DRESSED TO IM­PRESS

Re­freshed C-Class gets thou­sands of un­seen parts

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page - IAIN CURRY

The Mer­cedes-Benz C-Class has been Aus­tralia’s best-sell­ing lux­ury car for more than a decade. In­tent on keep­ing it that way in the face of ev­er­p­re­sent com­pe­ti­tion from the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, Benz has re-worked its golden child with 6500 new or mod­i­fied parts.

“We could sell it as a new C-Class but we’ll call it a mas­sive facelift if you like,” says Mer­cedes-Benz Aus­tralia chief Horst von San­den.

Mas­sive it may be, with more than 50 per cent of the car al­tered, but the bulk of the changes are un­der the skin. Vis­ually this fourth-gen­er­a­tion C-Class, in­tro­duced in 2014, has subtly evolved with new bumpers, grille, lights and al­loys across the range.

There was no need for revo­lu­tion with the C-Class. It looks like a mini S-Class and this aes­thetic has been key to its suc­cess.

The fresh­ened C-Class has ar­rived en masse with all body styles cov­ered. The new sedan, wagon, coupe and con­vert­ible are on sale now with your choice of petrol, diesel (sedan and wagon only) or, from AMG, the C43 bi-turbo V6. The mon­strous C63 S bi-turbo V8 ver­sions land in Jan­uary.

Most in­ter­est­ing are the C200 co­hort. Benz has down­sized the en­gine for its strong-sell­ing en­try-level model from a 2.0-litre turbo four to a com­pletely new 1.5-litre ver­sion with what it calls EQ Boost, a 48V mild hy­brid set-up. Its belt-drive starter/gen­er­a­tor takes care of en­gine start-up, kick­ing in an ex­tra 10kW/160Nm at low revs un­til the turbo comes on boost.

The 1.5-litre’s power out­put, 135kW, matches that of the out­go­ing 2.0 but it pro­duces 20Nm less torque. The mild hy­brid’s help­ing hand means power de­liv­ery is smooth, if a lit­tle un­der­whelm­ing.

In the 0-100km/h sprint, the pre­vi­ous C200 clocked 7.3 sec­onds while the new car takes 7.7. Claimed thirst is 6.4L/100km, down by just 0.1L though cal­cu­lated un­der a more “real-world” econ­omy reg­i­men.

C-Class shop­pers shouldn’t be put off. There are faster pick­ings fur­ther up the range, with the C300’s 2.0-litre turbo (190kW/370Nm) ex­pected to be the Aus­tralian vol­ume seller. In sedan form the C300 is $71,400, a pre­mium of $8000 over the C200.

Those seek­ing value and a more gen­teel C-Class ex­pe­ri­ence shouldn’t look past the C200. What it lacks in urge it makes up for with un­flus­tered and classy pace, con­ceal­ing the en­gine’s ca­pac­ity.

Only when asked to hus­tle does the en­gine sound out of its com­fort zone and run out of urge. Keep things smooth — a com­mon trait among C200 driv­ers — and the nine-speed auto helps de­liver pol­ished progress.

The C200s tested fea­tured op­tional Dy­namic Body Con­trol ($1400), with Com­fort, Sport or Sport+ modes of damp­ing con­trol. The changes in char­ac­ter are marked enough to war­rant the out­lay.

Stay in Com­fort and the bump-ab­sorb­ing vel­vety ride qual­ity is up there with larger Ben­zes. The sportier set­tings tighten things enough to ramp up the en­joy­ment through turns, though the steer­ing doesn’t have much feed­back.

C-Class prices are up $1500 range-wide,

PRICE

En­try up $1500 for all body types, jus­ti­fied by higher spec and mild hy­brid boost for new 1.5-litre.

Stan­dard 12.3-inch dig­i­tal cock­pit and 10.25-inch me­dia dis­play with Ap­ple CarPlay/An­droid Auto, with touch-sen­si­tive swipe con­trols on steer­ing wheel. Ac­tive Park­ing As­sist for par­al­lel or right-an­gle.

On-board 48V gen­er­a­tor, called EQ Boost, kicks in turbo lag-bust­ing 10kW/160Nm at low revs. Time for 0-100km/h rises from 7.3 sec­onds to 7.7 but it’s thriftier, from 6.5L/100km to 6.4L.

On all grades, sus­pen­sion op­tions are Dy­namic Body Con­trol with three-stage ad­justable damp­ing ($1400) or S-Class-style Air Body Con­trol ($2400).

About 6500 new or mod­i­fied parts, with mi­nor changes to the LED head­lights, tail-lights, bumpers and al­loys. In the cabin, cen­tre con­sole has new flow­ing trim and there are 64 am­bi­ent light colours.

TECH­NOL­OGY PER­FOR­MANCE DRIV­ING DE­SIGN

jus­ti­fied by new cabin fea­tures. Stan­dard on all are a cus­tomis­able 12.3-inch dig­i­tal cock­pit plus a 10.25-inch me­dia dis­play, now with Ap­ple CarPlay/An­droid Auto smart­phone mir­ror­ing. There’s no gi­ant dual-screen as in posher Mercs or even the cheaper A-Class.

The in­te­rior re­mains a high point for com­fort and build qual­ity, how­ever. There are the reg­u­la­tion man-made leather trim and new touches such as steer­ing-wheel swipe pads to con­trol the in­fo­tain­ment and the choice of 64 am­bi­ent light colours.

Those find­ing mod­ern ac­tive safety kit too in­tru­sive may ap­pre­ci­ate the C200’s lack of ac­tive lane keep found in other C-Classes. The ab­sence of ac­tive cruise con­trol — even as an op­tion — is a con­ve­nience mark-down for this en­try-level car.

The breadth of the C-Class range means you tai­lor your choice to suit. There’s plenty of theatre to be had in the C-Class range, as il­lus­trated by time at the launch in the AMG C43 — from $107,900 with bi-turbo V6 (287kW/ 520Nm), it re­mains a rel­a­tive bar­gain, made even bet­ter with the higher-tech cabin.

The C43’s mighty power de­liv­ery comes com­plete with in­fec­tious crack­les and pops on gear changes, adding to its ap­peal for those seek­ing a pre­ci­sion per­for­mance tool with­out the $160,000 pric­etag or mad-dog na­ture of the AMG C63 S.

PRES­TIGE

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