The Car Connection’s Best Coupe To Buy 2021 can also be had as a sedan or convertible, but for our money, the 2021 Mercedes C-Class ranks the highest as a coupe and still falls under our $50,000 price cap to qualify for the award. Barely. With a punchy turbo-4 and German engineering matched only by German technology, the gorgeous C-Class coupe is a big departure from last year’s winner, the 2020 Honda Civic coupe, which has been discontinued for 2021. The 2021 C-Class Coupe rates a 7.2 out of 10 on our scale, compared to the Civic’s 6.5 rating.
That high rating stems largely from its flowing silhouette and loaded lists of standard safety and convenience features, though its performance has narrowed the gap with the BMW 4-Series. Up front, a diamond-weave grille split by twin blades reflects the aeronautical themes that carry over to the inside where three turbine-styled vents split the layered, textured dash between a 12.3-inch touchscreen and a thin band of controls.
Another 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster that can be configured in myriad ways joins the standard feature set. Synthetic leather seats drape base models, but a variety of leather and metallic or wood trim pieces enable all the customization money can buy. Heated power front seats, a sunroof, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility come standard, along with automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitors. The C-Class earns top safety marks from federal and independent crash-test agencies, and a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty adds a sense of financial security.
The base C300 Coupe starts at about $48,500, just under our threshold, and can easily be optioned beyond it with items ranging from an illuminated tri-star logo on the grille to red nappa leather with memory seats inside. The 255-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4 pairs with a smart and smooth 9-speed automatic and standard rear-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive nudges the price over $50,000. The pert turbo-4 hustles the C-Class to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, and road-hugging handling makes the C-Class a good car for a long drive on tight twisties. For more speed, Mercedes offers two AMG variants with more power, but they take us well outside our price ballpark.
Rear-seat passengers shouldn’t be taken to the ballpark or anywhere, really. The C-Class coupe can theoretically fit four people, but at least two sets of legs will suffer. That arcing roofline can knock noggins getting in or out, and the 10.6 cubic feet of trunk space further limits the coupe’s practicality. That’s the tradeoff for the sleek design, and is characteristic of almost all coupes. Fortunately, Mercedes swaddles front-seat passengers in comfort and refinement in a ride that looks as good as it handles.
Even though it barely made the cut to be considered, the C-Class coupe beats the handful of other qualifying coupes, including as the Audi A5 and BMW 4-Series to earn our Best Coupe To Buy 2021.