THE new Mercedes-Benz C-Class has a fight on its hands to gain the recognition designers feel it deserves not just from rivals but also from its siblings.
The German manufacturer is pumping out so many new models these days there is a danger that this "junior" E-Class may get lost in the mix. The new A-Class, CLA and GLA and B-Class are all grabbing the attention of the younger audience so making the C-Class relevant without cutting in on the E-Class territory is the balancing act the marketing people face.
The answer, apart from the smart new look, is to load the car with technology that will bridge the gap between young and old customers. So what you get is a car brimful of gadgets that make driving more pleasant, and a lot safer.
Suspension systems can be tweaked to suit road conditions and handling – sport or comfort driving. There is a pre-collision assistance system that uses radar to apply the brakes if the driver does not react quickly enough. This safety feature, which even recognises pedestrians, is standard on all versions, so full marks here. Another feature is attention assist which alerts the driver if there is evidence of tiredness indicated by wandering between lanes.
Younger drivers will probably more appreciate the 7" colour screen, sadly it looks like an afterthought, situated over the air vents on the dash, which is controlled by a touchpad which allows for typing and scrolling out sat nav destinations and music/phone access with a voice control facility.
All good stuff but surprise, surprise – listed as an option are cruise control and speed limiter functions. It is only a couple of hundred euro extra but for a car that will cost over €40,000, it seems a strange omission. Compact French family cars have it as standard. Air suspension is also an optional extra.