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Greatly enhanced



December 4, 2018 – Published in Design & Decor Winter 2018 issue

Greatly enhanced

Words Malcolm J. Naudi

At the beginning of the summer, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the latest facelift of its best-selling C-Class range – not one but four models: the four-door saloon, a sporty two-door coupé, a two-door cabriolet and an estate. In 2017, its fourth years of sales of the outgoing model range, no fewer than 415,000 C-Class saloons and estates were sold worldwide.

I had the privilege to drive a white coupé C 220 d, which had just arrived at local agents Auto Sales Ltd in Lija, on a bright but cloudy autumn day. My test route took this torquey, eye-catching Mercedes over some 90 km across the eastern and southern parts of the island and the frugal diesel engine meant the electronic fuel gauge barely moved.

As with many luxury brands nowadays, the nomenclature does not reflect the engine size, so a 220 does not mean you have a 2.2-litre beneath your front bonnet. It is more a reflection of the power output in relation to the other engine variants available.

So, the C 160 produces 125 bhp and 210 Nm of torque (pulling power); the C 180 150 bhp and 250 Nm; the C 180 d 122 bhp and 300 Nm; and the C 200 d 160 bhp (with six-speed manual transmission) and 150 bhp with the automatic gearbox, with both these last two versions producing 360 Nm. Incidentally, these last two diesel versions are powered by a 1.6-litre engine (making them also tax efficient) that was introduced for the first time in any Mercedes-Benz model worldwide.

A new generation of four-cylinder petrol engines was launched, along with the additional electric power of a 48-volt system with a belt-driven starter/alternator. On the C 200 engines this adds an additional 14 bhp and an impressive 160 Nm to the already generous 184 bhp and 280 Nm produced by the 1.5-litre petrol engine. During braking, kinetic energy is recuperated to charge the battery and there is an overall contribution to better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions.

The model on test was powered by a 2.0-litre diesel that is 16 per cent lighter than the previous version, yet has a power output of 194 bhp (+24 bhp on the previous engine). More importantly from a local perspective is the 400 Nm of torque, which means quick get-aways from the lights. It still delivers a combined consumption of 5.1-4-8 litres/100 km and combined CO2 emissions of 136-126 g/km.

In terms of design, the exterior looks more sporty with the Coupé having the new LED high performance headlamps featuring a particularly striking interior design as standard. The front grill is dominated by the three-pointed star and the rear boot lid is moulded to deflect air and promote greater grip at higher speeds.

Inside, the driving experience is enhanced through greater comfort and a greater onset of electronics both in terms of infotainment but also general safety. As I said in my test report for the A-Class, which I drove earlier this year, you do feel as if you are in a safety bubble, so if you approach the vehicle in front of you too fast, Active Distance Assist will immediately step in to warn you with a red light and in an instant an audio warning unless you slow down. This is coupled with Active Steering Assist to provide even more comfortable support in steering and keeping a safe distance.

The car’s speed is now adjusted automatically ahead of bends, junctions or roundabouts. Also on board are Active Emergency Stop Assist and intuitively understandable Active Lane Change Assist to complete the full safety arsenal that envelops you.

What I did like was the detail that the passenger door mirror will automatically tilt lower to enable you to see the pavement as soon as you engage reverse gear (and prepare to park). With the optional rear driving camera, you also see the camera ‘pop out’ if you are outside the car as soon as you go into reverse gear.

In terms of suspension, there is a choice of the new Dynamic Body Control, including damping characteristics adjustable in three stages, the Sports Direct-Steer system or Air Body Control suspension.

Standard equipment on all C-Class models includes the latest electronic architecture, active brake assist (ABA), windscreen wipers with rain sensors, 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox, cruise control, and the mirror package (described above – the mirrors automatically fold when the engine is off).

The features of the model on test also included black Artico leather seats, a panoramic sliding sunroof, the Touchpad to access the infotainment system via the screen in the central console, ambient lighting, the AMG Line exterior trim and the parking package with a rear camera located behind the three-pointed star on the rear boot lid. This takes the showroom price up from the entry level’s €50,400 to €57,800.

I am old enough to remember a time when the C-Class was the entry level model to the Mercedes-Benz car range. What a lot has changed in the past quarter of a century or so. Since this is a model facelift, the underpinnings of the various versions remain basically the same.

Yet there has been a noticeable step change in quality and the choice in terms of colours, different wheel trims and options. Auto Sales make it easier by putting together a number of different packages, yet individualisation is infinite along with the expectation on the quality that comes with the three-pointed star.

I am just in time to report that Mercedes-Benz have secured a fourth drivers’ championship in Formula 1 with Lewis Hamilton (his fifth) and for them also a fifth title in a row, since they also won in 2016 with Nico Rosberg. This is a huge achievement, given the competition from Ferrari and Red Bull this year, auguring well for an interesting championship next year. The constructors’ title is still not wrapped up but looks almost secure since Mercedes had a 55-point lead on Ferrari with two races to go.

With all the investment that Mercedes commit to F1, I have no doubt that some of it eventually finds its way into the road cars we see locally.

Visit the Auto Sales showroom in Lija to book a test drive, or book online by visiting:

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