In a class of its own

2011-07-22 15:13

The new Mercedes-Benz ­C-Class boasts more new features, aggressive looks and a new engine, and is set to hold on to the title of the leading luxury sedan in the country.

Having driven the new C-Class a few months ago at the ­international launch in Tenerife, ­Canary Islands, I was eager to see the locally built quality of the car here at home.

I could barely tell the difference in quality from the European ­model and the locally built cars.

The C-Class has a 40% market share in the local luxury sedan segment.

Although it is in its third ­generation of South African-built cars, the new model is more than just a face-lift.

It has more than 2 000 new ­components compared with its predecessor, so Mercedes-Benz South Africa considers it a brand-new car.

Both the sedan and estate ­models have been given serious styling tweaks – all models are BlueEfficiency with some of the new engines reducing fuel ­consumption by up to 29%.
 
Other efficiency-enhancing means include an improved 7G-tronic plus automatic gearbox and the new ecostart/stop function, which is standard on the ­4-cylinder diesel models.

The headlight cluster is more ­aggressive and features an intelligent light system with matt and gloss finishes, while the front bumper is much more prominent.

The bi-xenon headlights are optional and the cluster also features a distinctive C-shape light. There’s also the horizontal LED daytime-running lights on the bumper.

The bonnets look identical to the old ones, but are now full aluminium for weight reduction.

The interior boasts fresh looks, with finer details and galvanised equipment. The cabin is slightly bigger, thanks to the larger ­sections of trim.

The Elegance models have brown ash wood or dark burr walnut wood and a four-spoke steering wheel, while the Avantgarde has brushed aluminium/high-gloss black ash wood and a three-spoke steering wheel.
 
There’s a certain level of ­refinement to the engines, which is picked up when driving the new range, and the cars are even more comfortable than before.

The models sport four petrol ­engines and three diesel. Petrol engines have direct injection, with the highlight being the new V6 engine in the C350. The 4-cylinder engines are turbocharged.

There are nine new driver ­assistance systems, which ­include ­active lane-keeping assist, active blind spot assist, attention assist, distronic plus and ­parktronic.

The new telematics system is a first for the company with internet access. It features larger displays, phone book transfer, display of SMSes and music transfer from your phone via Bluetooth.

The multimedia command ­on-line system provides internet access for the first time.

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