Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Driveway - Bill Buys

IT'S to­tally redesigned, a bit longer, wider and lower than last year's model, has new styling, more space, and a whole lot of good things un­der its sleek body.

The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan is much like the Mercedes For­mula One cars; ahead of the pack.

The fifth gen­er­a­tion of Aus­tralia's top lux­ury brand is keenly priced too, start­ing from $60,900 for the C200 and top­ping out at $74,990 for the C300 hy­brid.

And, due to their fru­gal fuel needs, the CClass mod­els es­cape the dreaded lux­ury car tax.

We had the $70,400 C250 Bluetec Diesel, likely to be the most popular of the five­model range, be­cause of its fine blend of stan­dard fea­tures, per­for­mance and econ­omy.

It runs on 19-inch al­loy wheels with fat lo-pro tyres, and uses a 2.2litre turbo-diesel that gen­er­ates 155kW and a mas­sive 500Nm.

The lat­ter gives it the ac­cel­er­a­tion equal to that of the C250 petrol at 6.6sec­onds to 100km/h, but uses some­what less fuel. Try 4.5litres/100km. That's about 63mpg in the old money, what one might ex­pect from a scooter.

Econ­omy apart, the South African-built luxmobile is a work of art inside and out.

Get be­hind the wheel of the sun-roofed, leather-in­te­ri­ored car and the con­trols ini­tially ap­pear a bit be­wil­der­ing. The gear lever, for in­stance, is a lit­tle stalk to the right of the wheel. Up for re­verse, down for drive, press the but­ton for park.

It has a prox­im­ity key, but­ton start, and the park­ing brake is a but­ton. Lift that, se­lect your gear and off you go.

There's a heads-up speedo and a top re- vers­ing cam­era as well.

The trans­mis­sion is a smooth sev­en­speeder; for ride qual­ity and con­trol re­sponse, you can se­lect be­tween com­fort, eco, sport, sport and in­di­vid­ual modes, and the dash in­cludes the lat­est ver­sion of Merc's Co­mand in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. You se­lect what you want via a ro­tary dial and touch in­ter­face.

A Blue­tooth-ca­pa­ble mo­bile phone with data op­tion is all it takes to make the audio sys­tem in­ter­net-ca­pa­ble. On the move, apps such as Weather, Google Lo­cal Search, Des­ti­na­tion/Route Down­load and Face­book can be used.

The el­e­gant five-seater now has more front shoul­der room, front-seat height adjustment and more rear legroom than its pre­de­ces­sor.

De­cent boot too, that shuts via a touch of a but­ton.

It drives well, with more per­for­mance than you'd ever need, plus ex­cep­tion­ally re­spon­sive steer­ing, which can be tai­lored via mode se­lec­tion, sports-tuned han­dling and great stop­ping power.

Safety fea­tures abound. It has a su­per­strong light­weight rigid body and a plethora of elec­tronic aids, in­clud­ing au­ton­o­mous brak­ing and col­li­sion preven­tion as­sist, pedes­trian recog­ni­tion, cross-traf­fic as­sist and sev­eral more.

Ver­dict: Fault­less qual­ity, class, safety, com­fort, per­for­mance, econ­omy and want­ing for noth­ing. What's not to love?

The new Mercedes-Benz C250 is king of the lux­ury com­pacts.

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