Scott Madeleine is a 25-year-old teacher
who lives in the Detroit, Michigan area. When he saw the 2002 Mercedes-Benz
C230 sports coupe, he said, "I wish I had known Mercedes made a car
like this before I bought my (GMC) Jimmy."
Quite a statement from a young man
in SUV-happy America.
Anita and Paul Leinert quoted Scott's
reaction was in their weekly "He Drove, She Drove," column that appears
in the online edition of the Detroit News.* The Leinerts, although closer in age to me than to Mr. Madeleine, were
also impressed and gave the C230 their "world-class" rating. Anita Leinert
noted the C230 would probably bring a whole new audience into Mercedes
showrooms. Of course, that's the idea.
Younger and first-time buyers are
a big part of the target audience for this small Mercedes with a base
price under $25,000. In addition to being the least expensive, the C230
is the smallest Mercedes car sold in the United States, and is only
about 2½ feet longer than the standard A-Class, the smallest Mercedes-badged
product. The C230 will compete with new products from BMW, but more
importantly, DaimlerChrysler believes it will get younger buyers into
Mercedes products as they begin their careers. In this way, the company
hopes to build a fresh base of customers loyal to the three-pointed
While the bobtailed, forward-slanted
styling has been controversial, there's no question the car has the
performance desired by younger drivers. In European trim, the C230 Kompressor
hits 60 mph in just over seven seconds and tops out around 148. Not
bad numbers for a 2.3-liter inline 4-cylinder engine. The 16-valve,
supercharged powerplant puts out 192 bhp and 200 lb-ft of torque between
2500 and 4800 rpm.
Herpa released their model of the
C230 sports coupe in June of this year. Herpa actually refers to the
new models as C-Class Sports Coupes, since several versions are available.
However, the U.S. gets only a single version, the C230K, so I will refer
to the new model by the shorter term.
Although Herpa's quality has been
uneven on some of their new products lately (especially in regards to
other versions of the C-Class line) the Sports Coupe has all the features
Herpa includes on its best models. The C230's signature glass roof is
nicely reproduced and Herpa has taken none of the detail shortcuts that
have marred some of their recent Mercedes models. The tooling is sharp
and the finish on my metallic green model was very nice. The colors
used in the Herpa production look to be close to the prototype colors
offered by Mercedes-Benz. Incidentally, only four exterior colors are
offered for the C230K. Officially, they are Citron Green, Paprika, Orion
Blue and Brilliant Silver. Herpa can finish out the palette in the next
As you would expect from one of the
German modelmakers, the overall dimensions of the model scale out very
well with the measurements found on Mercedes' German web site. The American
version of the C-Class Sports Coupe is very slightly (3 mm) longer.
Herpa seems to have learned the same
trick that Busch first displayed on their model of the C-Class sedan
last year. Headlights are done in such a fashion as to give them the
appearance of the real thing, with a mirror-coated back. It's a nice
effect and enhances the model's realism.
Overall, the new C-Class Sports Coupe
models are well made and showcase Herpa's abilities in a reasonably
priced model that will be a worthwhile addition to any modern passenger
car collection or modern-era model railroad layout. Frankly, I liked
it so much I bought one for my own collection.
Model 023009 - Mercedes-Benz
C230 Sports Coupe, red standard finish. Suggested Retail $8.95
Model 033008 - Mercedes-Benz
C230 Sports Coupe, green metallic finish. Suggested Retail $9.95
here for an Adobe Acrobat version
Herpa Miniaturmodelle GmbH
D-90599 Dietenhofen Germany
Promotex Online/Precision Design Co.
Altona, Manitoba R0G 0B0
* Detroit News Online Edition Autos Weekly for October
17-24, 2001. Copyright © 2001 The Detroit News.