C-Class now 'speaks' Putonghua
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is the German marque's largest-selling car. Codenamed W 201 at its 1982 launch, the car has evolved from a boxy 'Baby Benz' to a sophisticated and stylish inner-city drive.
The C-Class used to be dismissed in snobbier parts of Hong Kong as a cut-price Benz, but has always lived up to the marque's promise of providing 'top Mercedes technology in compact form'.
The roomier second versions (W 202) in 1993 were the first passenger cars to have four-valve diesel engines and the third generation (W 203) in 2000 ushered in a sports coupe (CL 203) then an estate version a year later. The fourth C-Class (W 204) emphasised the divide between the range's plush and traditional-looking Elegance variants and the more sporty Avantgarde, which flaunted a giant Mercedes-Benz star on a new grille.
The latest C-Classes have been built with 'over 2,000 new components' and look so swish you might question the wisdom of spending more and first registration tax for a larger luxury car.
Unveiled at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, the facelifts have a more 'self-assured' look, Mercedes-Benz says, citing a 'more expressive' front bumper and 'dynamic contours'. The headlights have a new shape, taillights have been redesigned and the aerodynamics have been sleeked to 0.26Cd.
The interior has been revamped with a restyled dashboard, steering-wheel design and more detail on controls.
The differences between the Elegance and Avantgarde interior designs are more pronounced. The Elegance has trim parts in matt brown ash or dark burr walnut while the Avantgarde is finished in brushed aluminium and black ash. The Elegance gets a four-spoke leather-covered steering wheel while the Avantgarde gets a sportier three-spoke with perforated leather in the three and nine o'clock position.
The C-Class now 'speaks' Chinese for the first time, thanks to the marque's Linguatronic voice-operated control system in Putonghua. Mercedes-Benz has also packed the model with several new driving assistance systems including the standard Attention Assist drowsiness-detection system. The new C-Class also debuts a new telematics generation that is expected to be introduced to the marque's other models.
'Major new features include greater operating convenience, larger displays, telephone directory transfer, display of SMS messages, wireless music reproduction via Bluetooth and a USB interface now accommodated in the centre armrest,' Mercedes-Benz says.
The maker has fitted the latest models with BlueEFFICIENCY engines which, it says, are up to 31 per cent more fuel-efficient than their predecessors.
The range will consist of the C 180 (from HK$356,000); C 200 (from HK$403,500); C 250 (from HK$498,000); C 300 (HK$596,500), and the 306hp V6 C 350 (HK$693,000), which can produce 370Nm of torque, 5Nm more than its predecessor. All have the marque's ECO start/stop function and automatic versions will feature the enhanced 7G-TRONIC PLUS seven-speed automatic transmission as standard.
The marque also introduces a range of estate versions from the C 180 Classic (HK$378,000) to the C 350 options (HK$718,000). The C 63 AMG version is also available as a saloon (HK$1.184 million) and an estate (HK$1.239 million).