The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class road test review

BENCHMARK is an understatement.

Australia's biggest selling luxury car just got a whole lot better.

The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class reaches showrooms today, starting just above $60,000 and it's good. Damn good in fact.

That price is slightly higher than the outgoing model, although Mercedes estimates it has packed an extra $10,000 worth of kit inside.

Not only is there more equipment, but also additional space. In fact, the new C-Class is bigger than a 1995 model E-Class, it's longer, wider and sits lower to the ground than its predecessor.

Five powerplants will ultimately be available, two petrol, two diesel and a diesel hybrid. Wagon variants (that cost and extra $2500) will start arriving from November.

For now only three are here, the base C200 petrol, C250 oil-burner and the C250 petrol - which collectively are expected to grab the lion's share of sales.

Comfort

Open the door and you find the deal clincher. The C-Class cabin is breathtakingly good.

In the past, interiors of the mainstream offerings have been set to a formula - and even the entry level European variants have bordered on basic. Not this new Mercedes.

Chrome clad air vents, grand piano-like dash finishes and a colour screen with its own touch pad are standard fare. Even the man-made leather feels good.

The driver has a chunky sports steering wheel, two analogue instruments for speedo and tacho which sit either side of a colour digital display.

On the road

Prestige expectations are fulfilled by a quiet and compliant ride.

Tyre rumble is often an area where the Europeans are found wanting, not on this occasion. The C-Class feels beautifully insulated from outside elements.

You won't find much wrong with any of the powertrains on offer either.

The introductory petrol can take some time to reach full power, yet it's still no slouch with a sub-eight second time for the 0-100kmh sprint.

For those with about $70,000 to spend the choice would have to be one of the C250s. They offer a lovely turn of speed and manage to walk the line of easy cruiser and capable corner crusader.

Sitting on the MRA platform means the C-Class has architecture made of 48% aluminium which has aided in achieving weight reduction of 40kg despite the larger cabin.

Hit the "agility" toggle and there are driving style choices between economy, sport, sport+ (for minimal stability control intrusion) and an individual set-up. Switching into the sport modes deliver noticeably sharper shifts for a tighter and more performance-focused ride.

Air suspension is also available for keen drivers for about $2000 - depending on which model you choose and luxury car tax implications.

More good news, the horrible foot-operated park brake is gone and replaced by a much more refined electric function.

What do you get?

New base model inclusions are electric adjustable front seats, LED headlamps instead of bi-xenon, digital radio and larger 18-inch alloys wheels. Add that to cruise control, man-made leather trim, keyless entry, 17.7cm high definition colour display, dual zone air con and an automatic parking function.

Safety includes nine airbags, the usual passive equipment, such as stability and traction control, front and rear parking sensors as well as blind spot warning.

The C250s also get real leather, 19-inch alloys, privacy glass, hands-free access, power boot lid, along with the very cool Driver Assistance Package, which incorporates radar cruise control, lane keep assist which helps keep the car within the lines, and functions which prepare the car for impact if it detects an accident is imminent.

Prestige buyers do like to personalise, and Mercedes has several impressive packs which deliver excellent value for money. We especially like the AMG kit for its body kit and sporty interior touches.

Running costs

All achieve impressive fuel consumption figures, meaning any C-Class without any option packs escapes luxury car tax. Each should achieve less than seven litres for every 100km.

While maintenance costs aren't an issue for most Mercedes drivers, the marque is investigating capped price servicing.

There are some servicing packages available whereby you pay up front for timeframes between two and five years, but there has been limited take-up of those offers.

Funky factor

Three-pointed star hood ornaments looked confined to history in the C-Class's case. Only Avantgarde styling is available, with the big emblem in the grille.

That's due to popular demand, and there were even some cases of buyers of the previous model who had the traditional look take their C-Class back to the dealer to swap their grille for the more modern style.

Practicality

Extra shoulder room, along with improved legroom make the C-Class a comfortable chariot which suits four adults.

Boot space is a useful 480 litres aided by the 40/20/40 split folding rear seat which drop at the pull of a lever.

Push on a console lid and it reveals a dual cup holder, a handy spot for keys and a 12 volt plug. In the console are two USB ports and an SD card slot.

What matters most

What we liked: Beautifully composed interior, quiet and refined ride, strong engine line-up, electronic park brake.

What we'd like to see: Ability to fold the screen - although there are probably few occasions where you would actually want it hidden.

Warranty and servicing: Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is at 25,000km or annually.

Vital statistics

Model: Mercedes-Benz C-Class (model W205).

Details: Four-door rear-wheel drive luxury medium-size sedan.

Engine: C200 - 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 135Nm @ 5500rpm and peak torque of 300Nm 1200-4000rpm; C250 - 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol 155kW @ 5500rpm and 350Nm @ 1200-4000rpm; C250 BlueTec 2.1-litre four-cylinder 150kW @ 3800rpm and 500Nm 1600-1800rpm.

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic.

Consumption: 6.0 litres/100km (combined average); 6.0L/100km; 4.5L/100km.

CO2: 138g/km; 138g/km; 116g/km.

Bottom line: C200 $60,900, C250 $68,900, C250 BlueTec $70,400.


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