Dis­creet makeover for lo­cal hero

Business Day - Motor News - - FRONT PAGE -

Evo­lu­tion is some­thing that is a con­stant, a pro­gres­sive phe­nom­e­non which is as nec­es­sary as it might sound su­per­flu­ous. The au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try re­mains a prime ex­am­ple of evo­lu­tion — where many cars go through what is deemed a midlife update — in which the model goes through a phase of en­hanc­ing what was al­ready good with the prod­uct and iron­ing out any bug­bears that could have been there.

As a re­sult, you can rest as­sured that buy­ing an up­dated vari­ant of any ve­hi­cle gives you the best ver­sion of that model.

Mer­cedes-Benz has done just that with its peren­nial CClass, the sta­ple of the brand and a bas­tion of the lo­cal pro­duc­tion plant in East Lon­don, which has been churn­ing out the model for a num­ber of years.

Meet the evolved ver­sion of the 2015 model and, while it might not seem ob­vi­ous, there are a few cos­metic up­dates done on the out­side.

For starters, the head­light in­nards now fea­ture LED tech­nol­ogy across the range, while the rear lights also re­ceive the tech­nol­ogy to cre­ate a more vivid and dis­tinct road pres­ence.

Mean­while, the AMG Line pack­age now fea­tures a di­a­mond-like grille, a more ag­gres­sive lower valance and 18-inch wheels lifted whole­sale from the pre-facelift AMG C43 model.

The cabin has pretty much been left un­al­tered, save for the new and larger in­fo­tain­ment screen and the op­tional dig­i­tal in­stru­ment clus­ter sim­i­lar to that em­ployed in the S-Class.

To be frank, there was lit­tle wrong with the cabin’s ar­chi­tec­ture as it re­mains one of the best in the class, even beat­ing the Audi A4 to some de­gree.

As was the case when the model was launched three years ago, the C-Class still comes with a wide range of de­riv­a­tives span­ning from the C180 right up to the foam-at-mouth AMG C63 vari­ants; the lat­ter you will have read about in a pre­vi­ous is­sue of Mo­tor News.

At the Gaut­eng launch of the evolved C-Class, we man­aged to spend some time in the C200 and AMG C43 vari­ants and it is the lat­ter that I will spend time on as it has the most up­dates — in­clud­ing ex­tra poke from its 3.0l twin-turbo V6 power plant, which now kicks out 287kW (a 17kW in­crease from the pre­vi­ous model) and 520Nm through a nine-speed au­to­matic gear­box. The up­dated model also fea­tures a new grille sim­i­lar to that of the AMG C63 with the twin-blade hor­i­zon­tal slats, while new 19-inch al­loys have also been in­tro­duced.

At the rear, the model can now be dis­tin­guished by a quad ex­haust sys­tem, which looks slightly af­ter­mar­ket, but nonethe­less gives the model an even more dis­tinct look.

Driv­ing the model on some vary­ing Gaut­eng roads, the AMG C43 is per­haps all the power you need for most peo­ple as it is de­cid­edly quick and the all­wheel drive means you can take even more lib­er­ties with the throt­tle with­out fear­ing be­ing jet­ti­soned into the hedgerow rear first. Power de­liv­ery is strong, in­ci­sive and ef­fec­tive at clear­ing slower mov­ing traf­fic.

Then there is the glo­ri­ous bark of the thing that makes you fall in love with the V6 en­gine lay­out. It is a dis­tinct, fruity sound that is punc­tu­ated by belches between gear changes.

Ride qual­ity was par­tic­u­larly good as the model is firm for the most part, but not once did it feel as though it was about to rat­tle loose any tooth fill­ings.

It re­mains a steady thing at speed, too, al­though for the true en­thu­si­ast the ve­hi­cle can quickly feel al­most an­o­dyne as it man­ages to go about its thing with lit­tle drama and in an al­most non­cha­lant man­ner.

The blud­geon­ing, full-fat AMG C63 will soon join the lineup lo­cally and, much like the rest of the range, it will also be built at


the firm’s East Lon­don plant, which has just re­ceived a fur­ther in­vest­ment of R10bn.

This bodes well for the com­pany’s com­mit­ment to the coun­try. I also have it on good author­ity that the lo­cal plant has se­cured a deal to build the next gen­er­a­tion C-Class.

“This in­vest­ment rep­re­sents Mer­cedes-Benz con­fi­dence in SA and its labour force for our pop­u­lar C-Class range,” said Jo­hannes Fritz, co-CEO of Mer­cedes-Benz SA and also ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Mercedes­Benz Cars.

Ac­cord­ing to Selvin Govender, di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing at the com­pany, the C-Class re­mains its most suc­cess­ful model and sold 415,000 units world­wide in 2017 alone.

Of course, one of the suc­cesses of this is that the model is avail­able in var­i­ous body forms — from the sedan, coupé and cabri­o­let to the es­tate (sta­tion wagon) for other mar­kets.

The model now comes with a host of new tech­nol­ogy and en­gines, in­clud­ing a 1.5l en­gine (in the case of the C200) sup­ple­mented with a 48V on-board net­work and the elec­tric in­te­grated starter-gen­er­a­tor that R651,759 Now 140kW 400Nm 240km/h 7.6 sec­onds 4.8l/100km 121g/km pro­duces an ad­di­tional 10kW and 160Nm while ac­cel­er­at­ing.

There is also a new- gen­er­a­tion 2.0l turbo petrol en­gine in the C300 push­ing out 190kW and 370Nm.

Mean­while, the new 1.6l vari­ant of the cur­rent diesel en­gine fam­ily de­buts in the CClass and the C220d 4Matic now makes 143kW and 400Nm.

While BMW is ready­ing to re­veal its new 3 Se­ries later in 2018 and the A4 will re­ceive some mi­nor cos­metic up­dates, the C-Class’s lat­est up­dates should give it an­other gust of air to last it for an­other two years be­fore the next gen­er­a­tion model de­buts.

It’s not dif­fi­cult to see why it is so pop­u­lar.

Price: On sale date: Max power: Max torque: Top speed: 0-100km/h: Com­bined con­sump­tion: CO2 emis­sions: Star rat­ing:

The rear gets new LED lights and a re­vised dif­fuser on the C43 ver­sion. The in­te­rior gets a re­vised in­fo­tain­ment screen, left.

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