New C200 Mercedes Benz 2014

July 20, 2016
2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

C-Class is here. Finally. On first acquaintance in Europe, we praised everything from its quality to a starting price of $60, 900 and rating it an early contender for Car of the Year. After our first local drive, it's a shortening favourite.

After 250km of very mixed motoring, from inner-city Melbourne tram tracks to a stretch of muddy forest road, there is barely anything to fault. It's a five-star car for me, a very rare honour.

The new C-Class gets better fuel economy than a Toyota Camry, costs the same as a fully loaded Chrysler 300, is about to outsell the Mazda6, has more standard safety than cars that cost more than $150, 000, and is available as a miserly hybrid.

A reversing camera is standard, it will brake automatically in an emergency — earning a 15 per cent discount from some insurers — and it has wipe-down vinyl seats that are family-friendly.

Yes, it's a Mercedes-Benz, and that must go against it. We mark hard because we expect the world's oldest car maker to do good work and because we know there is a bias against the brand.

But the world has turned from the time when only super-rich people could afford to park a three-pointed star in the driveway. These days, thanks to starting prices as low as $35, 600 — the same as a Holden Commodore — there are more Mercedes in Middle Australia than ever before and people are shopping the star against a VW Golf or top-end Ford Falcon.

It still busts most budgets despite that relatively affordable bottom line, and it's easy to romp past $80, 000 for a C250 with extras, but it's a lot of car for the cash. It drives like a much costlier car and you could happily live with the no frills C200. For a very long time.

VALUE

The C-Class starting price is up by $1000, a rare rise in a time of red-pen pricing A basic petrol C200 starts at $60, 900, with the flagship C300 BlueTEC Hybrid at $74, 900 for deliveries next year. In the middle ground, the petrol C250 starts at $68, 900 and the cheapest diesel, the C200 BluteTEC, from $62, 400.

What's significant is that all five of the C-Class sedans are priced below the luxury car tax threshold — although the belter V8-powered C63 AMG will bust that barrier next year — and Mercedes-Benz Australia claims a $9000 improvement in standard equipment.

The list now runs to power seats, LED lights, 18-inch alloys, auto braking and satnav. To give some pricing perspective, a basic BMW 320 costs $60, 500 and a Chrysler 300C Luxury starts at $51, 000.

TECHNOLOGY

Most of the good stuff in the compact C-Class comes from the S-Class flagship, from the automatic safety braking to electric window switches that don't feel remotely cheap. It's a car that's loaded with safety stuff but also benefits from a new generation of engines with stop-start and turbocharging.

In the C200, performance is almost a match for the outgoing C250 yet its claimed fuel economy is 6.0L/100km (I saw 5.7L on my preview drive). It uses old-school rear-wheel drive for refinement and driving enjoyment, with a seven-speed automatic gearbox.

The new body is bigger but nearly half of the panels are made from aluminium, which cuts weight by up to 40kg. The hybrid in the C-Class is a diesel job, claiming 4.0L.

DESIGN

The body follows Benz's latest styling direction, which is more aggressive than the outgoing car, but the interior has been modernised without losing its effectiveness. There's a large touch screen — 7 inches to start, 8.4 with an infotainment upgrade — and old-school dials with an optional head-up display. Paddle-shifters are standard.

Source: www.carsguide.com.au
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