Does my bum look big in this?
As I’m sure I don’t need to point out, there are facelifts and there are, well, facelifts. Not everyone cleaves to the Partonesque ideal – I mean has anybody seen Barry Manilow lately?
But when it comes to the automotive variety, the spectrum is as broad as it’s nuanced. Some serve to revitalise an ageing design, others signpost a fresh styling direction. Some merely act as a dating point to give the sales people something new to sell. The pivot point is simple enough however. Are they any good?
Frankly, today’s example isn’t. The 2001 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sport Coupé was the first compact close-coupled two-door in the marque’s history. Based on the existing W203 C-Class saloon platform, its styling cues also borrowed heavily from its more conventional sibling. It proved a sales success, appealing to the affluent retirees and trophy wives who represent the owner heartland of the Mercedes coupé, currently served by that modishly flash CLA thingie.
The styling was neat, moderately handsome given the marque-specific styling tropes of the time and managed to cleverly hide the bulk of the rear with some clever use of glazing. It was no landmark, but by the turn of the current millennium, nothing emerging under Prof. Peter Pfeiffer’s design leadership really was.
Move forward to 2008 and there is a new generation (W204) C-Class in town. Lacking the funds or indeed the inclination to do much else, Mercedes designers (fairly successfully) grafted the nose of the newer model onto the earlier design. So far, so logical. However, the rear proved beyond their capabilities. Since the W204 saloon’s rear lights were large enough to be visible from the International space station, the CLC (as it was now dubbed) was given a set of its own. The rear now resembled the Cliffs of Moher and was about as craggy.
The CLC continued until 2012, by which time everybody was sorry to see the back of it, but for all the wrong reasons.