Published on April 24th, 2015 | by Subhash Nair0
CKD Mercedes C-Class Driven. Sideways!
The sedan as a body style is beginning to really fall out of favour. For over a century, it has been the bread and butter of the automobile industry, but market demand for coupé styling has skyrocketed, and we’re beginning to see that shift really take hold. It’s not such a bad thing, when you consider just how well a car like the new Mercedes C-Class can pull it off. Just one generation ago, this model existed as a handsome, muscular saloon, but barely any line broke new ground.
The current model – the W205 – takes things up a notch though. It shares so many design cues with the much larger S-Class one couldn’t be faulted for thinking this car wasn’t a 3-Series or A4 competitor. Instead of taking the bold and angular design language of its competitors to a new level of acuteness, Mercedes has massaged a gentle, flowing appearance into the bodywork and you know what, it works so well.
Just because the car leans towards a more luxurious look, doesn’t mean that it’s not sporty. It’s still got a lot of power under that hood, and very responsive steering to ensure its rear wheels keep pushing the car in the right direction. Extensive use of aluminium has lightened up the new car, making it a little more efficient and a lot quicker. And when it comes to driving fast, there’s nothing like great safety to give you confidence around corners.
That’s what Mercedes set out to prove this morning when they invited members of the media to test their new C-Class’ extremely advanced and powerful Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) and braking aids. The first test was probably the most interesting. What they did was slap a couple of low-grip plastic tyres on the rear wheels – where the power gets sent to – and made us go around a few cones. The tyres were specially designed to simulate snowy conditions, and boy did they do their job.
The first run was done with ESP turned off. Naturally, every driver spun out on at least one occasion. Some – like yours truly – spun out several times. Of course, we were all trying to get the tail out, but with the rear wheels spinning, it was a real challenge to get the balance right, and even when it went right, entering each new turn still felt like a gamble. Though undeniably a lot of fun in a close-circuit, but never what you want to experience on a public road.
Thankfully though, the new C-Class comes with one of the most intelligent ESP systems available. On our second run, with it enabled everything went buttery smooth. Even without rubber on the back tyres, it simply refused to lose control. Mind you, there was quite a bit of loose gravel and stones on the test track.
Here’s what it looked like with a professional behind the wheel:
Item number 2 was an obstacle course. This was the most challenging as points of entry were tight and turns extremely sharp. But with ESP enabled and regular tyres on, it was actually a great experience pushing the locally assembled C200 and C250 models to their limits. Of course, these aren’t sport-oriented cars like C63, which made driving them hard even more impressive.
The final test demonstrated how the car handled emergency braking in a few different situations, with each round beginning with feet planted firmly on the throttle and ending with them planted firmly on the brakes. The ABS and ESP systems on board were so adept at keeping the car in control that we were able to manoeuvre the cars into a tight spot while stopping from highway speeds.
While we were doing these tests, I couldn’t help but notice just how exquisite the interior of the new C-Class is. Quite a number of trim options were brought out as well. The white-on-wood finish was definitely a winner in my books, as it balanced some of the sportier elements, like the circular air vents, with the car’s natural elegance. The range of customisability on these cars even extends to the scent you want flowing through the air vents, but that obviously wasn’t part of the day’s activities.
With a selling price that starts at RM253,926.89 the success of the locally-assembled Mercedes C-Class seems like an eventuality. The stock of CBU models were gobbled up completely in a matter of months, and now that the car has a World Car Award to its name, it’s going to be even more appealing to those in the market for a compact executive sedan.