Friday, June 16, 2006

2008 Mercedes C-class Sportcoupé

A recent report was made on auto-future about the next Mercedes Sportcoupé. Remembering what was written at the time: “So what can we expect from this new Mercedes? Mercedes is learning from the success of the BMW 1-series and will apply it in this new car. Instead of being just a 3-door version of the C-class (as the current sportcoupé that is almost as expensive as the regular C), they are making it a bit smaller (and with a smaller wheelbase) and cheaper. This means bad news for many manufacturers. Other than that one can expect a lower base price but very big, expensive (and profitable) options list. ” Well, everything was right but a surprise emerged from recent news in German Auto-Bild: the next Sportcoupé will be just a major restyling of the current model. The platform and underpinnings are kept the same but a new skin will appear with a front design more closer to the new C-class W204. This will keep development costs very low and Mercedes can sell it for less money. This means big worries for other car companies…

What will customers loose? Not much really. Of course the new car will miss some new developments of the W204 saloon (Presafe system for example). And one might think that by using an “old” platform the sportcoupé would be in disadvantage against other competitors. But… what competitors? Only the BMW 1 series is in the same league as the sportcoupé, the rest of the cars in the compact class are clearly inferior machines. We will see a formidable fight between the small BMW and the new C-sportcoupé. Other cars will have to upgrade a lot to offer the same drive feel and confort as the uber German compacts. Only RWD can provide such drive quality.

The only cloud in Mercedes strategy for this model is in design. From the reliable interpretation by Huckfeldt it seems that the profile and the rear do not change much from the current model. Also a 5-door version is not expected (a strong selling point for the small BMW). A strong design is thus needed to reinforce the new car appeal. But of course, Mercedes will work hard on the detailing of the new car so expect neat touches and flawless execution.

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