The C-Class up­date adds techno-tricks yet sticks with what Benz does best

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page - BILL McKIN­NON

Amate of mine, Mick, went to Eng­land a cou­ple of years ago and asked me to look af­ter his 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, a C250 CDI 2.1-litre turbo diesel. That’s the series su­per­seded in 2014. Even though it was four years old with about 45,000km on the clock, Mick’s C250 was one of the three or four best cars I drove in 2016. It’s still one of the best cars I’ve driven.

Its suc­ces­sor is a good thing, too, win­ning our Car of the Year and World Car of the Year gongs in 2014. The first up­date has ar­rived, with al­most 50 per cent of com­po­nents, in­clud­ing sev­eral en­gines, ei­ther new or mod­i­fied — so it could ac­cu­rately be de­scribed as a new model.

VALUE

We’re test­ing the base C200, priced at $63,400. Its com­pletely new 1.5-litre four-cylin­der turbo en­gine pro­duces the same 135kW of power as the 2.0-litre turbo it re­places (but at higher revs) and 20Nm less torque (now 280Nm), also pro­duced over a con­sid­er­ably nar­rower, higher rev range.

The up­date has also gained 40kg, largely due to its new EQ Boost mild hy­brid set-up.

As a con­se­quence, it’s half a sec­ond slower from rest to 100km/h, tak­ing 7.7 sec­onds for the trip. Fuel ef­fi­ciency and low emis­sions are pri­or­i­ties now, so per­for­mance has suf­fered.

EQ Boost uses a 48V net­work, pow­ered by a lithium-ion bat­tery. A starter mo­tor-al­ter­na­tor as­sem­bly sits be­tween the en­gine and the stan­dard nine-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

When you put your foot down, the al­ter­na­tor gets a surge of elec­tric­ity from the bat­tery that as­sists en­gine per­for­mance, by up to 10kW, and re­duces turbo lag.

It’s au­to­mat­i­cally recharged by re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing, con­trib­utes to smoother, quicker au­to­matic stop-start in traf­fic and de­cou­ples the en­gine at high­way speeds, al­low­ing the C200 to coast on a light or trail­ing throt­tle with the en­gine switched off. Pointy end tech­nol­ogy ex­tends to the cabin, where an all-dig­i­tal dash in­cludes con­fig­urable in­stru­ments and a big in­fo­tain­ment screen, with ges­ture con­trol via touch­pads on the steer­ing wheel and cen­tre con­sole, plus a man­ual con­troller.

Nav­i­ga­tion, dig­i­tal ra­dio and Ap­ple CarPlay/ An­droid Auto are in­cluded but the slick Siri- style MBUX voice con­trol in the new A-Class is miss­ing. That’s prob­a­bly be­cause C-Class buy­ers are much older…

The Mercedes fake cow up­hol­stery ac­tu­ally feels more luxe and leath­ery than the real hide used in some other brands. Dual-zone air­con, au­to­matic park­ing, LED head­lights and 18-inch al­loys are also stan­dard.

ROAD TEST

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