NEWS

2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe: Up Close

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Early photos had me worried the C-Class two-door would look bulbous past the B-pillars, with bloated shoulders and too much empty sheet metal above the rear fenders. The coupe looks trimmer in person, though it isn’t as lean as the sedan. Up front, the nose work — which is similar to that of the 2012 C-Class sedan — is most apparent in the headlights, which lose last year’s eyelids for a more scalloped look.

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Cabin materials appear a decided step up from the 2011 C-Class. The consolidated buttons about the center stack and steering wheel make for a cleaner, less scattershot look. The climate controls still use the old C’s flimsy dials, however, and I’ll have to spend more time in the coupe’s one-piece bucket seats. At first sit, these didn’t feel particularly comfortable.

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Backseat entry is simple enough, thanks to a power driver’s seat that motors forward automatically for easy entrance and returns to its original position thereafter. Coupes often incur a long reach to the B-pillars for the seat belts, though luxury models often circumvent this with belt presenters that power forward when you get in. The C-Class coupe doesn’t have that feature, but the lower anchors slide along rails that allow for easy buckling while staying out of the way if you need to get in back. It’s a simple but effective trick.

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Mercedes doesn’t have legroom specs for the coupe yet, but for comparison, I hopped in back of a C-Class sedan — not exactly a paragon of rear-seat roominess itself — and the differences are significant. Rear legroom is tight in the coupe, and any passengers you put back there may beg you to adjust your seat forward a bit. Headroom drops 1.4 inches versus the sedan, and adults won’t want to be back there for long.

Few people buy luxury coupes for their backseat confines, and some competitors — the Infiniti G37 coupe comes to mind — are downright inhospitable in back. Conversely, the BMW 3 Series coupe has surprisingly reasonable accommodations.

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Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey Mays

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