Wednesday 13 December 2017

Long goodbye to C Class begins with a €4,500 hello

The Mercedes GLA is finally here.
The Mercedes GLA is finally here.
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

THIS is a sort of long goodbye to a compact executive. It is known as a 'runout' version of the German marque's compact saloon. In other words, a new one is coming along in the middle of next year so they have to make this an attractive proposition for sufficient numbers of buyers to opt for the present rather than the future.

Which, to state the obvious, means you have a choice.

You forget about it and wait for the vastly better new one (a reasonable summary of Mercedes' own words).

Or you do your own calculations on all the extras they have packed in and decide maybe there is more to this than meets the eye.

In this, the C-Class is a bit like a long-distance runner making a final sprint for the line and digging deep for reserves as the best sports commentators' cliche goes.

And, basically, that comes down to Mercedes adding a performance AMG look to the saloon.

That's so you will be tempted to buy it in January because of extra equipment worth up to €4,500 without a price increase.

It is being badged as Edition C. So watch out for that.

It gets AMG body-styling front and rear aprons and, on Avantgarde models (the one I had), there are sill panels.

The famous three-pointed star is set into the radiator grille, there are 17ins alloys and chromed exhaust pipe ends.

There are new sports seats in Artico leather, air con, Bluetooth, cruise control, stop/start, a multi-function steering wheel, dark aluminium trim, colour infotainment display, parktronic and drowsiness detecting Attention Assist.

It is the smartest looking I've seen the C-Class – though a few people thought a white Merc wasn't the best idea.

Powering mine was a 2.2-litre (2,143cc, 136bhp) diesel which costs from €43,125 ex-works. With 135g/km (road tax of €280) it is remarkable how 'big' cars with 'big' engines manage to keep consumption and emissions so low.

The C-Class was never what you'd call a big 'driver's' car but it has always had a really loyal following and I must say I enjoyed my drives in this.

Maybe I'm a bit nostalgic because it is a sort of final goodbye but it did drive rather well. That is a good diesel; plenty of pull. Comfortable car too.

But would I buy it? Personally, I'd always hold on for something brand new.

However, I know from experience that it doesn't quite work that way with Mercedes people who want a new car in January and are not prepared to wait six months or more.

As well as that, people don't get to be Merc buyers without being good with the maths – any day you get €4,500 or so for 'nothing' is not a bad one.

Tough call.

Rolling back the years

MERCEDES can hardly be accused of being the preserve of the ‘mature’ mainly male car buyer any longer. The current A-Class is very much a young person’s car and I know several twenty-somethings who love the CLA 4dr coupe – a CLA 200 version is due here early next year. The GLA compact SUV – based on the same A-Class and CLA platform – will almost certainly continue on that route. It will have petrol and diesel engine and transmissions that include all-wheel-drive. As I’ve already outlined, the new C- Class is here in June according to my most up-to-date assessments. Interesting to see how it is pitched. And then we will have a new S-Class Coupe next autumn. Fair dues to any twenty-somethings who can afford that.

Irish Independent

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