The new Mercedes-Benz has a surprise in store, as Edward Stephens discovered.

Three things initially struck me when my Mercedes-Benz 220 Coupé test car was delivered.

The stunning, svelte design, the individually sculptured seats in red leather – and the 612 miles range showing on the onboard computer.

The first two were not totally surprising, but a sporty-looking performance Mercedes with that sort of range I didn’t anticipate.

Perhaps for a smaller-engined car but not a 2.2-litre 170 bhp model.

The range is indicative of the progress Mercedes has made with its diesel engines and this one, like so many others, had an eco mode to ensure it just sipped at the liquid gold in the fuel tank.

Whether in eco mode or not the 220 CDI uses features like stop/start to boost the economy, although when in eco mode it does tend to tone down the responsiveness of the engine.

Switch the eco button off and the 220 feels like it’s been given a second lease of life and its performance is decidedly livelier.

What this feature does mean, however, is that you get the best of both worlds with this car. You have a high-performance car when you want it – with eco mode switched off – but also a car which is cheap to run when performance is not an issue with the eco mode switched on.

The low-slung stance of the coupé and its lack of two rear doors certainly means it’s the best-looking model in the C-Class range.

In the UK the C-Class Coupé comes with the AMG Sports Package as standard, which makes a big difference to the car’s looks.

This package includes features like sports suspension, speed-sensitive sports steering and 18-inch AMG alloys, not to mention the side skirts and front and rear bodykit..

From the driver’s seat the car wraps itself around you and the sculptured rear seats really do hold back seat passengers snugly in place. When you don’t have anyone in the rear the seat backs can be folded down to create more luggage space.

On the road the six-speed manual gearbox is silky smooth and a delight to use. The torquey 2.2-litre engine – particularly in none eco mode – is superbly flexible no matter which gear you are in.

The lowered suspension is firm enough to give great road holding but not so firm as to make passengers uncomfortable.

In fact, a journey to Wales and back in a day with four people in the car brought home to me just how well this car will perform and just how well the seats are designed.

It meant that after a round trip of well over 200 miles we all got out of the car fresh and without any stiffness at all. It’s almost as if this car is made for long-distance work.

And, like every Mercedes I have ever driven, it has a superbly small turning circle, which makes parking a cinch – especially as you have the benefit of a rear view camera to show exactly what’s behind you at all times.

Fast Facts

Mercedes-Benz C220 CDI Blue Efficiency AMG Sport Coupe

Price: £33,080

Mechanical: 170 bhp, 2143cc, 4 cyl diesel engine driving rear wheels via 6 spd manual gearbox

Max speed: 144 mph 0-62 mph: 8.2 seconds

Combined mpg: 55.5

Insurance group: 38

CO2 emissions: 133

Warranty: Three years unlimited mileage