Mercedes-Benz C-Class VS Audi A5
- New standard 10.25-inch display
- New standard 12.3-inch virtual instrument cluster
- C 43 is a milder form of wild
- Boot space in Sedan and Estate is on the small side
- Artico upholstery in C 200 feels 'plasticky'
- Some wind noise around wing mirrors
- Stunning looks
- Masterful interior
- Plenty of great technology
- Firm-ish suspension could grate in city
- Lacks the practicality of a four-door
- Steering not as sharp as S5 model
Do you know how many bones you have in your body? Stop counting, there are 207. And if say half those bones were replaced with different ones would you consider yourself to still be the same? Well that’s what Benz has done with the new C-Class – sort of. Of the roughly 13,000 parts which make up a C-Class car, 6500 of them have been modified or changed.
You don’t need to know every change to the new C-Class, but at the end of this review you will be across the differences that you can see, feel and hear.
Just a note before we start. The top-of-the-range Mercedes-AMG C63 S arrives in early 2019 and wasn’t available to drive at the Australian C-Class launch. That’s why we’ll focus on the other grades here - the C 200, C 220 d, C 300 and C 43. We’ll test drive and review the Australian C 63 S when it arrives – promise.
|Engine Type||1.5L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Hybrid with Premium Unleaded|
Beauty is one of those things that’s near impossible to get across-the-board agreement on. What I think is cutting-edge and cool, you might think is the definition of trying too hard, and vice versa.
Or, to put it another way, we’ve been assured Ssangyong has sold more than zero cars, so their design has got to be working for someone, somewhere.
Of the 2017 Audi A5 Coupe, however, there can be no debate. It is beautiful. It’s indisputable. A perfectly placed collection of sleek lines, bulging guards and powerful stance.
But with a new platform, new suspension and an overhauled suite of engines, the question is whether this sleek coupe is more than just a pretty face.
The second-generation version of the A5 Sportback is set to appear in May, while the new A5 Cabriolet will follow later this year. For now, the two-door Coupe will lead the charge.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
This may well be just an update to the C-Class, but the changes made are significant in terms of technology and performance, and you’re paying hardly any extra money for it. A good all-rounder for dynamics, features, refinement and value.
The sweet spot in the range has to be the C 300. It’s less than $10K more than the entry grade C200, but gets a powerful 2.0-litre engine, leather seats, the extra advanced safety equipment, tinted windows and convenience features such as a power tailgate (on the wagon) and proximity unlocking.
Is the C-Class still the king of the mid-sized prestige world? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Stunning to behold, quiet to sit in and swimming in technology, the A5 Coupe ticks a lot of boxes. We’ll wait ’til we’ve driven it in the city before we make a final verdict, but at glance, there’s a lot to love about this sexy, slinky two-door.
Would the Audi A5 be your pick of the premium mid-size coupes? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Now, to spot the difference between the new and the old C-Class from the outside just look at the headlights – the shape of the fitting is the same, but the new standard headlights on the C 200, C 220 d and C 300 have an LED set-up which looks like teeth, while the optional units (standard on the C 43 and C 63 S) are also LED but with a tall staggered design. Tail-lights also keep the same shape but with a different LED pattern, too.
The front and rear bumpers have also been restyled for all grades and the C 43 and C 63 S have had their grilles updated, with the former getting a new twin-louvre design, while its big brother now has chrome vertical slats reminiscent of the grille worn by the 1952 Carrera Panamericana winning 300SL.
The AMG Line Exterior package is standard on the Coupe and Cabriolet, but if you option it on the sedan it will fit a sports body kit with AMG front spoiler and side skirts.
The C 43’s gloss black rear diffuser looks tough with the new quad exhaust and the car in wagon form wins my award for best looking of the C-Class bunch.
Cabins haven’t been overhauled but they have been updated with a 10.25-inch dash-top display for media and a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster - both are standard across the range and make a big styling impact in the cockpit. Mercedes-AMG grades have their own sporty version of the virtual instrument cluster.
The layout of controls remains the same, but you can now option a new real wood veneer to the centre console with 'open-pore brown walnut' and 'open-pore black ash' being your choices.
The Artico upholstery in the C 200 looks and feels ‘plasticky’. I’d option the real leather which comes standard on the C 300.
New to the C 43 are the optional ‘Performance’ seats with integrated head restraints and standard on this grade is a new leather AMG steering wheel. Other cool cabin features are the stainless-steel pedals, the AMG floor mats and stitched dash (even if it is Artico upholstery).
All grades now come standard with the 64-colour ambient lighting system. You should see the system fading through the colours at night and with the right music the whole effect is amazing.
Exterior and interior dimensions stay the same, all variants measuring about 4.7m in length. That’s a good size; not too big or small, making parking and manoeuvring in tight spaces pretty fuss-free.
The C-Class is made in various parts of the world, but I can tell you the C 200 Sedan we get in Australia is made at Mercedes-Benz's East London plant on South Africa's east coast.
The original A5 was penned by a gentleman by the name of Walter de Silva (he of Lamborghini Egoista and Audi R8 fame), who described his car as “the most beautiful I've ever created."
If it ain’t broke, and all that. Audi’s design team has tinkered around the edges of its A5 Coupe, reworking the grille and headlights, and adding bulges to the bonnet and creases to the bodywork, but the family resemblance is clear.
And it works: all wide and low front end, windswept roofline and muscular guards. Inside, too, is a perfectly executed space, at once premium and polished, and with an obvious attention to detail.
The boot, for example in the C 200 is 434 litres, which isn’t as big as the cargo space offered by the BMW 3 Series or the luggage capacity of the Audi A4. This is partly because the hybrid system uses space under the bonnet, so the car’s battery needs to go to the boot.
The C 300 doesn’t use the hybrid system and so the sedan in this grade has 455 litres of boot space.
Choosing the C 300 Coupe’s will reduce your luggage carrying ability to 380 litres and the C 300 Cabriolet’s cargo capacity varies from 360 litres with the roof up and 285 litres when it’s down and eating into the luggage area.
The Estate is the best luggage hauler but it’s still not enormous – the C 43 Estate that we test drove has a cargo capacity of 480 litres.
Legroom in the back of the C 43 Estate is good and at 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position with about 20mm to spare thanks to the sculpted seat back.
Headroom is getting tight in the Estate and especially in the Sedan – well for me, anyway – and the optional sunroof will lower the ceiling height even further.
Up front space in the Sedan and Estate isn’t an issue with plenty of head-, leg- and shoulder room offered.
Storage throughout the Sedan and Estate is good with a large centre console storage bin, two cupholders up front and another two in the back along with a storage area in the fold down armrest, but all four door pockets are on the slimmer side. Still they can fit a small bottle of water, plus a wallet or purse.
That centre console bin houses two USB ports, and a 12-volt outlet can be found in the storage area under the climate controls – which also houses the optional wireless charging pad. Without the charging pad that small area is too tiny to place my iPhone8 Plus.
Rear headroom and legroom in the four-seater Coupe and Cabriolet is limited, but both get a pair of cupholders in the back and two more up front.
It’s a Coupe in the traditional sense of the word, so expect two doors, four seats and some slightly awkward acrobatics if anyone older than a teenager tries to get into the rear seats.
Front and back passengers get a cupholder each, while the rear-seat passengers also score their own air-con controls and a power outlet. Expect two ISOFIX attachment points, one in each window seat in the back.
Boot space is listed at 465 litres (up 10 litres on the previous generation car) and the rear seat is split 40/20/40.
Price and features
The range kicks off with the C 200 and its C 220 d diesel siblings, then steps up to the C 300. Prices for these grades have increased by $1500 in this update but you’re being given more features. Above the C 300 live Mercedes-AMG’s wild animals – the C 43 and C 63 S.
The C 220 d Sedan lists for $64,900 and the only other form it comes in is the Estate for $67,400.
The C 300 Sedan lists for $71,400, the Estate is $73,900, the Coupe is $84,900 and the Cabriolet is $101,900.
The C 43 Sedan lists for $107,900, while the Estate is $110,400, the Coupe is $111,900 and Cabriolet is $124,900.
The C 63 S Sedan lists for $159,900, however, prices for other body styles have not yet been announced.
So, about all the stuff you’re receiving in return for the price increase – a 10.25-inch display screen replaces the smaller one in the previous car and it’s standard across the range. Don’t stab and poke at it like I did with my finger for hours, because it’s not a touchscreen.
Other standard features, starting with the C 200 and C 220 d, include 'Artico' upholstery, which is a synthetic attempt at leather, a reversing camera, shifting paddles, dual-zone climate control, aluminium roof rails on the Estate, LED headlights, 64-colour ambient lighting and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The C 300 has the C 200’s features and adds leather upholstery, privacy glass (coupe only), proximity key and 19-inch alloys. The C 300 also gains the 'Driving Assistance Package' which I’ll tell you all about in the safety section below.
The C 43 picks up the C 300’s equipment and adds an enormous list of its own gear including a new AMG steering wheel, brushed stainless steel pedals, Burmester 13-speaker stereo, heated sports front seats, head-up display, wireless charging, intelligent LED headlights, panoramic sunroof, black roof racks on the Estate, analogue clock and 19-inch AMG alloy wheels.
Metallic paintwork is also part of the C 43’s standard features list which includes 'Obsidian Black', 'Iridium Silver', 'Mojave Silver', 'Cavansite Blue', 'Emerald Green' and 'Brilliant Blue', but you’ll have to pay for 'Hyacinth Red', which is a sort of candy apple red. Non-cost colours for the lower grades are non-metallic black and 'Polar White' non-metallic.
The C 63 S adds to the C 43’s equipment list with its own AMG steering wheel, illuminated door sills, digital TV tuner, nappa leather upholstery, an electronic rear differential lock, 19-inch alloys in matte black with high-sheen rim, plus high-performance brakes with red calipers.
The A5 Coupe range arrives in a single, well-equipped trim level, with how much that will cost you is dependent on what engine you want, and whether you want the power sent to the front wheels, or all four.
The story begins with the 2.0 TFSI S tronic ($69,900), while opting for the diesel-powered 2.0 TDI quattro S tronic will lift the asking price to $73,900. Top of the A5 tree is the 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic ($81,500), which also adds some extra kit.
Engine options aside, the S5 arrives with 18-inch alloys, LED headlights and tail-lights, a nav-equipped 8.3-inch centre screen and Audi’s 12.3-inch virtual cockpit, which replaces the old-school dials you used to find in your driver’s binnacle.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also make the standard features list, along with a 10-speaker stereo and a customisable ambient interior lighting set-up. Leather seats, tri-zone climate control and a boot that opens when you wave your foot under it round out the feature highlights.
Spring for the 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic (catchy name, no?) and your rims grow to 19 inches, your wheel is swapped for the very good flat-bottomed number from the S5, and your wing mirrors earn an auto-dimming function.
Audi has rolled most of its options into easy to understand packages for the A5 Coupe, too. The safety-focussed 'Assistance Package' adds things like AEB, active lane assist and active cruise control, and will add $2470 to the asking price. A 'Technik Package' adds a head-up display, Audi’s Matrix headlights and upgrades the stereo to a Bang and Olufsen unit, and will cost you an extra $5600.
Finally, the S Line Sport or 'Style Pack' will give you a sportier interior and a better-looking exterior, but will cost you $2500 or $3900 for the Style version, and $5900 or $7400 for the Sport version, depending on which model you bought in the first place.
Engine & trans
This isn’t a hybrid with an electric motor driving the wheels, it’s an electrical system which is able to provide an additional 10kW/160Nm when accelerating. Known as the 'EQ Boost', the system also allows the C 200 to coast at a constant speed if the driver takes their foot off the accelerator. The battery is then re-charged when braking.
The C 220 d offers a diesel alternative and its new 2.0-litre engine now makes 18kW more power at 143kW and the same 400Nm of torque.
The C 300’s 2.0-litre turbo four has had a 10kW increase, taking power to 190kW, while peak torque is still 370Nm.
Also getting a power bump is the C 43 and its 3.0-litre V6 petrol is now good for 287kW (up from 270kW) while torque stays at 520Nm. The C43 uses Mercedes-Benz’s '4Matic' all-wheel drive system, while every other grade, including the C 63 S, is rear-wheel drive.
The C 63 S still makes an impressive 375kW and 700Nm.
The C 200, C 220 d, C 300 and C 43 all use the same nine-speed automatic transmission, while the C 63 S uses a ‘AMG Speedshift 9G’ which is a nine-speed dual-clutch auto.
There are three engines on offer in the A5 Coupe, which begins with the entry level 2.0 TFSI S tronic, delivering 140kW/320Nm to the front wheels via the only gearbox in the A5 Coupe family, a seven-speed 'DSG' dual-clutch automatic. That’s enough to see the A5 flash from 0-100km/h in 7.3 seconds on its way to a top speed of 240km/h.
The sole diesel in the line-up arrives with the 2.0 TDI S tronic, which also produces 140kW but sees torque increase to 400Nm and sends its power to all four wheels via the same seven-speed gearbox. The 100km/h sprint is an identical 7.2 seconds, while your top speed drops slightly to 235km.
The baddest of the non S-stamped models is the 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic, which lifts outputs to a healthy 185kW/370Nm, lopping more than a second off the sprint to 100km/h (now 5.8secs), and increasing the top speed to (an electronically limited 250km/h).
Fuel consumption obviously depends on the engine, but did you know the body type also affects mileage?
The C 200 Estate according to Mercedes-Benz will need 6.5L/100km, the C 200 Coupe uses 6.4L/100km and the C 200 Cabriolet will need 6.8L/100km.
The C 220 d Sedan is frugal with diesel fuel consumption being 4.7L/100km, while the Estate version needs 4.8L/100km.
Mercedes-Benz is yet to announce the C300’s fuel consumption figures.
The Mercedes-AMG cars are the thirstiest with the C 43 Sedan using 9.4L/100km, and the Estate will use 9.6L/100km. After 286km of country roads the trip computer in our C 43 Estate was reporting an average consumption of 10.3L/100km. The Coupe economy is 9.5L/100km and the Cabriolet needs 10.0L/100km.
The C 63 S Sedan puts it away at the rate of 10.4L/100km, and the Estate’s usage is 10.7L/100km, while the Coupe and Cabriolet’s fuel efficiency is yet to be announced.
The entry level petrol engine sips a claimed 5.5L/100km for the combined (urban/extra urban) cycle, with C02 emissions pegged at 125g/km. Audi claims the 2.0 TDI engine uses just 4.7L/100km on the same cycle, while emitting 121g/km.
The biggest petrol engine trades its performance for increased fuel use, needing a claimed/combined 6.5L/100km, and emitting 149g/km.
The Australian C-Class launch gave us the opportunity to drive the C 200 Sedan and C 43 Estate on a test route stretching from Melbourne's Tullamarine airport, roughly 300km north to Milawa in Victoria’s alpine region and back, with the conditions being dry and cool.
I knew the C 43 would be ridiculously fun, but you can’t eat your dessert first, right? So, I started in the C 200, which is far from just meat and three veg – it’s refined and enjoyable to drive.
Steering is well weighted and accurate, offering a better sense of connection to the road compared to some of its prestige rivals. The steering wheel itself felt good to hold, too – and this is on the base car.
The test car wasn’t without its options though and it did have the 'Dynamic Body Control Suspension' with its Comfort mode softening the dampers for a more compliant ride and the Sport setting for better handling.
And that ride was comfortable. The only disturbance to the serenity (we did go through Bonnie Doon) was a bit of wind noise created by what sounded like the wing mirrors.
Apart from that, the experience was serene – those seats up front are comfortable and supportive even after hours, the vision all-around is excellent and then there’s the engine, which is perfectly adequate.
Okay, 1.5 litres sounds small but the output is almost the same as the previous 2.0-litre and the 48 Volt EQ Boost hybrid system does provide just enough of a kick to get you away from the traffic lights or overtake without any discernible lag.
The hybrid system's coasting function is excellent – take your foot off the accelerator and your revs drop to zero but the car will maintain its speed. When you brake the battery is recharged so you’ll have the extra grunt again when you need it.
Now for dessert. Just idling the C 43 sounds sedate, but that’s with the exhaust note and engine in the Comfort setting. It means you can pull into your street at night or start it up early in the morning without waking the up the entire neighbourhood.
Or, to hell with them, the people next door are jerks anyway: put it in Sport and the twin-turbo petrol V6 snarls and crackles as you shift through the gears. It’s not as vicious as the V8 C 63 S, but that’s the appeal of the C 43 – it’s a milder form of wild that’s easier to live with, but still so much fun.
The back roads from Milawa to Mansfield were a great testing ground for the C 43 Estate with their hill-climbing bends and downward forest runs. Merc AMG claims the C 43 can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 4.7s, and while that’s more than half-a-second behind the C 63 S, it’s still plenty quick.
With fantastic turn-in, all-wheel drive offering superb traction and great grip from the Continental ContiSportContact rubber (225/40 R19s front, 255/35 R19 at the back), a smooth-shifting nine-speed, impressive brakes and that turbo V6 which pulled the car heroically out of corners, it was hard not to grin like an idiot.
Only my mouth hurt afterwards, not my body. There’s a line you’re not going to read in any other car review. Some sports cars have a ride so firm, and seats so hard, and driving positions with hip points so low, that I almost have to leave the vehicle on all fours.
But only my face hurt from smiling so much – you could pilot a car like the C 43 until it ran out of fuel from a full tank and still feel comfortable – which is almost what we did. How much fuel did it use? Keep reading to find out.
The news is broadly positive right across the range, but we focussed our attention on the top-spec petrol (TFSI S tronic Quattro) which is not just expected to be the biggest seller in the revised A5 Coupe range, but is also by far the closest thing to a happy compromise between the harder S5 and the more sedate and softer entry level models.
With no adaptive suspension anywhere in the A5 family, the standard tune can sail perilously close to uncomfortable on dodgy road surfaces, and it does allow the occasional imperfection to enter the cabin. But it pays off in spades when you find yourself on a twisty road, with the all-wheel drive A5 TFSI S tronic sitting reassuringly flat as you tackle all but the tightest of corners (where it can rock a little as you enter a particularly tight turn). Whether the firm-ish ride becomes a pain on the pockmarked surfaces of the CBD, however, remains to be seen.
The steering in the Quattro isn’t as sharp or direct as it is in the S5 (but it is better than in the front-wheel drive model) and there’s more play on-centre and less precision turning into corners, but away from the back roads and back in the city (where this car will surely spend almost all of its time) that should be a positive, and result in a smooth and composed commuter.
Audi deserves credit for the cabin noise (or lack of it), which is very good, and the razor-thin A-pillar makes forward vision terrific, though the view is predictably less good out the back. It might not be as sharp as the S5, which gets its own unique steering tune and an adaptive damper setup, but the combination of supermodel looks and on-board technology will make it a tempting proposition in the luxe-Coupe market.
The C-Class was awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2014. The base grade C 200 is fitted with nine airbags, AEB which works most effectively at lower speeds, and blind spot warning.
No spare tyres here. The C 200, C 220 d and C 300 all come with run-flat tyres, while the Mercedes-AMG grades have a puncture repair kit.
For child seats, you’ll find two ISOFIX points and three top tethers across the back row of the Sedan and Estates, while the Cabriolet and Coupe have two ISOFIX points in the back.
There are also two hi-viz vests in the cargo area and, yes, you do get a warning triangle, too.
Expect six airbags (dual front, side and curtain), a reversing camera and parking sensors as standard fare, but Audi then ups the ante with a suite of high-tech standard safety gear, including forward collision warning with AEB cross-path assist and a driver fatigue detection system.
The entire A5 range was awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.
The C-Class is covered by Mercedes-Benz’s three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. We’re keen to see Mercedes-Benz move to longer warranty periods as is becoming the norm with mainstream brands, many of which are offering five year coverage.
Servicing is recommended at 25,000km/12-month intervals for the regular C-Class cars and the C 43. The C 63 S needs servicing every 20,000km or annually.
It’s great to see Mercedes-Benz offers capped price servicing. For example, the C 200 will cost you $396 at its first service, the second is $792 and the third is also $792.