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Test Drive: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C250 Coupe

Mercedes-Benz introduced the first coupe to its C-Class lineup this year, and there’s not much I dislike about this car. My test car, a 2012 C250 Coupe, was not only fun to drive, but also fuel-efficient. After two road trips and more than 100 miles, I was able to achieve fuel economy of 19/30 mpg city/highway, which is slightly less than the EPA’s 21/31 mpg city/highway estimate.

The C250 Coupe has a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque, as well as a seven-speed automatic transmission. On the 45-minute drive to my relatives’ house in Maryland for Thanksgiving, the C250 was extremely capable on the highway. It took every bump with ease, even with 18-inch AMG wheels, and had plenty of passing power. However, when I put the car in sport mode, I noticed the C250’s ride could be harsh, as I felt every tiny bump.

The major disappointment I had with the C250 was going up a steep hill near my house. While the C250 had plenty of power at speed, I was shocked when it struggled to go up the hill. Not only did the turbo four feel underpowered, but the transmission couldn’t find the right gear. My $37,720 test car was optioned to $44,510, and for that kind of money, I expect the Benz to climb hills with ease. Turbo lag was also a disappointment in an otherwise enjoyable experience behind the wheel. It was more pronounced than in other cars I’ve driven with turbo four-cylinders. The delay seemed longer than normal to me, but once power kicks in, there’s plenty of muscle. Despite these negatives, the C250’s handling was compliant and controlled, and it was a blast to throw into tight corners.

The C250 Coupe has an exterior that is sporty, yet classy. I liked the C250’s authoritative grille and clean lines. It would be difficult to miss the fact that a Mercedes is driving behind you with the enormous three-point star in the grille. Still, I liked it much better than the old hood ornaments Mercedes has mostly done away with.

The interior was tight, but it’s a coupe, so I wasn’t disappointed. I loved the big panoramic moonroof and all the high-tech features. The seats were comfortable and everything inside was top-notch. Unlike the wood trim that I despise in every one of my test cars, the C250’s all-black interior had aluminum trim, which added a simple, elegant touch. The back seat was cramped, but would be okay for passengers in a pinch.

My only gripe with the interior was the cruise control lever, which I turned on every time I went to put the turn signal on. The Mercedes COMAND single-knob joystick, which controls the audio and navigation systems, was tricky at first, but not too difficult once you get used to it.

Overall, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C250 Coupe is a great car, and more torque for slow-speed hill climbs would make the driving experience even better.

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