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Launched this week, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe is a welcome entry for both well-heeled punters and Mercedes-Benz Malaysia. The three-pointed star has been shining bright of late, with the W205 C-Class sedan leading the brand’s charge to the top of the premium sales chart in 2015.

Besides being the youngest of the German compact premium execs – the F30 BMW 3 Series has just passed mid-life here (facelift launched in November 2015) while the B9 Audi A4 isn’t here yet – Mercedes’ new, curvy design language has been well-accepted by the market. In fact, design – in and out – is the decisive factor here as the C-Class holds no major technological advantage over its peers.

While that’s true for the sedan, the trend may not be so clear cut for the C205 Coupe, which has the handsome BMW 4 Series and Audi A5 Coupe duo to contend with. Here’s why.

Despite only sharing its front wings and bonnet with the sedan, the C-Class Coupe has the exact same footprint as its four-door sibling – measuring 4,686 mm long and 1,810 mm wide, with an identical 2,840 mm wheelbase. It sits 37 mm lower than the W205 at 1,405 mm tall.

Being so dimensionally similar to the donor sedan is bucking the trend. The BMW 4 Series Coupe is 5 mm longer and 14 mm wider than the F30 3 Series, in addition to being 52 mm lower than the sedan. The outgoing Audi A5 Coupe, which will be a last-gen car in two weeks time, is 75 mm shorter than the B8 A4, but is 28 mm wider and a substantial 55 mm lower.

These are more than just bald figures, as both the 4 Series and A5 are visually differentiated from their sedan siblings in design and size – the intention was to create stand-alone models, hence the use of a unique, bigger number for the coupes, as opposed to the now defunct “3 Series Coupe” name or “A4 Coupe”. No such thing from Stuttgart of course; if not, we would be looking at a not so nice sounding D-Class.

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The C205 is actually longer than both the BMW and Audi, but few would have guessed from just looking, as it’s the narrowest and tallest of them all. Coupes look better wide and low, and for me, the Audi A5’s proportions is near perfect. It’s nearly 10 years old now, but tracing the movement of one passing by is still a treat for these eyes. The only other modern car body that has captivated me for so long is the Alfa Romeo 156. Coincidentally, both were penned by Walter de Silva.

Good design is enduring, but the C-Class Coupe is all about the now. MBM has opted to import the two-door exclusively in AMG Line, and our range topping C 300 wears 19-inch multi-spoke alloys that go well with the rest of the jewellery on display. An A-Class-style diamond grille with chrome pins, a chrome front lip and the fussiest rear bumper I’ve seen in a long time compete for one’s attention.

The latter comes with vertical “vents” on the sides, two extra reflectors flanking the license plate (not found on the AMG Line sedan), two chrome exhaust tips (the actual round pipes are hidden within) and a body-coloured diffuser. It’s too overstyled for this old hat, but I’m pretty sure the modern day Mercedes buyer will love the bling on show.

Benz for old men? The increasingly ubiquitous 45 AMG cars piloted by privileged young males and the A 250 crowd are proof that M-B’s two-pronged approach of maintaining its traditional luxury car clientele, and target youth with sporty compact models have been successful.

Our Hafriz Shah brought his new C 300 sedan along for the photo session (head-to-head, ass-to-ass comparo gallery here), and all three of us in attendance (Sherman Sim behind the lens) were united in preferring the black four-door, which is exclusively available here in AMG Line.

It could be the dark paint masking some of the bling, the sedan’s more elegant twin-bar grille, or its menacing “bad boy” look; but for me, the two-door’s “no boot” curved rear end isn’t very elegant in this class. The lumpy behind and thick sides don’t do much for a dynamic look, and the C205 runs a risk of looking like a baby GLE Coupe from the back.

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We’re not big fans of black-painted roofs, but this car could do with it to bridge the C 300’s glass roof and rear screen – that small piece of white metal roof sticks out quite a bit, emphasised by a shallow, low-set rear windscreen. Perhaps, a colour other than white would have made it less jarring. The panoramic glass roof, which can be opened, is exclusive to the 300.

It has its angles, the C-Coupe, and those 19-inch AMG multi-spokes are gorgeous. The AMG star-spoke 18s seen on the C 200 and C 250 at the launch are rather fetching too (and not undersized by any means), but this setup is visually perfect. We understand that the after the first batch, C 250s will come with these 19s as well, so the only C 300 exterior clue is the glass roof, boot badge aside.

I may have been unmoved by the exterior styling, but the interior’s sense of occasion is undeniable – this is just a dashboard of a C-Class, but it feels special. It’s here where you are most of the time, not standing outside looking at the car, and it’s a sumptuous blend of classy design and lovely detailing.

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Stuttgart’s design renaissance – which started at both ends with the W176 A-Class and W222 S-Class in 2012/2013 – included a complete overhaul in cabin design, marked by the use of a symmetrical dash design, round AC vents and an iPad-style central screen on smaller models. The W205 C-Class cabin is a nice evolution of the one in the New Global Compact Car range, and is richer in design and appointment.

And this is perhaps the best trim and colour combo one can pick – black, with brushed metal trim and red leather on the seats and door cards. Our tester was specified with carbon fibre centre console trim, which is cool but probably a bit too flashy for some. Customer cars will instead feature black open pore ash wood trim, as per the C 300 sedan and GLC 250. The unpolished wood is understated and classy at the same time.

Both C 250 and C 300 sport leather-lined dash tops with contrast stitching, but only the top variant gets the COMAND Online infotainment system with a large hi-res 8.4-inch screen. Not the most intuitive of central systems perhaps, but the graphics look impressive and the screen befits a car that starts north of RM300k.

The Audio 20 system C 200/C 250 buyers will have to make do with comes with a 7.0-inch screen, made to look tiny by a thick black bezel. That system’s Garmin GPS also looks out of place at this level.

But that’s not our concern here, as the C 300 gets all the bells and whistles, including a Burmester surround sound system. It has 13 speakers, but doesn’t sound very punchy to this writer (verified by audiophile colleague Anthony Lim). Never mind, because those speaker grilles alone – probably the most elaborate of its kind in the car world – are worth the price of admission. The two front seats look good and work as well.

The analogue clock on the centre stack is another C 300-only item. While not very practical in location (too low), it’s another nice detail that adds points to overall ambience, which is a solid A even before you contrast it with the 4 Series cabin. The familiar BMW cockpit might just be acceptable in the 3er, but feels too functional and workmanlike in a coupe. The next-gen A5 will get a B9 A4-style dashboard oozing minimalist cool, but for now, Merc is miles ahead.

It’s not so clear cut in ultimate driving satisfaction, though. The BMW may have its foibles, but the 4 Series is a very good drive. Even if you don’t take into account seat-of-the-pants, all out attack driving (which we think isn’t very relevant for stylish coupes like this), drivetrain performance and suspension character make a difference in the daily commute and occasional brisk drives out of town.

The C 300 is powered by a 2.0 litre turbocharged engine with 245 hp and 370 Nm of torque available from 1,300 to 4,000 rpm. Paired to a 7G-Tronic Plus seven-speed conventional automatic transmission sending drive to the rear wheels, the M 274 propels the C 300 Coupe from 0-100 km/h sprint in six seconds flat and top speed is capped at 250 km/h. Although that’s a tenth of a second slower than the C 300 sedan (at 1,565 kg, the two-door is 85 kg heavier), it’s still very swift, and we’re not left wanting for more speed.

The BMW 428i, with 245 hp and 350 Nm, is 0.2 seconds faster to 100 km/h; but for us, the more significant difference is the performance of the respective transmissions. The 7G-Tronic works well most of the time, but in Comfort mode – which was where I left Dynamic Select most of the time – the ‘box occasionally took too long to upshift in urban driving, leaving the engine revving awkwardly for a brief window.

I had no issues with the deliberately delayed response in Comfort though, as there’s Sport when you need more urgency. Unlike some Sport modes, the C 300 doesn’t feel like a big dog on a leash here (that’s Sport+), although revs start from a higher point and are maintained longer.

I can imagine many using Sport on default. There’s a deeper, more guttural tone and even the occasional pop on the overrun in Sport+, which raises exhaust volume to entertaining levels. Not quite 45 AMG levels, but the C 300-only sports exhaust system is pretty hilarious when you’re in hooligan mood.

There’s a customisable Individual mode too, and I used it to pair Sport drive with Comfort steering. In any case, there’s precious little feel in whatever steering mode you’re in, with Sport just piling on resistance. Palpable increment between modes, but ultimately the BMW’s engine is sweeter revving and its gearbox unflappable.

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String a few corners together in the C 300 and you’ll notice tight body control, high grip levels and good resistance to lean. Mercedes says that the Coupe gets a new four-link front axle with wheel suspension decoupled from the spring strut, for better suspension response to steering movements. Ride height is 15 mm lower compared to the sedan, and sports suspension is standard on the C 250/C 300.

The ride is certainly firm, but it never gets jiggly on the highway or too uncomfortable in daily driving – just remember to stay clear of potholes and badly patched up manholes, plus those nasty horizontal ridges. When you consider the sports suspension’s firm hold of the body, the mega 19-inch wheels and run-flat Pirellis, the C 300 rides pretty decently and copes well with cruising duties.

Too firm a hold for me, personally. Our roads aren’t very good, and the C 300 has a tendency to skip and hop over rough patches, which also means that power can’t be put to ground efficiently in such instances. A bit more “give and take” would have been great, and the standard, less-focused “Agility Control” suspension on the C 200 could be the ideal balance.

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So, is the C 300 worth your RM388,888? The CBU imported coupe is RM81,000 costlier than the CKD locally assembled C 300 sedan with similar specs; and it doesn’t fare very well as a full four seater either, with limited head and legroom with the front seat set to this 170 cm writer’s driving position.

One would have to be a big fan of the C-Class Coupe’s design to choose it over the sedan. For you sir, looks come first. Prefer the C 300 Coupe over the RM356,800 BMW 428i? Looks come first.