New C-Class looks great, rides calmly over most surfaces, handles well and boasts the usual Mercedes-quality cabin.
Mercedes-Benz sedans and coupes and, unlike some BMW's and Audi's, they've retained an old-world class and don't all scream excessive consumption with matte paint and red brake-caliper options. Don't get me wrong, they are still cars of gilded privilege, but they offer their effortless power and sumptuous comfort with a touch of class.
The barge-like E-Class models Mercedes knocked out during its ill-fated collaboration with Chrysler in the late 1990's but something odd has happened with the firm's latest entry-level C-Class. Mercedes has caught the engine-downsizing bug and gone and replaced the old model's 1.8-liter petrol engine with a tiny 1.6-liter unit.
To join the club of German luxury-car producers you need to combine power and comfort in the perfect blend and, on the face of it, Mercedes has ditched the former in the newly refreshed C-Class. Isn't the whole point of a Mercedes or BMW being that you should be able to waft around in comfort and style but occasionally hoof the throttle to overtake with ease? Cue outrage from petrol heads and torque-loving drivers.
First the good news, though. The sedan and coupe (the model I tested) look great, ride calmly over most surfaces, handle well and boast the usual Mercedes-quality cabin. The C-Class isn't, as some people say, the poor man's Mercedes (not many poor men can afford R404 500 for a small family car). Plus its smaller engine, low-resistance tyres and start-stop technology bring CO2 emissions down 20 percent from the previous 1.8-liter model.
It's a pseudo-green Mercedes, then, set to challenge BMW's Efficient Dynamics brand. Thankfully, though, its designers haven't mucked it up with silly luminous dials or baffling eco-displays so common in many ‘green’ models.So we can tick the class and comfort boxes in our luxury-car checklist, then, and for a reduced dollop of environmental guilt, but what about power? Despite its smaller engine it keeps the same power-output figure (115 kW), but it's not rapid and the 1.6-liter supercharged lump needs a decent number of revs to make progress fast.
Price: R404 500.
Engine capacity: 1595 cc.
Power output: 115 kw @ 5000 rpm.
Top speed: 222 km/h.
0-100 km/h: 8.5 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 6.3 liters per 100 km.
CO2 emissions: 147 g/km.
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