to part with it. All came clear to me how bad it was when I hired a Kia Diesel in Turkey for the F1 race in 2010 and it was significantly more refined.

dave stew

1,502 posts

47 months

[news] 
Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
jezzaaa said:
The foot operated parking brake on manual Mercs used to be completely daft. But I guess nowadays it probably has a hill start assist type thingy like on my Z4M, and the pedal shuffling is no longer a problem??
I really don't know why manufacturers can't standardise hand brakes. Those Merc systems are idiotic; those electric parking brakes equally so.

I know, let's put the throttle pedal in the middle and play at Vintage Bentleys...

Deva Link

26,934 posts

125 months

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Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
f1colin said:
I've also had a saloon one of these with the auto and the engine is truly awful - even allowing for the fact its a 4 cylinder diesel. Noisy, rattly, lumpy, utterly agricultural. I was relieved and delighted to part with it. All came clear to me how bad it was when I hired a Kia Diesel in Turkey for the F1 race in 2010 and it was significantly more refined.
...and it's worse in the manual as you haven't got the torque converter to decouple the vibration.

MB had to put extra soundproofing under the bonnets of 4 cyl diesel B Class's in Germany that were used as taxis - people were complaining about having their sleep disturbed when taxis dropped their neighbours off. rofl

Crunchy Nutter

238 posts

74 months

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Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
I've got to disagree with you on the gearbox, Garlick. Mercedes' other C250 CDI press car is a white one with the auto 'box. I had it just after New year and I kept cursing the fact that very time you wanted to access that meaty midrange shove, the gearbox would kick down too many gears lifting the revs far too high, and you'd be left floundering up at 4,000rpm. I was dying for a proper manual so I could use all the torque.

The only advantage I seem to remember picking up on, aside from the obvious smoothness in trundling about, is that the top gear on the auto is slightly taller than sixth on the manual, hence lower motorway revs. But if I was buying one I'd definitely choose the manual. After checking the residuals, anyway...

EDLT

14,698 posts

86 months

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Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
Forty thousand pounds for a four cylinder diesel saloon with two doors missing?!

Crunchy Nutter

238 posts

74 months

[news] 
Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
f1colin said:
I've also had a saloon one of these with the auto and the engine is truly awful - even allowing for the fact its a 4 cylinder diesel. Noisy, rattly, lumpy, utterly agricultural. I was relieved and delighted to part with it. All came clear to me how bad it was when I hired a Kia Diesel in Turkey for the F1 race in 2010 and it was significantly more refined.
I've got to disagree with that as well! The 11-plate one I drive recently was lovely and smooth; quiet and refined. I liked it a lot. Sounds like you had a right mule.

dukebox9reg

770 posts

28 months

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Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
drove a friends pre FL C220d sport a while back and i have to say with the longish drive i had with it, it was very quite and refined, a hell of alot refined than my Vag PD diesel anywho.

Dave Hedgehog

6,294 posts

84 months

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Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
you could have at least sprayed the rims gold ..

Polarbert

17,226 posts

111 months

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Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
No part of me would want to own that without a petrol engine under the bonnet. Something with at least 6 cylinders.

Garlick

40,422 posts

120 months

PH Manager Bloke

[news] 
Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
I thought the engine was quite refined too, not too bad at all.

As for the gearbox it was great to use a Merc manual that felt good, although I readily admit my last experience was a while ago now, and I agree that a manual means you can use the torque more easily. That said I would have preferred an auto myself (and you can always manually downshift if you want with the auto) as I think it suits the car better overall.


kambites

38,080 posts

101 months

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Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
Do Mercedes not have a clutched automatic in their line-up yet?

BMWill

424 posts

59 months

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Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
that's a lot of money for a 2.2 diesel... As much as I love manuals and despise autos, MB are the only company 'allowed' IMO to offer sport autos. Manual boxes somehow look a bit cheap in the Mercs...


rix

1,317 posts

70 months

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Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
Crunchy Nutter said:
I've got to disagree with you on the gearbox... I kept cursing the fact that very time you wanted to access that meaty midrange shove, the gearbox would kick down too many gears lifting the revs far too high, and you'd be left floundering up at 4,000rpm. I was dying for a proper manual so I could use all the torque.
In complete agreement, I'd love a manual in my 535D, even in sport/manual mode if you press your foot to the floor it will kick down, frustrating when there is more than sufficient torque to squirt out a same-gear overtake...

StottyZr

4,650 posts

43 months

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Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
Broken record here wavey

BMW did this 4years ago, but they managed to make the car a lot cheaper, better on fuel and lower tax.

StevieB

769 posts

28 months

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Tuesday 7th February 2012 quote quote all
I agree with the previous guy. Why buy one of these ridiculously over priced four cylinder diesels, when a 3 year manual 330d Coupe will murder it on performance, sound nicer, probably equal it for real world MPG and cost not much more than a third of the money??


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