A keeper kicks goal

Herald Sun - Cars Guide - - SHORT CUT - CHRIS RI­LEY CUTS TO THE CHASE

VALUE

The en­try model 220d is well equipped, rid­ing on large, buyer friendly 19-inch wheels. Cabin trim is Benz’s faux leather, with stylish dark grey tim­ber. It has a seven-inch tablet-style dis­play, plus dig­i­tal ra­dio and sat­nav, but Ap­ple CarPlay/Android Auto are yet to be added. Three-year unlimited/kilo­me­tre war­ranty is noth­ing spe­cial while ser­vices cost $2280 for three years.

COM­FORT

Cabin is stylish, roomy and com­fort­able, with plenty of rear legroom and de­cent sized boot with easy ac­cess. Thank­fully the num­ber of but­tons de­mand­ing driver at­ten­tion has been re­duced but you have to come to grips with the cen­tral con­trol mod­ule and its odd touchpad (it’s not a touch­screen). It must all be a bit much for some — given the num­ber of Benz drivers who seem to have trou­ble even hook­ing up their mo­bile.

SAFETY

Scores five stars from AN­CAP with a 95 per cent pro­tec­tion rat­ing for adults and 89 per cent for kid­dies. Comes with nine airbags, blind spot alerts and “Pre-Safe” that pre­pares the cabin if an im­pact is im­mi­nent. It has a 360-de­gree cam­era and pedestrian friendly pop-up bon­net. mean­while, its ver­sion of au­ton­o­mous brak­ing works up to 105km/h.

DRIV­ING

It’s not go­ing to set the world on fire, not at 8.3 sec­onds for the 0-100km/h sprint, though it feels quicker. Am­ple torque makes it a snap to drive. Nine­speed auto cov­ers any even­tu­al­ity but the col­umn-mounted gear se­lec­tor takes some get­ting used to. Rides on steel springs with ad­justable dampers, with all-wheel drive and that cov­eted high driv­ing po­si­tion. The ride, super smooth for the most part, can be choppy on rough roads. Se­lect drive modes for a sporty or more re­laxed throt­tle re­sponse. Run­flats mean there’s no spare, free­ing up boot space.

AL­TER­NA­TIVES BMW X3 2.0 xDrive 20d, from $65,800

Con­tin­ues to im­prove but re­mains in the shadow of the X5. Diesel pro­duces 140kW/400Nm and turns an eight-speed auto, en­abling 0-100km/h time of 8.1 sec­onds. Stop-start keeps thirst down to a claimed 5.2L/100km. Wheels are 18-inch­ers shod with run­flats. Ser­vices cost $1440 over five years/80,000km (con­di­tion based) and war­ranty is three years/unlimited km.

Audi Q5 2.0 TDI Qu­at­tro, from $63,600

An ag­ile ad­ver­sary. We’re not huge fans of the seven-speed twin-clutch gear­box. With 130kW/380Nm it’s the least pow­er­ful of the trio too and takes 9.0 sec­onds from rest to 100km/h. Stop-start as­sists claimed thirst of 6.1L/100km. Space-saver spare. War­ranty is three years/ unlimited km. Ser­vic­ing costs $1870 for 3 years/45,000km.

VER­DICT

Prac­ti­cal, priced at­trac­tively and based on the award win­ning C-Class, this one’s a keeper, es­pe­cially with that three-pointed star em­bla­zoned on the front.

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