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Cars often remind me of movie sets. Everything is for show upfront; there can often be little or nothing behind the façade. Indeed, if I had a euro for all the times I’ve enthused about the front look of a new car only to be crestfallen when I viewed it from behind, I’d be able to enjoy a lengthy holiday in the sun and have change left over.

I know there are all sorts of engineering, design-cost and safety reasons for dull rears, but how come some get it so right?

And when they do get a smart ass (in the nicest sense of the word), it can make such a difference.

I’m sure Mercedes wouldn’t like me calling their recently revised C-Class Coupé such a naughty name but I have, in its previous incarnation, suggested it might attain “rear of the year” status. It didn’t. Not everyone liked/likes it as much as I did/do.

I’ve just been driving the new version of the coupé under a variety of conditions (including a quick turn on a gravel beach, would you believe, in the month of November?) and I’m glad to say they haven’t pinched on any of the derrière.

With a lovely front (the grille is outstanding) and a rear to back it up, I think this is one of the nicest-looking small coupés out there.

I wouldn’t be as delighted with other aspects, not least the sound of the petrol engine/exhaust especially when I started it. I don’t know why the 1.5-litre felt it needed to cause a bit of a fuss.

Or are they trying to make it sound a bit like a real AMG powerhouse? If they are, I don’t think it works. This is a 1.5-litre, and powerful at 184bhp, but I’d prefer it quieter. I pushed it (in Sport+ mode) but the note wasn’t sporty as such – a bit ‘forced’ I felt. It was much quieter at cruising medium revs.

It was made to be driven as well as looked at, which is why I’m dwelling on that area a bit.

The drive was sprightly enough. It had a nice bit of poke but nothing to inflame the spirits. I’m not complaining; that’s what you get and maybe that’s how it should be. There are others for ‘performance’. But I still would have liked a bit more edge; just something to have a little bit of fun with.

Don’t mind the AMG-Line stuff, by the way; that’s largely decorative, though I have to say the sports suspension kept a taut rein; it is a nicely-tuned chassis.

There was a lot of important stuff going on elsewhere, too. For starters, there is a mild hybrid boost (for the engine). The belt-driven starter/generator recuperates energy when braking. And a powerful 48v electric system transfers lots of energy – they say. They also claim the petrol particulate filter reduces minute soot particles and goes way beyond current stringent limits. Emissions, however, do run to 148g/100km. It’s only right that the car is not all about good looks; there’s a big spread of technology behind it all.

It’s a tidy little motor, obviously; just the two doors and a cabin of some taste and luxury. The brown leather upholstery was a matter of dispute with some passengers. I liked it a lot.

The material on the lower/front section of the dash and around the central console didn’t meet with one passenger’s approval. He thought that, compared with the surrounding opulence, it looked a bit cheap. He had a point, I think, though Mercedes would argue it is smart/modern decor.

I initially dismissed the two rear seats as suitable for tots only. We used one (child seat and all) for someone who isn’t even a tiny tot yet; the other for a tall lady. Yes, she was cramped, but survived a good few drives.

The boot surprised. It took a folded large buggy as well as quantities of accoutrements. It’s not an ultra-practical car, of course, but the space was usable and far more copious than first appeared. There should be room for two golf bags.

Just watch the extras, though. They fairly scaled the heights on my test car. I think €60k+ is way over the top for a car of this size and performance.

That, and the engine/exhaust sound (a subjective thing with me, I agree), would be my two main items to look out for.

Other than that there is a lot of substance to go with the style. Call it ‘beauty’ if you will, but it’s more than skin deep.

And one last time to bring up that rear – I still think it’s wonderful.

Facts & Figures

Mercedes C200 Coupé AMG-Line

1,497cc petrol, 184bhp, 0-100kmh 7.9 secs; 6.1/6.5l/100km, €390 tax.

Spec included: AMG bodystyling, etc, Artico brown leather, ‘diamond’ grille, heated front seats, reversing camera, sports suspension, Sports direct-steer. Extras included: 19ins AMG alloys, parking/mirror package/MB Nav, 10.25ins display.

Price: €48,170. With extras: €61,304.

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