Introduced in Europe in October 2000, Mercedes-Benz's C-Class SportCoupé (codenamed CL203) was a three-door hatchback coupe with a fastback profile, based on the regular W203 C-Class range. It featured a star-grille front end instead of the classic Mercedes horizontal bar grille with the hood ornament, as well as a fastback roofline and functional rear spoiler. With a panoramic sunroof, the coupe was seven inches shorter than the sedan, but sat on the same wheelbase.
Available engines initially included the C 180 (139 PS), C 220 (143 PS), and the C 200 and C 230 Kompressors. Subsequently, the C 180 Kompressor, C 200 CGI, and C 160 Kompressor were added. The C 230 SportCoupé was powered by a 2.3L supercharged four-cylinder, producing 143 kW (192 hp) and 200 lb-ft of torque, though the engine was quite loud and coarse at the high end.
The hatchback configuration led some to believe this "inexpensive Mercedes" would undermine the marque which usually included more expensive cars. Common luxuries such as leather seating and a CD player were not standard features in the C 230 base model. Priced lower than existing models in North America, the C 230 Sport Coupe and C 320 Sport Coupe became the two most affordable models in the C-Class lineup.
Mercedes found that 40% of newcomers to the marque were buying Sportcoupé models, who often went on to buy more expensive models in subsequent purchases.
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