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acid 22.12.2008 13:43

Mercedes Benz CLC Review Mercedes Benz CLC 200 CDi Review

The new CLC from Mercedes Benz is the latest addition to the coupe family and the C-list.

The baby of the family perhaps, but Mercedes prefers the word 'youthful'. And so it is, especially when viewed from the side. In profile, the Mercedes Benz CLC shows its 4.4-metre length to good effect with a sleek style emphasised by the 18-inch alloys, snugly fitting the wheel arches.
The tyres are very low profile and amount to little more than rubber bands, so even the smallest of curbs are capable of damaging the alloys.
The long bonnet doesn't help nervous drivers but does add to the sleek and purposeful image. Unmistakably a Mercedes, the front of the CLC features a wide grille dominated by a large three-pointed star, above the snarling mesh panel in the lower front skirt.
The rear end is described as striking, youthful and progressive. A certain amount of exaggeration for sure. However, the almost full-width brake light strip that nestles under the rear spoiler, which itself curves down at the edges to echo the lower line of the light clusters, does make an impact. To add to the sportiness, the lower part of the rear bumper has a diffuser effect that hints at the capability while the polished chrome tailpipe adds a touch of sparkle.
Looking slightly incongruous are the black rear windows and screen, which were options fitted to the test car adding £250 to the £23,515 OTR price. At night and especially in bad weather, there is almost no rearward visibility through the dark glass and even under normal circumstances, the high boot line limits the view.
On the other hand, the panoramic sunroof is impressive. It is formed of two parts - the front section opens while the rear panel remains static. Viewed from the inside, the glass sections are separated by a roof beam, out of which, the individual sunblinds extend. But during daylight hours occupants will want to get as much sun as possible.
What with the black roof lining, which is part of the Sport package, darkened windows and black upholstery, the test car’s interior was very dark indeed. This was particularly true in the rear seats where the small windows let in very little light, but even at the business end it sometimes felt like driving your own personal cave.
Mercedes Benz CLC 200 CDi

There is a choice of three upholstery colours in a mix of fabric and Artico, which is a very convincing man-made leather. If you want the real thing it comes with heated front seats and will add £1,500 but on the plus side, there is no extra charge for metallic body colours.

Whether it is the SE with the cloth and Artico seat covers, or the Sport which just has the faux leather, the seats are a very snug fit and therefore very supportive should you decide explore the CLC's potential. They are also very, very firm but strangely comfortable.
The front seats have Easy-Entry - a lever that folds and slides the chairs allowing people to get in and out of the two rear seats, which is no easy thing if you are tall because of the low cant-rail. Afterwards the seat returns to its original position. It is a simple thing but some coupes and three-door cars don't have this function.
The rear seats have a 1/3-2/3 split and fold facility that can increase the luggage capacity from 310- to 1,100-litres. Having that amount of space is useful but it just seems wrong to make use of a Mercedes Benz Coupe in that manner.
Although the Mercedes Benz CLC is quite long and legroom is adequate, the car is fairly narrow. Inside, there is just about enough elbow room so that you don't find yourself jostling with the front passenger when changing gear. But on the other side, there is very little space between the seat and the door, which makes it a tight squeeze to get your fingers to the seat's adjusters and the action of turning the steering wheel is a little restricted and could be better.
The split-level fascia is extremely neat and tidy and the large central tunnel provides a platform for the high-level gear change and storage/armrest but disappointingly, the brushed aluminium-effect surrounds and panels are made from hard plastic that is not up to the usual Mercedes-Benz quality and therefore a little disappointing. In fact, I would go as far as to say that if it wasn't for the badge, the Mercedes Benz CLC could be from any number of car-makers. Even the check-background dials with red needles, while very smart, do not stand out in declaration that this is a Mercedes Benz.
Mercedes Benz CLC 200 CDi

The top speed of 126mph is fine but it takes 11.1 seconds to complete the 0-62mph dash and although it might seem fast enough, it is not what is expected when the word 'turbocharger' is used in the description. There are different settings and a manual sequential shift via the leather-trimmed gearstick or paddles on the steering wheel; an optional extra at £1,050, but for me the Sport setting just doesn't deliver, although it does make for slightly better performance
The Sport trim includes sports suspension, lowered by 15mm at the front and 5mm at the back which allows drivers to enjoy the pleasures of country roads. And it is pleasurable because once 'wound up', the CLC 200 CDI enters a different phase more befitting the Sport name. On fast bends, the car behaves very well and becomes eager to show off its agility, while on motorway journeys it demonstrates a smooth and quiet attitude.
As you would expect from a diesel, the CLC test car was the most frugal automatic of the range with a combined figure of 48.7mpg derived from 32.1mpg for the urban cycle and 52.3mpg for the extra-urban. That said, the CLC 220 CDI with automatic transmission has the same figures, which is not surprising as it houses the same engine as the 200 but with higher outputs.
For petrol fans, the range comprises three engine sizes; 2.5-, 3.5- and a 1.8-litre with two different power and torque yields.
Prices range from £19,920 to £28,640 and although there are a lot of optional extras to be had, the standard CLC is well equipped to cope with everyday needs. For instance, the test car came with front, side and front curtain airbags, ABS with Brake Assist (BAS), automatic climate control, speed-sensitive Direct Steering, powered and heated folding door mirrors, front fog lamps, auto headlights and wipers, rake and reach-adjustable steering column and Parktronic parking sensors, front and rear.
A CD/radio with six speakers and telephone keypad is standard issue but in the test car, these were upgraded to a 6CD auto-changer with media interface for MP3 and USB storage devices for an extra £340, and £385 pays for telephone pre-wiring with hands-free.
I get the impression that the Mercedes Benz CLC is one for the ladies. The narrow seats and shoulder room suggests that it is suited to smaller frames. It is a fairly large car but feels small enough not to be intimidating and of course the three-pointed star makes a difference.

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