The Mercedes-Benz C-Class as you’d imagine is a major model for the Stuttgart based manufacturer. It has to be good, everything relies on the C-Class having a good reputation so they can churn out loads of them to all corners of the globe. It’s imperative to SA, where in East London they build the C-Class. You can tell the engineers and designers have thought hard about this car, who it appeals to and what that buyer wants. With continuous pressure from the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4, has Mercedes-Benz got this model right?
The LooksMerc has been punching out some rather good looking models of late. I quite like the A-Class design, CLA and the new S-Class. They’re all attractive cars and the C-Class looks just like a miniature version of the S-Class. The front for me is the best angle, I’m in two minds as to whether I like the rear end though, the light cluster looks blobby and the rear quarter of the Benz looks short. It’s obviously not short, the new C-Class is nearly 10cm longer and weighs around 100kg less thanks to the use of aluminium in the build.
Tech FestIf you go full steam ahead into the optional packages of the C-Class you’ll come across the most advanced driving systems currently available. Our particular C250 came specced with the Driving Assistance Package Plus, this particular package prides itself on making sure you don’t crash or in some cases don’t have to drive at all.
The Distronic Plus system which, automatically adjusts cruise control based on the distance to car ahead now has a built in Steer Control feature. This means that it will either automatically follow the lane markings ahead, steering on its own or follow the car ahead, again steering by itself. Don’t think you can take a nap whilst your C-Class drives along though, your hands have to be on the steering wheel or you get a nasty beep forcing you to return to the wheel.
Even if you try to take a nap with your hands on the wheel, Merc’s Attention Assist feature is standard and detects if you’re falling asleep, urging you to wake up via more beeps.
Some of the kit is truly impressive, the new heads-up display that beams information into the corner of the windshield is particularly high-res and very clear to see. There’s lane keeping assist and blind spot detectors as well as automatic headlamp control which, makes night time driving a breeze. Just slap the main beams on and the system does the rest, automatically adjusting for oncoming traffic and then returning to main beam.
What’s it like to Drive?This is the key element where the Mercedes-Benz C-Class engineers have thought on the hardest. With the A-Class and CLA models designed for the sporty, young driver the C-Class has gone straight down the sophisticated route. The drive is supreme, it feels plush on the road, not excitable over bumps and there’s an aura of calm as you waft along. Road noise is not permitted to enter the cabin and only a slightest hint of an engine note is meant to pass into the occupants’ ear.
The C-Class has options to ramp up the handling and response from the gearbox but it just drives so smoothly you don’t need it to be sporty. A lot of vehicles in the segment have tried to be good at everything from sports car to comfortable cruiser, the new C-Class knows what it wants to be – a comfortable executive sedan that oozes quality. Job done.
The engine in our C250 is a 2-litre turbo petrol with 155 kW and 350 Nm. During our testing we were getting around 7l/100km and the reason I quote fuel economy first is because I never really felt the need to push the C-Class, it’s got grunt when you need it, but actually sounds gruff for a petrol unit. When you drive this engine together with the seven-speed automatic gearbox you find yourself driving it like a diesel. The torque pushes you along at low RPM and the ‘box shifts up before it hits 3 000 rpm most of the time. Like I may have mentioned above, it's smooth and calm.
Cabin FeverThe C-Class has taken interiors to the next level, even though I’m not a fan of wood finish interiors. Obviously you don’t have to have wood, but ours did and it didn’t instantly turn me into a pensioner because you’re cocooned by a well-designed, swoopy dashboard and centre console. There’s a tablet-styled screen up top for multimedia, navigation and vehicle settings – all controlled through the centre-mounted dial. It’s a simple, clean, and easy to use design.
VerdictThe C-Class has pin-pointed its target market with German precision and accuracy. It knows what its drivers want and it has pandered to their requests. The result is the most refined and well-forged vehicle in the segment. It has the ability to be sporty but only as a gimmick, no doubt it will leave that forte to the chaps in the AMG department. For now you can drive around to business acquisitions in absolute comfort and stateliness.
Second OpinionI knew the 2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class was going to be good, but this good? It really is a remarkable piece of kit and while it may not be as dynamic as some of its rivals, it certainly supersedes them in terms of premium quality and feel.-David Taylor
C-Class Pricing in South AfricaThe Mercedes-Benz C-Class starts at R415 900 for the C180. The C250 starts at R502 600. Our test unit is estimated to cost around R600 000 with all of its extras.
2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class C250 quick specs
|Engine||2-litre 4-cylinder turbo|
|0-100km/h||6.6 seconds (claimed)|
|Fuel economy||5.9l/100 km (claimed)|
We dislike: . Petrol sounds like a diesel