A keeper kicks goal
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.