Portland is the luxury two-door coupe of American cities, at least in the eyes of Mercedes-Benz.

“It’s cool. It’s fun,” Christian Bokich, a spokesman for the German automaker, said about why the city made the ideal backdrop for the national press launch of its redesigned C-Class coupe, a sporty model that retails for $43,000 and up.

Forty journalists who cover the auto industry for national publications such as Motor Trend and Car and Driver magazines descended on Portland this week to test drive a small fleet of shiny new 2017 Mercedes C300 coupes. The car writers and photographers also enjoyed some of the Portland area’s finer foods and sights as the luxury car maker spared little expense to show off its new wheels.

Two groups of journalists spent three days each in the city. The second group will leave Friday, after a test drive down to Kennebunkport with a stop for lunch at Two Lights Lobster Shack in Cape Elizabeth on the way back.

Members of the media were treated to a welcome dinner at Union restaurant in The Press Hotel, where they stayed. They took 10 cars on a three-hour jaunt to Littleton, New Hampshire, and had lunch at a local brewery before returning. They also enjoyed a catered party on House Island in Casco Bay, where Mercedes had one of its cars brought in by barge to provide some uniquely Maine photo opportunities.

The final day included the trip to Kennebunkport, where the journalists could take more scenic photos of the cars for their publications.

While Mercedes arranged the events and offered to cover expenses, at least some of the journalists volunteered to share the costs, Bokich said.

The journalists, often competitors, paired up to test drive the cars. The vehicles were a sight to behold in the city this week, shined up and lined up alongside The Press Hotel.

Mercedes clearly wanted to make a good first impression for its new cars.

Perry Stern, editor-in-chief of Automotive Content Experience, a website that reviews automobiles and covers the auto industry, takes photos of the interior of a Mercedes C300 coupe on Market Street in Portland on Thursday.

Perry Stern, editor-in-chief of Automotive Content Experience, a website that reviews automobiles and covers the auto industry, takes photos of the interior of a Mercedes C300 coupe on Market Street in Portland on Thursday. Photos by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

After the first group of journalists left, the vehicles got midweek tuneups at Prime Motor Cars in Scarborough, the nearest Mercedes dealership. The company brought in a team of technicians to do the work, but it was exciting for the local dealership to be part of it.

“We get to see the product early, get some feedback from the engineers that are here,” said General Manager Dan Doucette.

While waiting for their 2010 C-Class sedan to get serviced, father and son Fabio and Mike Cipolla admired one of the test cars parked in the dealership’s lot.

“I don’t think you could get a better daily driver” for the price, said 21-year-old Mike Cipolla, a car enthusiast.

“The color’s amazing,” his father said about the metallic blue that’s available on the 2017 model for the first time. Among other changes, it now has a seatbelt that moves forward toward the shoulder when the door closes, making it easier to reach.

Fully redesigned for the first time since 2011, the new generation of the sporty coupe is a little longer, a little wider and all around more refined than previous versions of the car, Bokich said. With a new suspension and engine, it has more precise steering, braking and handling.

Mercedes C300 coupes line Market Street outside The Press Hotel on Thursday.

Mercedes C300 coupes line Market Street outside The Press Hotel on Thursday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Access to winding roads that show off those features was one of the reasons for choosing Portland, he said. The Press Hotel was another.

Bokich said the hotel reflects the new definition of luxury, which has moved away from gaudy gold leaf and gotten smarter and sleeker. It’s also somewhere the writers probably haven’t visited.

“It’s modern. It’s special,” he said.

Michael McKibben, a social media and marketing manager for U.S. News & World Report who is based in Washington, D.C., said visiting a city he’d never been to before was a selling point of the trip. “It brings a little more excitement,” he said.

And McKibben was pleasantly surprised to encounter Portland’s renowned restaurant scene.

“I’ve had some amazing coffee and food here,” he said, just before leaving Wednesday.

Mercedes and other car makers choose appealing destinations for such launches, in part to get as much participation as possible.

They also choose locations that reflect the car, Bokich said.

A luxury resort amid canyons in Colorado is where Mercedes recently launched its latest SUV, and its new high-tech E-Class model will be critiqued in Silicon Valley next month.

Portland may have more Subarus than Mercedes coupes on the roads, but the company says it liked the city’s fun and hip appeal. The C-Class also is pretty down-to-earth for Mercedes. Starting at $43,000, the two-door coupe is one of the company’s less-expensive models.

“We think Portland, Maine, is an extremely authentic city, and we think we’re an authentic brand,” Bokich said.

Having photogenic backdrops for car photos is also a plus, he said. The fact that potential Mercedes buyers from Boston and New York might come up for a weekend trip also makes it a good backdrop for the pictures that will end up on the websites and in the magazines that review it.

And, Bokich admitted, it had to do with the timing as well.

“We wouldn’t be here in January,” he said.