The new Mercedes-Benz CLC Coupe has now hit our shores. Designed to replace the outgoing Sports Coupe model, it comes with an updated look clearly derived from that of the superb new C-class saloon. Under its skin, though, it’s a reworked version of the old Sports Coupe and therefore based on the previous generation C-class.

Merc says there have been about 1100 changes to this Brazilian-made car, and the main visible ones are re-styles for the panels, lights and boot lid. Of the body panels, only the roof and doors survive from the old car. The new nose is strikingly attractive, allowing the CLC to hold its head high among Mercedes’ more expensive coupes, such as the CLS and CL.

The car has up to 1100 litres of luggage capacity with what Mercedes-Benz describe as variable boot space -” i.e. the back seat folds down. No outback adventures though, as the car only comes with a space-saver as a spare tyre.

There are three trim levels, starting with the strategically-priced $49,900 200K, which comes with 17 spoked alloys, lowered sports suspension, eight airbags, imitation leather and fabric upholstery, but real leather on the sports steering wheel and gear level.

The $53,900 Evolution level gets different 17 twin-spoke alloys, bi-xenon headlights, paddles on the steering wheel, and the Merc direct steer system -” which enhances the previous speed-sensitive system that adjusts with steering angle to respond more sharply and reduce steering effort.

The $58,998 Evolution+ adds full electric memory seats, luxury climate control air con, panoramic sunroof and maple timber trim accents.

Currently there is only a single engine available -” the 1.8-litre Kompressor (supercharged) engine, which develops 135kW and 250Nm. With the five-speed sequential transmission, the car gets you to 100km with 8.4 litres -” and 100km/h in 8.6 seconds, with a top speed of 210km/h and an emissions level of 195g/km. A six-speed manual is also available, but Mercedes-Benz doesn’t expect it to be a big seller.

Despite the small body, Merc has managed to make the CLC cabin roomy, with enough leg room in the rear seat to keep most adults happy. The flick-and-lift action of the front seats makes it easier to climb or load into there. Where it does lose out for the driver is in visibility, especially to the rear where no amount of fiddling with the mirror gave a satisfactory view.

The CLC’s natural habitat is urban, with enough zip to get around in traffic. But in driving over a country route of patchwork bitumen, potholes and gravel, it shone -” soaking up all but the worst, and making the most of the best.

Although not a scorching engine, the little supercharged 1.8-litre is competent, smooth and refined. There was always a touch of lag in the paddle changes on the transmission, but it’s more than adequate for the job in a car that was never intended to be a street-racer.

The Mercedes Benz CLC Sports Coupe combines athletic performance with model looks. The interior of the CLC Sports Coupe affords every luxury and the CLC Sports seats offer complete comfort. With enviable features fitted as standard, such as Parktronic and climate controlled air con, the CLC Coupe offers a thoroughly enjoyable and competent car for today’s fast-paced life.

Pricing: $49,900 – $58,988
Engine: four-cylinder supercharged 1.8-litre petrol
Transmissions: five-speed auto, six-speed manual optional
Power: 135kW, 250Nm
Fuel economy: 7.8-8.4l/100km, emissions 186-195g/km

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