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Mercedes coupes: the next generation

Published: 14 October 2008

Mercedes is to shake up its entire family of coupes, CAR hears. The changes kick off with the new E-class coupe and will include a proper new C-class coupe (instead of today’s short-cut CLC), as well as repositioning the top-dog CL.

The CLK badge will die next year, replaced by the E-class coupe. It was shown in concept guise as the Fascination shooting brake concept car at the Paris motor show, which shows the front-end styling of the new E family, including the coupe.

Why launch a sporty two-door E-class? Simple. It’ll at a stroke boost sales figures for the total E-class range, especially against its 5-series and A6 rivals. It’ll move the old CLK up half a notch (with, we suspect, according price rises). And it’ll pave the way for the subsequent switch from CL to S-class coupé designation.

Yes, Mercedes-Benz is secretly preparing to tweak its entire coupe range.

From CLC to C-class. Why Mercedes is rethinking its cheapest coupe

In sync with these name changes, the CLC replacement due in early 2010 will be sold as a C-class coupe. About six months after the signed-off fixed-head, we are likely to see a four-seater soft-top C-class cabrio.

We don’t yet have any artist’s impressions of the new C-class coupe, but we’ve attached a couple of official designers’ sketches for the current CLC, which give a flavour of what Mercedes is trying to achieve with its smallest coupe.

Although the engineering bods in Stuttgart have made provision for a cabriolet version of the new C, marketing has yet to give the green light to what could be the fifth C-class bodystyle.

The best bit of the new two-door C-class cabrio is its positioning. It’s aimed precisely at the gap between the A3 and A5 soft-tops, and open-air 1- and 3-series. Not just in price, but also in terms of size, accommodation, equipment and engine line-up.

Click ‘Next’ to read the full technical story on the new C-class cabrio

How much will the new C-class cabrio cost?

The fun-in-the-sun C-class will be substantially less expensive than the most basic SLK, and around £7000 less than the cheapest two-door E-class. That points to a starting price around £27,000.

The two-door C offers slightly more rear legroom as well as a bigger boot (450 litres with the roof up, 405 with the top down) than the longer, sleeker and more elegant E-class spin-off.

To keep a lid on costs, the chassis and basic vehicle architecture will be taken over from the C-class saloon – so it should be a roomy convertible package. You won’t have to send the kids ahead in a Smart Fortwo.

Will the C-class cab have a folding hard-top, or old-school cloth?

Our sources point to a power-operated fabric hood, motorised belt-bringers, a clever pop-up wind deflector and the practical Airscarf neck warmer we’ve already seen on the SLK. All this tech will add a lot of heft, mind you…

There will also be new engines galore on the C coupe and cab. Highlights include:

• The super-frugal and extra-clean direct-injection petrol-fed 2.0-litre four (codenamed M271)
• A similarly fuelled V6 (M272)
• The new 2.2-litre diesel CDI (OM642)
• Top-dog 3.0-litre V6 CDI (OM651)

And – inevitably – the hybrid C-classes

These offer an average increase in power and torque of between 10 and 20 percent, but the big news is the hybridisation offered across the board. By specifying mild, full or plug-in hybrid modules, Merc will be able to reduce the CO2 emission in the EC cycle by 10 to 50 percent.

As soon as lithium ion batteries are widely available and more affordable, a useful power boost of up to 65bhp will also become part of the BlueEfficiency package.

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

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