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Mercedes-Benz C200 2007 Review

The latest incarnation of Mercedes' C-Class is faster and handles better.
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For two years now, the best entry-level 'German' type junior prestige car has come from Lexus. The luxury arm of Toyota's global octopus specifically developed the IS series as a riposte to the dual monopoly enjoyed by BMW's class defining 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz's C-Class.

Since the IS250's launch in 2005, Lexus has had it well and truly over the 320i and the old C180K in the circa-$60K stakes.

Consider six cylinders against four, rear-wheel-drive dynamics that approach Bimmer and surpass Merc, plus standard kit and equipment that show up both the Germans as parsimonious.

Although it's never bothered badge tragics that you have to go far north of $70K to get a petrol Bimmer or Merc with a real engine, the best thing about the 2007-generation C200K is that while you may be a try-hard, the car itself no longer is.

The E-Class's version of the supercharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine has been bequeathed to the C200K so it achieves if not rapidity then at least respectability.

With 135kW and 250Nm (30 more units of each than previously) driven through a five-speed automatic, the C-Class gets to 100km/h from rest in a feasibly claimed 8.6 seconds. That's barely removed from IS250 territory and more than a second ahead of the sleepy 320i auto.

All right, it's not going to trouble anyone with the readies to buy a V6 C280 or anyone with the sense to get the diesel version, but at last this entry-level Merc sedan has spark.

It still sounds like an adenoidal Hoover, though. To get a Mercedes with a decent engine note do you really have to auction one of your organs so you can afford a V8?

Still, the enhanced response, especially when set in sport mode, is backed by dynamics and body control that are altogether sharper these days.

That's in keeping with the marque's desire to capture buyers further from the verge of senescence than has long been the case.

No, the C-Class is not 3 Series-sharp, due in part to its hefty 1490kg kerb weight and light steering.

But though it lacks the 320i's razor-keen turn-in, the Merc keeps up with the game in most circumstances.

In real-world deployment, there's daylight between them, the Mercedes riding the raddled roads that encapsulate the Nero-like neglect of the Iemma era with the suppleness you've every right to expect. The contrast with the run-flat-tyred BMW doesn't flatter the latter.

Much; far too much; has been made of the dual shapes assumed by the latest C-Class.

There's the SLK-evoking Avantgarde range, with a tristar badge on its nose(supposedly for the young and hair-highlighted).

Then there are the Classic and Elegance models that, with the star mounted more traditionally on the bonnet, won't frighten the fogeys and the follicle-challenged.

Whichever, the main thing is the C-Class provides better value than previously, as evinced by a more obviously upmarket interior and an options list that fits easily on one page.

If the ask is still steep for what is, after all, merely a mid-size four-potter, the C200K rivals the Japanese car as the best 'German' around.



Mercedes-Benz C200K Classic

Price: $56,990

Engine: 1.8L/4-cylinder

Supercharged: 135kW/250Nm

Economy: 8.8L/100km (tested)

Transmission: 5-speed automatic


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Range and Specs

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