Buyer’s Guide Mercedes-Benz C350 Coupe C204

Buyer’s Guide Mercedes-Benz C350 Coupe C204

Rakish looks and invigorating V6 performance make the four-seat C350 Coupe of 2011 to 2015 a highly desirable daily driver – so here’s everything you need to know about this sexy two-door...


WORDS DAVID SUTHERLAND

IMAGES ERIC RICHARDSON


Natural appeal Buyer’s Guide 204-series C350 Coupe

After offering a disparate, even confused range of medium-sized coupes during the 2000s, Mercedes-Benz finally cut through the murk in 2011 and launched a two-door based on the 204-series C-Class Saloon. The ‘C204’ Coupe effectively replaced both the CLC, which had evolved from the Sport Coupe and was a three-door hatchback configuration, and the second-generation CLK, a sleek pillarless two-door. Both these model families, based on the 203-series C-Class chassis, had drifted into obscurity, which meant a gap of several years until the C204 arrived on the scene.


Buyer’s Guide Mercedes-Benz C350 Coupe C204

Here we focus on the C350, which with its petrol 3.5-litre V6 will be the model many would aspire to own

Mercedes might have been expected to configure the C204 as a scaled down 207-series E-Class Coupe with a graceful pillarless body, but instead chose an overtly sporting fastback shape with a solid B-post, no doubt hoping to appeal to younger customers. It went on sale in June 2011, coinciding with the mid-term revamp of the 204 C-Class and, although even the entry level model cost over £30,000, there were plenty of takers thanks to Mercedes ensuring its PCP scheme made the monthly payments affordable.

There were two four-cylinder petrol models, the C180 and C250, both with the 1.8-litre M271 turbocharged unit with different outputs, and also a pair of 2.1-litre diesels, the C220 CDI and C250 CDI. But here we focus on the C350, which with its petrol 3.5-litre V6 will be the model many would aspire to own. It did not sell in the same numbers as the four-cylinder cars, and this still being the age of the diesel, it did not make it to the end of C204 production in 2015. But they are still easily found for sale even if the choice isn’t large, and this big-engined sporting coupe now costs as little as £10,000, not much more than a quarter of its new price. So, is this Mercedes as good a prospect as it sounds?


Design and engineering

Built on the same wheelbase as the W204 Saloon, but with the alloy bonnet the sole shared body panel, the C-Class Coupe is slightly lower and also a little longer, with the cabin extended beyond the rear axle in order to maximise rear seat space.

The C350 is generation BlueEfficiency, which denoted fuel consumption and aerodynamic optimisation, but there was something appealingly traditional about having a normally aspirated V6 under the bonnet. And the M276 3.5-litre wasn’t short on output, giving 302bhp at a nicely revvy 6,500rpm, and 273lb ft torque at 3,500rpm. It delivered 0-62mph in six seconds dead but also 40.4mpg, aided by Eco stopstart, on the combined cycle. Just one transmission was on offer – the recently introduced 7G-Tronic Plus seven-speed automatic.

As with every other UK-bound C204, the C350 came in AMG Sport trim line as standard. This added AMG body styling (front and rear aprons, side skirts and boot spoiler), 18-inch seven-spoke alloy wheels, sports suspension and speed-sensitive power steering, while on the inside sports seats, an AMG steering wheel with shift paddles and stainless steel pedals with rubber studs were to be found.

All models also featured Agility Control, a reactive damper system, while there was the usual raft of electronic driver aids, Adaptive High beam Assist, Attention Assist, and Parktronic with Parking Guidance, to name just three fitted as standard. The C-Class Coupe was the first Mercedes-Benz with an internet connection via its Comand Online infotainment system.

A wide choice of factory options was offered including 19-inch wheels, a panoramic glass roof, Comand and privacy glass. Extras also came as bundles such as the Dynamic Handling Package (DHP) adding selectable, continuously variable damping and faster gearshifts, while the Memory Package included full electric adjustment as well as heating and cooling for the front seats.

In July 2012, a series of upgrades were announced for the C-Class in general, which included two new option packs for the Coupe. The AMG Sport Plus model cost an extra £1,000 and comprised special trimmings, including 18-inch two-colour wheels, body-coloured boot spoiler, AMG sports seats, black Artico/Dynamica upholstery with contrasting red stitching on the seats and door panels, red seat belts, AMG floor mats with red edging and a silver finish on the auto gearshift paddles. For £530, the AMG Handling Package was available, replacing the Dynamic Handling Package on the C-Coupe and which uprated the steering, engine and exhaust response, plus it added a few more trim extras.


Driving the C350 Coupe

It now counts as a previous generation car, but overall it still feels modern and capable, a notably practical four-seat coupe, and one whose engine is clean enough to pass the London ULEZ emissions standard. But let’s look back to what Mercedes Enthusiast said about it when it was new in 2011.

“Stoke the V6 with the throttle and it fires a wicked, burbly rasp from its two tailpipes,” we wrote. “This and the hard induction note are what ring in your ears as you watch the speedo whip past 40-50-60-70mph. Go for the redline and the V6 really comes into its own above 3,500rpm, each upshift keeping the revs high, in the meat of the power curve.” But we added, “It’s just a shame it sounds so humdrum on idle. Sometimes you just can’t beat eight cylinders.”

We liked the transmission: “The 7G-Tronic Plus automatic is effectively two gearboxes in one. Leave it in its default Economy setting and it will seamlessly slot gears home as early as possible. Select the auto’s Manual or Sport setting, however, and it will hold gears for longer – right up to the redline if necessary.”

Styling ticked the box too: “It turns heads like a Benz coupe should, feels even better to drive than its saloon sibling yet maintains a high degree of refinement on the move.” And finally, we stated: “If sharp handling and more youthful looks are your bag, then the C-Class Coupe is definitely the one to have.”


What you’ll pay

Given the four-year production window and single, AMG Sport trim, pricing falls within a narrow band. The cheapest you’re likely to see is £10,000, and for that you can expect 100,000 miles and three or four owners, but generally decent condition and two key fobs.

But due to the C-Class being sporty rather than a workhorse car, it’s not hard to find examples with relatively low mileage. However, sub-50,000 miles would push the price up to near £15,000, about the maximum a C350 can presently command. A more typical price is around £12,000, which secures a 60,000- to 70,000-mile car. You are most unlikely to see a 204-series C350 at a Mercedes-Benz dealer, as they’re considered too long in the tooth.


Just the facts

TECHNICAL DATA Mercedes-Benz C350 Coupe (C204)

  • ENGINE M276 3,498cc V6
  • Max POWER 302bhp @ 6,500rpm
  • Max TORQUE 273lb ft @ 3,500-5,250rpm
  • TRANSMISSION 7-speed auto, RWD
  • WEIGHT 1,615kg
  • 0-62MPH 6.0sec
  • TOP SPEED 155mph
  • FUEL CONSUMPTION 40.4mpg
  • CO2 EMISSIONS 164g/km
  • YEARS PRODUCED 2011-2015

All figures from Mercedes-Benz; fuel consumption according to NEDC combined

Spotted for sale

PRIVATE SELLER C350 AMG Sport

2011/61, black, black leather, Harman Kardon sound system, 69,000 miles, £10,450, south east London


C350 Coupe Inside and out
Powertrain

The C350’s M276 V6 engine is dependable, but there can be issues with the timing chains, of which there are three: the primary timing chain, and the two secondary chains. The primary chain isn’t known to give trouble, but the secondary ones can stretch, and illuminate the engine warning light.


Buyer’s Guide Mercedes-Benz C350 Coupe C204

The secondary chains can also rattle on start-up. This is usually not the chain itself, but is because oil drains from the chain tensioners while the engine isn’t running. But this won’t cause damage – even Mercedes technical documents state that this is purely a noise and doesn’t affect the running of the engine. However, check valves can be fitted to the tensioners to prevent oil drainage and cure the noise.

The 722.9 seven-speed automatic gearbox, fitted across most Mercedes models of that period, is prone to the usual electronic plate failure. Check the service history of the gearbox, as the problem is more likely if the autobox has not had its five-year/75,000-mile oil change.


SPECIALIST OVERVIEW

Steve Dickens of Autoclass Garage in Milton Keynes “We don’t see this model in the workshop very often. That’s because not too many were bought in the first place and they’re like all other modern Mercedes models – they don’t often go wrong.” www.autoclassgarage.co.uk

Engine stop-start tech was a relatively new thing back then...


Suspension, steering and braking system

The suspension is broadly the same set up as on the 204-series C-Class Saloons and Estates and is afflicted by the same issues. Front arm bushes wear on high mileage cars, causing thumping noises. Road springs break front and rear, and front shock absorbers can cause a light knocking from the suspension.

There are no significant problems in the steering system, but the wheel alignment needs to be set up correctly. The steering wheel at the wrong position when the road wheels are at the straight-ahead is one sign that adjustment is needed.

Anti-locking braking sensors can fail – you’ll know this has happened because the brake warning light will be on.

Make the usual check on brake discs to determine remaining life, by looking for a lip on the outside edge of the disc, and look out for non-Mercedes brake pads. Cheap, non-genuine brakes can cause brake squeals.

It takes little effort to travel quickly in the C350; Sport button of the DHP


Bodywork and wheels

The galvanised body panels should not be rusting yet, even though early cars are now 11 years old so the presence of corrosion, or any paintwork issues, points to a poor quality accident repair.

Every car has at least 18-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels, and these are vulnerable due their ultra low profile tyres. Potholes can crack them, typically on the inside edge, so they should be checked carefully.

All C350s sold in the UK came in Mercedes’ more racy looking trim line.

In July 2012, a series of upgrades were announced for the C-Class


Interior and electrics

There is a lot of interior equipment that can go wrong, so all functions need checked out to ensure they’re working correctly. In particular, the Comand unit and audio operation should be checked, as problems with them can be expensive to fix.

Buyer’s Guide Mercedes-Benz C350 Coupe C204 - interior

Examine the seats for rips and tears, as repair or replacement of this type of fitment is invariably expensive. Also inspect the heated seats if fitted, as the elements are known to fail.

Check the air conditioning coldness – if the system is low on gas or empty of it, this could highlight a leak from the condenser radiator.

Adults can squeeze into the back; carbon trim a rare option; 450L boot.


Need more power?

We imagine that the pace and handling of the C350 would satisfy most owners, but if not you could step up to the model introduced shortly into C204 production – the C63 AMG. This is an unashamed, high performance coupe with an incredible 6.2-litre, normally aspirated V8 (codenamed M156) producing just over 450bhp at a screaming 6,800rpm, and some 440lb ft torque.

We mention it because although it was nearly £60,000 when new, the difference in value between it and a C350 is now as little as £5,000. Around £20,000, or maybe a little less, is enough for a 2011 car with 80,000 miles, and there are many more of them on sale at any one time than C350s. As with all C350s, this monster is ULEZ friendly, but you would have to factor in much higher fuel and maintenance costs.

Typical basic servicing costs

(A/B services including 20 per cent VAT)

MODEL OIL SERVICE MAJOR SERVICE

All models £195 £295

Quotes from Autoclass Garage

Non-routine servicing costs
  • ★ Replace both secondary timing chains £1,750
  • ★ Fit check valves to the secondary timing chains including new tensioners £750
  • ★ Replace front brake discs and pads £330
  • ★ Fit replacement autobox electronic plate £850
  • ★ Fit two new front road springs £395
  • ★ Four premium brand tyres (front 225/40R18, rear 255/35R18) £550

What you’ll pay

£9,500-£11,000 Early, 2011 C350 Coupe, 100,000 miles or more and at least three owners

£11,000-£13,000 A typical price for a C350 Coupe, with 70,000 to 90,000 miles, two to three owners and a full service history

£13,000-£15,000 The top price band, and for this money expect sub 50,000 miles, no more than two owners and a Mercedes-Benz service history record

Spot ted for sale

USED CAR DEALER

C350 AMG Sport

2012/62, black, black leather, 45,900 miles, full Mercedes service history, £14,990, Camberley

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