JOIN THE RUL­ING CLASS

Com­fort and style made this pres­tige Benz a best­seller MERCEDES-BENZ C-CLASS 2014-17

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page - IAIN CURRY

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class has been the de­fault mid-size pres­tige choice for years. In­cred­i­bly ver­sa­tile, the cur­rent shape — in­tro­duced in 2014 — comes as a sedan, coupe, cabri­o­let or wagon with petrol, diesel or hy­brid en­gines. It has en­dured as best­seller in its seg­ment thanks to strik­ing good looks, com­fort, build qual­ity, driv­ing dy­nam­ics and econ­omy.

With the ear­li­est ex­am­ples now four years old and out of war­ranty, there are plenty crop­ping up in the clas­si­fieds as own­ers trade up to a newer car.

So is it worth con­sid­er­ing a post-2014 Benz C-Class? The big­gest chunk of de­pre­ci­a­tion has al­ready hap­pened so prices are ap­peal­ing, although own­er­ship costs such as ser­vic­ing and tyres are rel­a­tively ex­pen­sive.

Should oily things, electrics, tech­nol­ogy, light­ing or body pan­els go wrong or suf­fer dam­age out­side Merc’s three-year war­ranty, you can also bank on a hefty bill. Over­all the model has proved re­li­able, as would be ex­pected of such a young Benz.

For this guide we’ll over­look the per­for­mance AMG C43 and C63 ver­sions as they’re for a spe­cific buyer (see prices panel) but that still leaves you with mam­moth choice.

First de­ci­sion is whether you want the all­round­ed­ness of the sedan, the slightly tighter but pret­tier di­men­sions of the coupe, the ope­nair free­dom of the cabrio or the prac­ti­cal­ity of the wagon.

Once you’ve cho­sen, gauge what model year, en­gine choice and spec­i­fi­ca­tion your bud­get cov­ers, ob­vi­ously favour­ing those with some war­ranty re­main­ing for peace of mind.

The sedan launched in Au­gust 2014. En­try lev­els were the C200 petrol and C220 BlueTEC diesel, both with 18-inch al­loys, Ar­tico man­made leather trim, LED head­lights, elec­tric seats and nav­i­ga­tion.

Next were the C250, C 250 BlueTEC diesel and C300 BlueTEC Hy­brid with more pow­er­ful 2.0-litre petrol or 2.1-litre diesel en­gines, the lat­ter with a fuel-sav­ing hy­brid set-up. These fea­tured real leather trim, 19-inch al­loys, key­less en­try and an ac­tive safety pack­age, abet­ted by crack­ing per­for­mance.

In 2017 the C220 diesel (now sim­ply C220d) was given a larger en­gine, the C250 made way for a more pow­er­ful C300 and the Hy­brid turned into the C350e with an elec­tric mo­tor back­ing up the petrol for an in­cred­i­ble 2.4L/100km fuel econ­omy claim, air sus­pen­sion and limo-like pre-en­try cli­mate con­trol.

The prac­ti­cal wag­ons ar­rived later in 2014 (Benz calls them Es­tates), mir­ror­ing their sedan vari­ant specs.

The sexy Coupe landed in April 2016 in three grades. The C200 with 2.0-litre turbo petrol had AMG 18-inch rims, man-made leather, elec­tric seats and nav­i­ga­tion; the C250d diesel had 19-inch AMG wheels, real leather and com­pre­hen­sive ac­tive safety; and the stonk­ing 180kW C300 petrol had 19-inch AMG al­loys, Burmester sur­round sound and a sports ex­haust sys­tem.

Cabrios joined the show in Au­gust 2016 with the pricey and lux­ury-packed C200 and C300. Both had AMG wheels and real leather cab­ins, with kit mir­ror­ing their coupe cousins.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

There have been no ma­jor com­mon faults re­ported at this early stage but it would be pru­dent to favour C-Classes with some war­ranty re­main­ing and with com­plete ser­vice his­tory through a Mercedes-Benz dealer.

Some own­ers have found the C-Class ride quite harsh on its run-flat tyres, not least where the larger 19-inch wheels are fit­ted.

Favour the higher spec cars with air sus­pen­sion if you pre­fer a more cos­set­ing ride and the choice of ad­justable drive modes from Com­fort to Sport Plus.

Air sus­pen­sion is op­tional on some cars, so pri­ori­tise any used ex­am­ples that have it fit­ted make sure it’s work­ing cor­rectly. Tar­get cars where the first owner re­ally splashed out on ad­di­tional good­ies.

The model has been crit­i­cised for chew­ing through tyres, some­times af­ter 20,000km or less. With a new set cost­ing up­wards of $2000, check any you’re con­sid­er­ing has de­cent tread re­main­ing.

Also make sure you can nav­i­gate the of­ten com­plex dash­board and in­fo­tain­ment con­trols. The screen is small by mod­ern stan­dards and, frus­trat­ingly, isn’t a touch­screen.

The C-Class boot may not be as big as you’d ex­pect, es­pe­cially the Coupe and cer­tainly the Cabrio, so en­sure it suits your needs. If not, the wagon’s a pretty thing and worth con­sid­er­ing.

Most own­ers lav­ish praise on C-Class cabin lux­ury and com­fort but some sug­gest it’s hard to get a comfy driv­ing po­si­tion and long jour­neys take their toll. Take a long test drive to check you aren’t af­fected in this way.

With so many vari­ants there have been nu­mer­ous re­calls on the model, none ter­ri­bly se­ri­ous. Check VINs against the list at prod­uct­safety.gov.au

IAIN SAYS

Beau­ti­ful to be­hold and drive, the C-Class is the true Benz ex­pe­ri­ence if you’re pre­pared for higher own­er­ship costs. Diesels and hy­brid ver­sions bring in­cred­i­ble fuel sav­ings but there is no wrong en­gine choice.

Choose the body style to suit your life­style and the spec to suit your bud­get and in­sist on a full ser­vice record.

OWNER SAYS

AN­DREW BINNS: I have a 2015 C250 diesel with AMG Line pack, so it looks su­perb with lower sus­pen­sion and black 19-inch AMG al­loys. Loads of torque from the en­gine so it goes like stink, smooth seven-speed auto and I get a real world 6L/100km gen­er­ally. Com­fort holds up well on long dis­tances with the sports seats, there’s plenty of boot space and seats for four adults. My only crit­i­cisms are the steer­ing is quite light and the tyres were ex­pen­sive to re­place and wore out quickly. Dealer ser­vice was ex­pen­sive so I use a trusted spe­cial­ist now. The only fail­ure has been a park brake com­po­nent, which was cheap to fix. Over­all a fan­tas­tic car that looks more ex­pen­sive than it was. I’d buy an­other.

USED CAR

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