Amid all the repositioning of the Mercedes roster – the C-class Coupe is essentially the new CLK, but there's a E-class Coupe that uses C-class parts too – the C-class saloon remains a no-nonsense, reliable choice in the compact exec segment.
But worried about looking too much like a taxi? Want to spice things up with a bit of bodykit (and we don’t mean a yellow light on the roof)? Then the snappily-monikered C220 CDI BlueEfficiency Saloon Sport is just for you.
You can’t mistake it for anything but a Mercedes, can you?
The Sport trim, with a bodykit – which includes AMG-branded 18-inch seven-spoke alloys, aprons, skirts (yes, you can be macho and sporty in aprons and skirts), steering wheel and floormats – comes as standard on the C-class Coupe but is an option on the saloon. And in Sport trim, sports suspension drops the four-door by 15mm and the suspension benefits from an Adaptive Damping System; handling is noticeably sharper than in wallowier SE and Elegance trim. That said, all these adjustments still make the ride considerably stiffer. You want Sport? You get Sport.
Sportier suspension? With a BlueEfficiency model?
Don’t scoff, especially because every model bar the C63 is tagged with the BlueEfficiency badge. There are occasions when jazzing up a standard, straightforward model with bodykit and suspension tweaks is akin to putting go-faster stripes on a Thundersley Invacar. But with a 0-62mph sprint of 8.4 seconds (8.1 with the seven-speed paddle-shift auto box – a £1500 option – on the model we tested), the 2.1-litre turbodiesel is far from sluggish.
With 295lb ft of torque delivered at 1400-2800rpm, there’s bags of grunt available. On B-roads it’s merely a whelk’s eyelash away (that’s a good north-eastern saying) from being as nimble as its closest BMW equivalent, the 320d M Sport. And, at motorway speeds it charges forward like an open-side flanker breaking out of the scrum at full chat, and yet it promises 64.2mpg economy for the manual and 58.9mpg for the 7G-Tronic Plus gearbox.
What goodies do you suggest we splurge our hard-earned on then?
The new C-class has already taken its interior to a new level – whether it be the tactile, understated padded surfaces or the Comand multimedia system, which remains the benchmark for other manufacturers to beat. Leather, a £1350 option on our test car, is a pricey option, so we suggest you stick with the standard Liverpool cloth (yes, Liverpool) and Artico artificial leather. Elegant and understated is the theme here.
What might be a sensible option is forking out £450 for an improved media interface which includes a six-disc CD changer and the option to hook up an army of media devices via the USB port and iPod slots. Having experienced the whole gamut of manufacturers’ attempts to create the perfect infotainment system, it’s clear that Mercedes are the class leaders. Simplicity of use meets functionality is the Holy Grail, and MB owns it.
Ok, so it’s a class act. But premium saloons means a premium price, yep?
A score under £31k (or over £32k with our auto ) but, in the words of independent car salesmen everywhere, you get a heck of a lot of car for that money. Saloon it may be, but it’s practical too. A weekend trip up to the Cotswolds with wife and child involves the same amount of kit that most battalions take with them on manoeuvres – and yet the C-class boot kept on swallowing up the pushchairs, foodbags and Thomas the Tank Engine toys.
Excellent though it is, if you are going to rack up the motorway miles, you might like to consider reserving the £1500 spent on the 7G-Tronic Plus autobox and spending it on the upgraded sat nav (£495), that £450 media system and £330 on heated front seats.
Premium, economical, quick, elegant, reliable, roomy – and with a veneer of sportiness too. It’s difficult to know how the C220 CDI Sport could be bettered – apart from perhaps the wagon version. And while £30,980 and rising could hardly be considered a mere trifle for most car buyers, it’s competitively-priced too. No car is truly futureproof, but this is a vehicle that you know will still happily be gliding around in 20 years time.
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