Mercedes-Benz C-Class VS Audi RS6
- 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
- It's a high-performance wagon
- Outstanding fit and finish
- Even more torque
- More angular styling
- Rear legroom could be better
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|
The Audi RS 6 Avant is sacred ground for car geeks. See, we might barely agree on much in terms of what the ultimate driver's cars are but there are certain vehicles that are so awe inspiring they’re almost a protected species in our world, and the Audi RS Avant is one of them.
If you’re new to this idea and have only just stumbled onto the RS 6 Avant, then welcome. You’re just in time because the new-generation RS 6 Avant has arrived.
You only need to know three things at this point. The first is, an RS 6 is a high-performance version of the A6. The second is, Avant is Audi speak for wagon. And the third is, no you can’t get it in a sedan. The next best thing though is the RS 7 Sportback which shares the RS 6 Avant's engineering and features.
If this isn’t your first RS 6 Avant rodeo, then you’ll want to know what’s new and if this new one lives up to the legendary reputation.
|Engine Type||4.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Hybrid with Premium Unleaded|
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.
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.
There’s something beautiful about the design of fast wagons, regardless of the brand. It’s that performance meets practicality combination, but Audi really is the master of it.
Audi doesn’t just take an A6, add big wheels and then shout, “let’s hit the showers!” Well, the wheels are definitely large, but there are only four body panels shared between the A6 Avant and RS 6 Avant – the roof, front doors and the tailgate. The rest of the panels are unique to the RS 6.
Look at those flared wheel guards – they extend out 20mm more than a regular A6’s.
This new-generation RS 6 Avant shares the same face as the RS 7 Sportback with the broad black mesh grille, narrow headlights, gigantic side air intakes and a thin upper air inlet which is a hat tip to early racing Audis.
All those sharp edges match its body which is more angular and ‘shredded’ than the previous generation’s curvy shape. Add the 22-inch alloys, plus the huge oval tailpipes (set into that chunky diffuser framed by the aluminum trim) and this RS 6 Avant is verging on Hot Wheels territory.
While the eight-year old kid in me thinks that’s awesome, the grown up me reckons it’s a bit too much. Historically, part of the appeal of the RS 6 Avant was its restrained styling – the thug in a suit.
While RS 6 Avant’s exterior is different to a regular A6’s their interior designs are almost identical. It’s a stunning cabin dominated by a dash which protrudes back towards the passengers and houses the media screen.
Anther display for climate is set into the big centre console which divides the driver and co-pilot into almost cocooned cells.
The cabin isn’t without its RS touches though. There’s the sports seats with honeycomb stitching, fully digital instrument cluster with RS specific meters, the RS steering wheel, aluminium inlays, plus Nappa leather on the dashboard and doors. The level of fit and finish is up there with the best that I’ve seen on any production car.
The RS 6 Avant is 4995mm long, 1487mm tall and 1951mm across, for a wide planted stance.
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.
Sure, the RS 6 has supercar acceleration but it’s also a large station wagon. So, it’s super practical, too, right?
Well not as much as you might think. See it’s not the most spacious of wagons. Up front the stepped dash protrudes into the passenger’s space, the door pockets are thin and the centre console storage under the armrest is small.
Legroom in the back could also be better – at 191cm (6'3") tall I can only just fit behind my driving position, although headroom is good. The door pockets in the rear are larger and there are two cupholders in the fold-down centre armrest (another two up front).
The boot’s 565-litre cargo capacity isn’t bad and almost matches the Alpina B5 Touring’s 570 litres.
For phones there’s a wireless charger and two USB ports in the centre console storage box, while back seat passengers have two USB ports and a 12V outlet. There are also directional air vents and dual-zone climate control in the rear, too.
While the RS 6 seats five, the middle passenger in the second row will have to straddle the hump over the drive shaft.
While wagons have lower load lips to their boots making them easier to fill with luggage or shopping bags, SUVs are easier on the back when it comes to loading children into car seats.
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 Audi RS 6 Avant lists for $216,000. That might sound like a lot of money but to put it in perspective, when the RS 6 Avant was first introduced to Australia in 2003 it was $220K.
Coming standard are the enormous 22-inch alloy wheels, matrix LED headlights with laser lights, metallic paint, a panoramic glass sunroof (which is new to the model), privacy glass, a head-up display, soft-close doors and red brake calipers.
Inside there’s the Bang & Olufsen 16-speaker sound system (that's new, too), sat nav, the 12.3-inch 'virtual instrument cluster', wireless Apple CarPlay (new, as well), wireless charging, full leather upholstery with RS sport front seats that are heated and now come with ventilation as standard, and four-zone climate control.
I’ve left off all the standard RS mechanical equipment, but I’ll cover that in the driving section below.
Is it good value? Well, its direct rival is the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Estate, but that’s not sold in Australia, the nearest to this is the C 63 S Estate for $170K. And while BMW hasn’t made an M5 Touring since 2010 there is the Alpina B5 Touring which lists for $217,000. I’ve tested the sedan version and it’s astonishingly quick and super comfortable. Alternatively, there’s the Porsche Panamera 4 Sport Turismo for $236,300.
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.
Remember this moment in human existence: a time when you can buy a family car with a 441kW/800Nm twin-turbo petrol 4.0-litre V8. Yup, the electric future is coming and it’ll be great from what I’ve experience so far, but it’s clear engines like the V8 in the RS 6 Avant won’t be around forever so you should enjoy it while you can.
And you will enjoy it – this engine with almost 600 horsepower is glorious. There’s the seemingly never-ending acceleration with 0-100km/h coming in 3.6 seconds. That’s a tenth of a second faster than the Audi R8 V10 RWD supercar, and this is a large, family wagon.
Compared to the previous generation model the power is down by 4.0kW but torque is up by a whopping 100Nm. Give me torque over power any day.
Shifting gears is an eight-speed automatic transmission, sending the drive to all four wheels.
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.
This is a large, all-wheel drive car with a 441kW V8, but it also has a mild hybrid system in this new generation which will switch the engine off and let the car coast down hills, or at speeds under 22km/h.
Audi says this can save up to 0.8L/100km in real-life driving. That’s great news, but consumption is still fairly high with Audi claiming that after a combination of open and urban roads the RS 6 Avant will have used 11.7L/100km.
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.
I’ve never driven the bullet train before, but it probably feels (almost) as good as this.
Eight hundred newton metres lay curled up under that accelerator pedal ready to push the planet backwards. And waiting to catch you at the other end are enormous anchors in the form of 420mm discs at the front with 10 piston calipers and 370mm discs at the rear.
The optional carbon ceramic brakes are the largest ever to be fitted to a production vehicle at 440mm at the front and 370mm at the rear, saving 34kg in mass over the steel brakes.
Now standard for the first time is Audi’s 'Dynamic Package' which adds dynamic steering (variable ratio) paired with all-wheel steering, a sport differential, and a 280km/h top speed.
Coming standard is adaptive air suspension and for $2850 you can option the 'Dynamic Ride Control' suspension which is a hydraulically activated adaptive damper system.
Explore the virtual Audi RS6
At the Australian launch Audi supplied two RS 6 Avants – one with the air suspension and the other with the dynamic ride control system. I’m probably supposed to say that the optional hydraulic dampers are the pick, but the air suspension suits this luxury freight train so much better.
I’d already driven the car with the dynamic ride control, and while it felt sharper and firmer, it’s ride was a tad uncomposed, almost as though the car was oversprung.
The RS 6 Avant with the standard air suspension on the other hand was not only far more comfortable and settled, but was still superbly dynamically, for a five-metre long car.
Unless you were planning on attending regular track days, in which case the Dynamic Ride Control is the way to go, I’d stick with the standard air suspension which is far more comfortable over Australia’s less-than perfect roads.
Another thing I can say is that this RS 6 Avant is quieter than the previous generation. Even with the windows down and with Dynamic drive mode selected its exhaust note, while still glorious and deep, isn’t raucous and loud. Sound aside, this superwagon is as much a hi-po monster as ever.
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.
ANCAP tested the A6 in 2019 and gave it the maximum five-star score, however, this rating does not apply to the RS 6 Avant high performance model.
That said, the RS 6 Avant comes fortified with nearly every piece of advanced safety tech there is in Audi’s cupboard. There's AEB which can detect and brake for cyclists and pedestrians at speeds between five-85km/h and vehicles up to 250km/h.
Not a fan of parking, the RS 6 can do it by itself or there’s a 360-degree camera that’ll help you do it yourself. There’s an exit warning system which will warn you if a vehicle is approaching as you go to get out, too.
And if the RS 6 Avant detects that it will be hit from behind it will prepare the cabin by tensioning the seatbelts and closing the windows, as well as the sunroof.
Along with all that there are Audi’s new Matrix LED headlights with laser lights, rain-sensing wipers and adaptive cruise control.
For child seats you’ll find three top tether points and two ISOFIX mounts across the second row.
There’s no spare wheel – instead, there’s a tyre repair kit.
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.
The RS 6 Avant is covered by Audi’s three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty which not only falls behind in duration compared to mainstream brands but also its direct rival Mercedes-Benz which now has five-year, unlimited kilometre coverage.
Service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km with a three-year plan costing $2380 and a five-year plan for $3910.