Convincing all-round package whets appetite but leaves good, keen drivers craving more theatrics.

26 FEB 2019: Another month, another tech-heavy two-door Benz with a fluid, wind-cheating shape that never fails to turn heads. Before you ask, this car’s Selenite Grey metallic is from the standard C-Class colour palette. On the equipment front, the leather-upholstered sports seats, COMAND infotainment and 19-inch AMG alloys are all standard C300 features. So too is a Burmester surround sound system featuring 13 speakers, nine-channel amp and 590 watt output, which should prove music to anyone’s ears.

Optional equipment fitted to the test car is modest: AMG Line ornamentation ($1500) and the Vision Package ($4800). The latter includes a panoramic glass sunroof, intelligent multi-beam LED lights and an ever-valuable head-up display. The AMG bodystyling includes that impressive Diamond radiator grille.

Unlike other Merc coupes, this one is not pillarless. Dark-tinted glass extends from the B-pillar back to the rear, which helps achieve a pillarless look. The doors are frameless but rear-seat passengers can’t drop their shallow triangle of side glass. It’s very cosy back there, so adults need to be pretty slim and agile to elegantly take a rear seat. Taller adults need not apply. In typically classy M-B fashion, the front seats gently power forward and upwards when you act on the sturdy metal side lever to access the rear. As good as the coupe looks, it does lack utility, and we soon wondered whether a C-Class cabriolet might be a better bet, especially if you carry children.

Upon start-up, in Benz two-door tradition, driver and front seat passenger are automatically fed their seatbelts. Those front seats are supremely comfortable with four-way electropneumatic lumbar support. Up ahead, the miracle of the Black Ash open-pore wood and aluminium trim is evident in the photos. It doesn’t show up all the dust that is invariably drawn to the gloss-black surfaces favoured by many interior designers. The driver benefits from a fully digital 12.3in instrument display while a simple analogue clock stands out on the neat fascia that is dominated by a trio of circular air vents.

Driven positively, the C300 steers and grips well and offers terrific composure without sacrificing comfort. But is it quick enough? Well, a 0-100km/h time of six seconds flat suggests it will satisfy most drivers. If you demand lively performance, shift manually, or choose the Sport setting via Dynamic Select and plunder the mid-range. Go one better (or Sport Plus) and it flies. Left in default Comfort, the car can feel a bit laboured on measured throttle openings until the turbocharger feeds in a meaningful slug of torque.

As good as it is, we concluded that an equivalent C-Class drop-top would get our vote because it adds another dimension in luxury. The cabriolet looks equally impressive with a customisable canvas hood and it offers wonderful insulation. And the premium to pay for the cabrio version? You won’t; MBNZ doesn’t offer a C300 Cabriolet so we’d either have to make do with a lesser-powered C200 or dip further into the line of credit to raise the princely sum of $140,600 for a C43 AMG that serves 287kW and 520Nm from its twin-blower V6. Such theatre is sorely tempting but the price is in a different league too...


ENGINE 1991cc 4-cyl turbo

POWER 190kW (255bhp)

TORQUE 370Nm from 1300rpm

TRANSMISSION 9-speed auto

DRIVETRAIN rear-wheel drive

WEIGHT 1640kg

LENGTH 4.69m

WHEELS 19in AMG twin-spoke

TYRES 225/40 R19 (f) 255/35 R19 (r)

0-100km/h 6.0 secs

FUEL CLAIM 7.0L/100km

PRICE from $98,000



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