Mercedes-Benz has delivered a very handsome, compact saloon with its new C-Class. The five-seat, three-box shape has come a long way since morphing from the blocky '190' into the first C Class (W202) in 1993. The latest C-Class features more body creases than Iggy Pop!
The exterior design will be a big selling point, and the German brand has done a great job styling its latest premium compact business machine. The car is slightly longer and wider than the model it replaces. With its fluid body lines, there is a lot of the MB flagship S-Class to be seen - especially in the rear three-quarters. The front-end is more aggressive, while the flanks feature some lovely pressed metal styling lines. C-Class has lost weight, too, with extensive use of aluminium. This has helped improve handling and reduced fuel consumption.
Inside C-Class there is a load of new technology to play with in a well-executed cabin. The classic Mercedes-Benz ambience is still present but new electronic interactive toys have been integrated well. The latest C-Class will go a long way to reducing the 45+ age profile of Mercedes buyers. While there is a commonly held perception of the typical Mercedes driver having little interest in the whole driving process as they cruise along listening to lyric fm at 10km/h under the speed limit, the new tech will encourage a bit more interaction – there's even internet connectivity!
Click and touch functionality features and, of course, steering wheel-mounted buttons give the driver a pilot-like level of control. That said, our C220 CDI test car was still very simple and easy to drive. The push button electronic parking brake and simple stalk-mounted gear shifter (with wheel-mounted paddle-shifts) were effortless to use.
On the road C-Class delivers a comfortable and premium quality driving experience. There is even optional air suspension on higher specified models and a head up display. C-Class is still not a match for a BMW 3-Series when it comes to encouraging dynamic driving - but it is a Merc! Michael Schumacher was even involved in the car's development as part of his Mercedes duties but I never felt the urge to raise my pulse rate in the 170hp C220. Behind the wheel you go with the flow without the need to take the twisty route home. C-Class makes you feel content and confident at the same time.
The model range in Ireland, initially, features one diesel - the 'A3' tax band, 2.2-litre 220 CDI 'Bluetec' diesel - and two petrol engines. Diesel prices start at €43,300 for the manual and rise through specification grades of Avantgarde, Exclusive and AMG to the range-topping AMG Automatic C220 Bluetec at €51,615. Petrol power starts with the C180 that uses the Renault-sourced 156hp, 1.6-litre, tax band 'A4', four-cylinder engine (€37,750). For more power, the C200 has a 2.0-litre, 135hp unit and starts at €39,500.
C-Class is a very important machine for Mercedes-Benz as it will be a volume seller. C-Class combines elegant exterior styling with a handsome cabin and a choice of power trains, and has a look to suit most users.