If you’re looking for a real luxury car without spending through the stratosphere or without indulging in the excesses of a full-size saloon, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class may well be in contention to grab some of your hard-earned. The mid-sized sedan offering has traditionally been the number one selling luxury car in Australia. Just how much has the latest C-Class improved on the already accomplished and renowned German import? Chris Bowen found out for EFTM.
The 10 Minute Test Drive
The all new C-Class resembles a scale model of the flagship S-Class with plenty of shared design cues, especially the rear tail lights. The striking silhouette blatantly announces to the world that this is something special, it’s just got a vibe about it.
There’s a level of grandeur to the interior that’s very impressive considering this is the entry-level into the Mercedes-Benz range of rear-wheel drive sedans. From a perfectly executed centrally located analogue clock to the optional black ash veneer cladding on the centre console and door trim, every detail is meticulously crafted and sets new standards. There’s not one bit of plastic you could bag in this cabin.
From behind the bulky sports wheel there’s a genuine sense of occasion as you look over a longish bonnet seated in the optional AMG Line sumptuous red leather seats. There’s also a greater sense of space with the new C-Class now 95 millimetres longer and 40 millimetres wider than the outgoing model. In fact it now rivals mid 1990’s E-Class Mercs for size.
The C 250 comes equipped with a more powerful 2.0-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder over the volume seller C 200. It delivers effortless and deceptively powerful acceleration but with strangely almost no hint of an engine or exhaust note.
Steering the now larger C-Class is an inviting experience, decades of finely honed engineering brings with it one of the more engaging drives to be had. It’s not perfect however, larger bumps and ruts will crash into the cabin in a very un-Mercedes way. You can thank the standard 19-inch wheels on the C 250 for that. In terms of the ultimate feedback between the driver and front wheels, I still believe the BMW 3-Series still has their German counterpart pegged, just.
Ins And Outs
Up front sits a 155kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine paired with a standard across the range 7G-tronic seven-speed gearbox. Being a dual-clutch system, shifts are exceptionally quick but with the occasional annoyance of unforseen and unwanted changes and lurches.
The C-Class brings plenty to the table in standard form with power front seats, LED / dusk sensing headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, keyless ignition and a sophisticated infotainment system.
The optional AMG Line package includes a suite of goodies which visually and physically enhance including 19’’ alloy wheels, AMG body styling, lowered sports suspension, better brakes and a host of interior highlights.
The Tech Inside
In terms of technology you’d need as many pages as War and Peace to fully explain the intricacies of what’s on board the new C-Class. But for brevity I can tell you our test car scored the optional COMMAND Online package, AIRMATIC Agility Suspension, Vision Package and AIRBALANCE Package.
COMMAND Online is broadcast via a 21.3cm TFT colour display and can be controlled via a new touchpad with multitouch sensor system. The pad sits over the top of the rotary dial controller. It takes some getting used to but with familiarity you learn the various smartphone inspired shortcuts quickly. For example swiping two fingers up simultaneously will bring up a sub menu showing the current track playing, swiping back and forwards with one finger changes the track. A pinching gesture is used for zooming, a twisting motion rotates the dials that control settings for the 13 speaker Burmester surround sound system.
The Vison Package incorporates a LED Intelligent Light System which automatically adjusts the high beam in a true display of lighting wizardry. A head-up display is projected into your line of sight and can be used to display navigation directions or de-cluttered to simply show the speed.
AIRMATIC uses pneumatic spring struts that can be manually adjusted or left to operate in a continuously variable way. For example the body is sucked closer to the ground at higher speeds for better aerodynamics. You can even raise the car substantially for off-road or snow chain situations. There are five modes to tickle your fancy from comfy to super sporty.
AIR BALANCE pumps clean and even fragranced air into the cabin via a sophisticated system using negative oxygen ions and a charcoal filtering system. In short you’ll never choke on the fumes of that bomb in front of you again.
But the most innovative system on board is the DISTRONIC PLUS with STEER CONTROL, a system that literally takes the effort out of steering. This is far removed from traditional lane assist systems which alert the driver via pulsing vibrations through the steering wheel or chimes. This system gently helps the driver maintain a centre line via cameras and sensors. You can literally feel the steering weight change as the technology adjusts the line for you, all while maintaining a safe gap between you and the vehicle in front. The system of course has its limits and will ultimately remind the human on board that it’s not a completely autonomous system, yet.
The Hip Pocket
Before all on roads our test car kicked off at $68,900. Optional extras included the COMMAND Package ($2,300), AIRMATIC ($1,915), AMG Line ($2,686), Vision Package ($3,453) and AIR BALANCE ($377). Tag on $1,277 for the Luxury Car Tax and you hit $80,908. Fuel economy is rated at 6.0L/100km, I averaged 7.9L/100km – but I would.
EFTM Rubber Stamp
The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class is world class, in every conceivable area. There’s the unseen like the lightest body shell in the segment. But then there’s the more obvious like the game changing driver assist technologies, efficient engines and world-class build and fit out. For this segment and for this price Mercedes-Benz has produced a benchmark vehicle that the others can only copy or attempt to better. I’m left with no other choice then to award The EFTM Distinction Rubber Stamp, it simply leads the way.