The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class arrives in South Africa with S-Class-esque style and tech to once again claim its position as the segment leader.
A famous (and, to some, sometimes infamous) British motor-vehicle television show host once said of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class that, over the years, the technologies found in the German marque’s flagship luxury saloon filters down to its more mainstream, yet premium, vehicles. However, with the latest iteration of the firm’s premium midsize sedan, it seems Mercedes didn’t want to keep the world waiting.
The W206-generation model sports elegant (yet tailored for the C-Class) body lines and interior design and an array of the tech that was first seen on the new Sonderklasse. So, considering all of this, does the box-fresh Benz have the potential to once again claim the crown as the leader in the premium midsize-sedan segment? Spoiler alert: undeniably so.
Introduced nearly three decades ago, the C-Class has always been an important car for the Stuttgart-based car manufacturer. Although its premium midsize-SUV stablemate – the GLC – has garnered great popularity, with myriad consumers preferring tall-riding vehicles, the sedan has soldiered on as one of Benz’s best sellers. And it’s no wonder why. The C-Class is beautifully designed outside and in and is equipped with, ahem, class-leading tech and driving manners. The new variant only enhances these attributes that consumers have come to adore of its namesake.
From an exterior point of view, the C-Class sculpted silhouette spans from a star-studded radiator grille, endowed with the illustrious three-pointed star emblem, towards the rear. Flanking the avant-garde nose – as standard, the C-Class ships with the Avantgarde exterior package, though our test unit was equipped with the optional AMG Line package – are a pair of LED headlamps, which incorporate striking LED daytime running lights. The AMG-style alloy wheels add a sense of sophistication and dynamism to the C-Class’ soft contours.
The interior is, however, arguably the highlight of the new C. The exquisitely crafted cabin is solidly constructed and spacious. There’s ample head- and knee room for passengers and a generous luggage capacity of 455 litres. A large, portrait-orientated infotainment touchscreen dominates the facia. The latter unit, which features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, is a cinch to operate. The digital driver’s display is crisp. Adding sportiness to the cabin is the flat-bottomed AMG Line steering wheel. It feels pleasing in the palms, though it does take some time to get used to the touch-enabled controls. Safety equipment includes, among myriad others, six airbags and Isofix child-seat anchorages.
Two derivatives are currently on offer, the C200 and C220d driven here. The diesel-powered variant is arguably the pick of the duo, with the engine offering 147 kW and 440 Nm of torque. Thanks to the addition of mild-hybrid tech, the motor offers additional bursts of 15 kW for short durations. This, together with the smooth-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission, allows for fuss-free overtaking acceleration. The steering is well-weighted. In town, the new C-Class performs commendably. The ride is comfortable, with the suspension soaking up most road imperfections with aplomb.
Priced from R813 490 (a five-year/100 000 km maintenance plan is included, as is a two-year/unlimited km warranty), the new C-Class offers a near-perfect balance between comfort and dynamism, though leans towards the former. This is, of course, not to its detriment. It’s as a C-Class should be. However, with this model, the experience is yet again only elevated to class-leading standards. It is truly a case of “Honey, I shrunk the S-Class”.