Though it’s had its share of duds over the years, Mercedes has always preserved an image as a premium brand, The latest incarnation of the C-Class will surely help maintain that positive profile.
I have to confess to being a long-standing fan of the three-pointed star. The finest car I ever owned personally was a 1965 300 SEL that I took round the clock twice. And now I’m pleased to report that the C-Class has been among my best drives in 2011.
Safety, comfort, performance and agility are present in equal measure, underlined by the latest in technology.
This includes the newly developed agility control package, with its situation-responsive shock absorber control, an intelligent light system with five different lighting functions and an innovative preventive occupant protection system.
The C-Class offers a choice of four and six-cylinder engines with up to 13 percent more output than the previous models accompanied by up to 11 percent better fuel consumption.
The brand new C 180 Kompressor BlueEFFICIENCY, for instance, delivers exceptionally economical motoring without any performance penalty, all thanks to a series of weight-saving and energy management measures plus enhanced aerodynamics.
As happens with most cars as they enter new model years, the C-Class has grown, giving a more spacious interior.
It’s a handsome beast, with a stylish wedge shape emphasising its high performance pretensions, especially in the AMG designed Sport derivative. That shape also gives generous back seat accommodation and enhanced luggage space.
A choice of Sport, Elegance and SE versions accentuate the potential buyer’s option to tailor his or her purchase to personal tastes. At the top end of the range, the world’s only seven-speed automatic transmission comes as standard while all other variants have a six-speed box featuring hill-start assist.
During its development, the new C-Class successfully passed more than 100 crash tests, including the particularly demanding in-house impact tests, some of which some go well beyond legal requirements.
Occupant protection is based on an intelligently designed bodyshell, 70 percent of which consists of high-strength and ultra high-strength steel. Compared to the previous series, Mercedes-Benz has enlarged the deformation zones and improved energy flows. The front-end structure of the new C-Class has four independently acting impact levels, which enable crash forces to be distributed over a wide area while bypassing the passenger cell.
The safety technology in the interior has been complemented with the very latest protection systems. Seven airbags are included as standard equipment: two adaptive airbags for the driver and front passenger, a knee bag for the driver, two side bags in the front seat backrests and two large window bags which extend from the A to the C-pillar during a side impact.
The driver, front passenger and the passengers on the outer rear seats also benefit from belt tensioners and belt force limiters as standard. The standard head restraints operate on the neck-pro principle: during a rear-end collision the padded surfaces are pushed forward within milliseconds to support the heads of the driver and front passenger at an early stage. This significantly reduces the risk of a whiplash injury.
Mercedes-Benz has developed flashing brake lights as a major help in reducing rear-end collisions, and these are standard equipment in the new C-Class. If the driver needs to brake hard at speeds in excess of 31 mph, the brake lights flash rapidly to warn drivers following behind.
I particularly liked the intelligent cruise control, which automatically adjusts the gap between the car and the vehicle ahead.
An intelligent, well-sorted car, he new C-Class Saloon replaces a model series of which more than 1.4 million units have been sold in the past decade. All in all, Mercedes-Benz has delivered more than two million of the saloon, estate and sports coupé models of the previous C-Class to customers all over the world, making it the bestseller in the Mercedes-Benz passenger car range.
It’s roomy, quick and economical. What more do you want?