Mercedes-Benz C-Class delivers luxury with a hint of grandeur.
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It’s a great time to be in the market for a luxury car. Put it down to post-GFC prosperity, modern design efficiencies or the emergence of new markets (thanks China) but never has a buyer been able to get as much bang for their buck as they can today. Front and center of the under $80 000 segment is the all new Mercedes-Benz C-Class, a car that proves that the trickle down theory does actually work — at least in automotive terms. The car has inherited many of Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class refinements and features but at a more affordable price-point.
Among the many awards the new C-Class vehicles have won the most prestigious was picking up World Car of the Year 2015 at the New York International Auto Show. And its reputation precedes it with the C-Class becoming Mercedes’ NZ’s top selling car in its segment. Not to mention the car was Driven's medium to large Car of the Year.
Released last year at the Detroit Motor Show, the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class was quickly embraced by both motoring writers and the motoring public. And while you’ll be seeing a few of these in the executive parking spaces around town, this is a car that will equally appeal to families and those looking for a touch of luxury in their day-to-day motoring — Mercedes liken the new style and comfort features on board to getting an upgrade from economy to business class.
Inside the cabin the first thing you notice is the amount of head and leg room available both front and back - plenty of room for kid’s bags and anything else. There’re handy and spacious compartments in the center console and in the doors for drink bottles, discs and tablets (the car is of course Bluetooth compatible for devices which can charge while you’re on the road thanks to two USB inputs).
The leather seats are all electronically adjustable, and visibility for both driver and passengers is excellent. All up the interior architecture radiates a sense of unfussy luxury — buttons are all one-touch, with the five air vents lending the instrument panel a sporty touch.
Outwardly this is an altogether sleeker, more dynamic car than previous C-Class models. A chassis redesign means it sits lower to the ground and it shed 100 kg in weight. The end effect is not only a more efficient vehicle aerodynamically — it’s sharper looking too — with just a hint of E-Class grandeur about it.
Despite it being slightly longer and wider than previous C-Class models driving-wise this is a more responsive car, especially in sporty mode (there are five driving programmes available accessible from a control on the centre console).
When out on the open road it radiates confidence, sticking to the road like it’s on a rail. It’s a real star in the passing lane too, acceleration is almost instantaneous, the ride smooth and, most impressively, very quiet. The driver gets a heads-up “in windscreen” speed and navigation display, while the centrally positioned central display gives access to all the navigation and media options and an innovative touchpad on the center consoles functions like a smartphone touchscreen, and also supports longhand.
Smart and safe
But that driveability and power isn’t at the expense of safety — high strength steel surrounds the passenger doors and there are nine airbags installed.
Mercedes-Benz have dubbed the new C-Class “the intelligent car” and much of that intelligence revolves around safety, and while it can’t make rush-hour traffic run any faster its attention assist feature can alert you if you dose off in gridlock, while its brake assist feature ensures low speed collisions are a thing of the past.
Alternatively at highway speeds the adaptive cruise control function enables you to set a speed and maintain that at a safe distance behind the car in front, even as it slows. Indeed this car’s so smart the front passenger seat possesses a sensor which disengages the front passenger airbag once it detects a child seat is in place.
If you’re in the market for a medium-size luxury car the C-Class should be high on your driving list. It delivers comfort, safety and efficiency — and no small amount of style.
Mercedes-Benz C 250 Sedan
+ 1991cc, 4-cylinder, 155kW, 350Nm
+ Direct-injection, turbocharged
+ 7G-TRONIC plus
+ Eco start/stop
+ Rear wheel drive
Fuel data: 6.0L/ 100km
+ The entry level price for the C 200 is $71,900 (Manufacturer's Recommended Retail Price).