BMW 4 Series Coupe 420d xDrive M Sport auto
List price £38,685
Target Price £35,032
Based on the popular 3 Series, so inherits fine handling and a superb infotainment system.
Mercedes C-Class Coupe C 220 d AMG Line auto
List price £37,340
Target Price £34,315
C-Class Coupe has sleek looks similar to the S-Class combined with a stylish interior.
If you’re in the market for an executive car but rarely carry more than one passenger, perhaps the idea of a coupe has crossed your mind. In which case, with a facelifted BMW 4 Series Coupe arriving in April, is now the perfect time to buy? And, crucially, should you choose one over a Mercedes C-Class Coupe?
Here we’re testing the C-Class Coupe in entry-level diesel (C220 d) form, but in range-topping, and lavishly equipped, AMG Line trim. The Mercedes faces the 420d Coupe M Sport, which we’d usually recommend in regular rear-wheel-drive form. However, on this occasion BMW could only provide a four-wheel-drive xDrive model, which adds £1500 to the asking price but compensates with better traction in slippery conditions.
What are they like to drive?
Despite having the bigger engine, the C-Class Coupe trails the 4 Series for outright power. However, while the four-wheel-drive BMW unsurprisingly leaps away from the mark with more vigour, the C-Class actually completed the 30-70mph sprint in less time during our tests. Its engine also starts to pull from lower revs, which means swift progress can generally be achieved in a more relaxed fashion.
Both cars shift smoothly through their gears in automatic mode, although if you are changing gear manually – using the paddles behind the steering wheel – the BMW responds more swiftly to commands and lets you hold on to gears for longer.
Both of our test cars came with upgraded suspension. Our 4 Series had adaptive dampers (£750), while our C-Class was fitted air suspension (£895). Each system allows you to switch between Normal, Comfort and Sport modes to tailor ride comfort.
That said, if comfort is your thing, you’ll find the C-Class Coupe more appealing. Its softest mode allows a touch more body lean through bends than the BMW’s equivalent setting, but the trade-off is a wonderfully supple ride over all but the most vicious of potholes. The 4 Series doesn’t ride badly, but feels that bit firmer overall, resulting in more shimmy over patchy roads.
Switch to the sportier settings and the C-Class Coupe becomes unnecessarily bouncy. The 4 Series, on the other hand, delivers excellent body control and keeps its composure along undulating roads.
However, putting its power through all four wheels robs the 4 Series of some of its finesse; some of the agility that makes the two-wheel-drive 420d our preferred 4 Series model is lost. Not only that, but the C-Class Coupe has noticeably more front-end grip than its rival through tight twists and turns.
'If comfort is your thing, you’ll find the C-Class Coupe more appealing'
We prefer the C-Class Coupe's steering, too – especially in Comfort mode. It isn’t perfect, but is undoubtedly more precise than the BMW’s and more feelsome than the steering in some other versions of the C-Class.
Neither car can claim to be particularly refined. Both engines sound gruff, emitting plenty of diesel clatter under hard acceleration, although the Mercedes’ transmits less vibration though its controls and its extra (ninth) gear helps keeps its engine quieter on motorways. Both cars generate a fair amount of wind noise at speed, although the C-Class Coupe suffers from less road noise.
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