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Mercedes-Benz C-Class


Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Summary

Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Australia's relationship status with the Mercedes C-Class has long been… complicated.

Over 40 years and five generations, the German midsized luxury sedan has been a paragon of efficiency and safety on one hand, but on the other, well, the quality and ride comfort haven't lived up to brand expectations.

Now the completely redesigned version has landed in Australia, with shrunken S-Class limousine styling to take on not only the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Genesis G70, but rivals as disparate as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Tesla Model 3.

The question is? Is this latest, sixth-generation, new-from-the-ground-up C-Class good enough to take on all those and more? Let's find out.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7L/100km
Seating5 seats

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

To say Mercedes-AMG is popular in Australia is like saying the young people are fond of Drake, or that football fans seem to appreciate Ronaldo’s skills.

Per head of population we buy more of the three-pointed star’s go-fast specials than any other country on the globe. Typically, between 15 and 20 per cent of all Mercs sold here are of the AMG variety. 

In recent years Mercedes-AMG has broadened its offering to include options slightly less insane that the full-fat, twin-turbo ’63-series’ V8 models sitting at the top of its large car range.

The ‘43’ suffix appeared on C and E Class variants, meaning a 3.0-litre, twin-turbo V6 had been slotted under the bonnet, providing enough grunt for day-to-day enjoyment without the hardcore edge of a big-banger V8.

But the boffins at AMG’s Affalterbach HQ can’t seem to help themselves because the E 43 has been replaced by, you guessed it, the gruntier E 53.

Powered by a 3.0-litre, in-line six-cylinder turbo engine, the 53-series delivers close to 15 per cent more power and a huge dollop of extra torque courtesy of its tricky ‘EQ Boost’ starter/alternator system. 

So, has the civility and relative efficiency of Merc-AMG’s only slightly psycho E Class models been maintained, or has another beast been released? 

Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypeHybrid with Premium Unleaded
Fuel Efficiency8.8L/100km
Seating4 seats

Verdict

Mercedes-Benz C-Class8.3/10

Over five decades, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class has pivoted between mastery and mediocrity, and all-too-often relied on that three-pointed star up front to win over buyers.

Thankfully, the W206 is one is one of the better generations. It's easier on the eye, comfier to travel in, more intuitive to use, safer across the board and a huge improvement to drive. On the evidence of the C200 and C300 launch grades, there's newfound depth and consistency to savour.

Sure, prices have gone up, the C200 could use a bit more power, the steering could benefit from a bit more feel, the odd build-quality glitch made itself heard and there's a fair bit of road noise at times, but overall, the C-Class now deserves to be at the top of your luxury medium sedan shopping list.

Particularly if you can afford to stretch to the rorty C300.


Mercedes-Benz E-Class8/10

The Mercedes-AMG E53 is a supremely refined and satisfying performance/luxury package. For those who want the practicality and style of a high-spec E-Class, with an extra performance boost (but not the full-fat V8 drama) it’s got to be an appealing option. Plus, the high-tech hybrid drivetrain is brilliantly executed and seamless in operation.

Does the E 53 AMG do enough to warrant the hallowed Affalterbach seal of approval? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Design

Mercedes-Benz C-Class9/10

If you're checking out the new C-Class for the first time from the front, you'll probably think… hmm, it looks just like the old one, and that's largely true.

But a side view reveals proportions that have changed significantly, thanks to the more raked windscreen, shorter overhangs and cleaner lines, which give it a slightly smaller S-Class look.

Which is more in fitting with where Mercedes wants to place this car against its 3 Series and A4 competitors.

Additionally, the taillights are split for the first time, allowing for a wider boot aperture since the lid now contains some of the lighting elements.

The shrunken limo looks aren't just the whim of some designer or Mercedes-Benz marketing department copywriter, either.

Underneath is an albeit highly modified version of the latest S-Class' MRA2 platform, which results in the longest (at 4755mm) and widest (at 1820mm) C-Class in the series' 40-year existence, as well as the first with this level of electrification capability.

Height and wheelbase dimensions also see a stretch, by 8mm and 25mm to 1450mm and 2865mm over the previous model respectively, and to the benefit of passenger accommodation.

Speaking of which, get used to this new interior aesthetic and general layout – it's a look that's probably going to filter through to most coming non-EQ-branded Mercedes models over the next few years.

From S to C to future E and A classes and beyond. It's a rare instance of trickle-down economics actually working!


Mercedes-Benz E-Class8/10

Keen car-spotters will pick the E 53 courtesy of its ‘twin-blade’ radiator grille (in silver chrome) with black mesh insert in place of the standard E-Class ‘diamond’ version, and a distinctive ‘A-wing’ front apron design.

AMG-specific side sill panels link the front fascia to a rear treatment including a high-set diffuser panel and quad exhaust tailpipes finished in high-gloss (black) chrome.

The interior doesn’t vary dramatically from other high-end E-Class variants, the biggest differences being grippier, leather-trimmed sports seats, dark ash wood trim on the dash, console and doors, plus an ‘AMG Performance’ steering wheel trimmed in nappa leather.

A twin (12.3-inch) screen ‘Widescreen Cockpit’ media and instrument array includes the ability to scroll through an AMG-specific digital display, scrollable through ‘Classic’, ‘Sporty’ and ‘Progressive’ configurations.

Via the AMG menu it’s also possible to call up read-outs including engine and transmission oil temp, acceleration (longitudinal and lateral), engine outputs, turbo boost pressure, tyre temps and pressures, as well the current vehicle set-up.

Practicality

Mercedes-Benz C-Class8/10

One of the best things about the new C-Class is that it's larger and therefore roomier than before. It's also higher quality, easier to use, more comfortable to sit in and - overall - more of a delight to behold.

In contrast, the old C-Class dash looked and felt like it was designed for a much cheaper car, especially compared to Audi's efforts.

Obviously related to the S-Class this time around, it's clear Tesla provided the inspiration for the twin floating screen look and layout, which are just right in their driver orientation and ease of functionality.

There's never really been anything wrong with Mercedes' old front seats, but these AMG Line items are both sumptuous and bracing, keeping their occupants well located ahead of the clever and thoughtfully laid out dashboard.

The brilliantly high-resolution MBUX multimedia and voice-recognition system now works as it should - intuitively and logically, with the screen menus simple to recognise and easy to use, and most without the need to get lost in confusing sub-menus. Just like BMW has managed for years.

If you want to change the instrumentation design, it's now a couple of clearly marked steps, using handily placed switchgear. The same goes for the superb climate control and audio systems. And the wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connected faultlessly and worked a treat. Effortless see-and-push operation all round, backed by concise and classy graphics.

No more degree in Earth-to-Mercedes comm skills required to master this C-Class interior.

Yet there's just enough old-school Benz features to appeal to brand diehards, from the eternal door-card mounted electric seat controls and column-mounted gear shifter, to the deep centre console and turbine face-level air vents. They meld together beautifully with the advanced tech also on offer, like the optional augmented-reality head-up display with 3D-graphics.

Annoyingly, on one of our test cars, that tradition also extended to a couple of squeaks and rattles, proving that maybe Mercedes hasn't quite conquered all its past quality gremlins. And, like most luxury cars nowadays, endless ambient lighting choices are available of dubious taste.

Never mind. This is the finest C-Class front-seat environment since, well, probably the original W210 190E's of the 1980s.

And all those extra dimensions pay dividends in terms of interior space in the back seat.

There's plenty of knee room even with the tester sat behind their 178cm frame; head room is adequate even with the optional sunroof fitted, and there's ample shoulder space. So, it's more comfortable than any C-Class ever has been in terms of sheer dimensions.

Additionally, the rear backrest is well angled, while the cushion is deep enough to provide sufficient thigh support. But the centre perch is a bit of a squeeze for all concerned. Best avoided.

There's also added practicality to be found with the large and deep door pockets, front seat-back map pockets and folding centre armrest, that not only has a tablet holder, but when pressed in twice, also reveals sliding cupholders as well. Clever.

The C-Class rear seat is really lacking for nothing, with face-level air vents, overhead lighting, grab handles and coat hooks all highlighting the level of thought that went into making this a practical compact family sedan.

Plus, the C-Class comes with this folding ski port, which along with the folding rear seats, increases boot volume from 455L to, well, a lot more. While that's not quite as good as others like the BMW 3 Series, it's big enough for this car.

Note that there is no spare wheel, as the tyres are of the limited-distance runflat variety.


Mercedes-Benz E-Class7/10

Despite availability in sedan, coupe and cabriolet form, the E 53 launch drive program focused exclusively on the coupe and cabrio.

Like all E-Class models the E53 offers plenty of space up front, as well as a generous, lidded console box incorporating multiple USB ports.

A second flip-top section in front of the media controller houses a pair of cupholders, oddments space and a 12-volt power outlet, plus there’s a medium-size glove box, and the doors feature long bins including big bottle holders.

Rear room in the sedan is typically E-Class generous, with three adults across the back seat a genuine option on shorter journeys. 

Adjustable air vents are welcome, and a fold-down armrest houses two cupholders and a lidded bin, with another two USB ports provided. Door pockets incorporate bottle holders and there are map pockets on the front seatbacks.

The sedan’s boot capacity is 540 litres, more than enough to swallow a pram and accompanying baby ‘stuff’, or our three-piece hard suitcase set (35, 68 and 105 litres). And the 40/20/40 split-folding seat back liberates yet more space.

Backseaters (two only) in the coupe and cabrio are well catered for. Legroom is surprisingly substantial, although with the roof up, at 183cm, headroom for me was just adequate. With the cabrio’s roof down however, that improved considerably. Worth noting that sensors in the front seats’ adjustment system stop them from hitting a rear passenger’s knees. Nice.

In terms of storage and convenience, there’s a pair of cupholders between the seats, adjustable air vents, map pockets, and some oddments space near the outside armrests.

Boot capacity in the coupe is 425L and 385L in the cabrio, with the rear seat splitting and folding to offer through-loading space. An electrically controlled, retractable separator in the soft-top’s boot defines the space filled by the roof when folded (which still leaves 310L).

Tyres are run-flat on all variants, so don’t bother looking for a spare of any description.

Price and features

Mercedes-Benz C-Class8/10

Initially, there are two sedan versions of the new W206 series C-Class on offer – the base C200 from $78,900 before on-road costs, and the more-powerful C300 grade from just over $90,400 before ORC.

There's no sugar coating this. These prices represent a shocking $12,000 and $15,100 jump, respectively, over the outgoing W205 equivalents. Which means that, now, even the cheapest C-Class costs significantly more than any of its corresponding direct rivals.

For example, the Audi A4 35TFSI kicks off from $59,900, Volvo S60 B5 Inscription AWD from $62,490, Genesis G70 2.0T from $63,000, Alfa Romeo Giulia Sport from $63,950 and BMW 320i Sport Collection from $69,900 (drive-away). And even the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range (SR) Plus RWD and Polestar 2 SR EVs slip in at under $60K apiece. All before ORCs, BMW-aside.

But the news isn't all bad, because even though prices have jumped, Mercedes reckons it gives you more, as well as the very latest in technology, design and engineering, since the W206 is the newest kid on the block by some margin.

Let's begin with equipment levels.

On top of the front electric seats, satellite navigation, automatic parking, dual-zone climate control, artificial leather Mercedes brands ARTICO, digital radio, remote boot lid closing and 18-inch alloys that the base C200 all came with previously, the new one now adds an AMG Line body kit and interior trim, adaptive cruise control, Lane Keep assist, a 360º camera, auto high-beam headlights and keyless entry/start. These go a long way to offset that $12,000 price hike.

Plus, for the first time, you'll also score a centre airbag between the front seats, fingerprint scanner ID tech for the new 11.9-inch media display and a 48V mild-hybrid system to help cut fuel consumption and emissions. Most of these items are segment-firsts. Note, too, that the engine's been downsized from 2.0 litres to 1.5L. More on that later.

Meanwhile, the C300 gains all of the gear above, as well as a new 2.0L mild-hybrid engine, leather trim, privacy glass and a Driver Assistance Package Plus – a very worthwhile addition since it brings Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function, Active Emergency Stop Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist, among heaps more driver-assist safety features.

More details follow in the Safety section below.

Of course, these are just the start of a wave of fresh C-Class models. Soon they'll be joined by the AMG 43 and thunderous AMG 63 sports sedans, as well as plug-in hybrid versions.

So, from a pricing perspective, yes, the new C-Class sedan does come at a premium compared to its direct competitors. But all that kit – including the advanced hybridised and safety technologies that are now either standard or available – presents a compelling value proposition.

Especially as the W206 sedan is measurably larger and thus roomier than before.


Mercedes-Benz E-Class8/10

Pricing for the Mercedes-AMG E 53 ranges from $167,129 (plus on-road costs) for the sedan, through $172,729 for the coupe, and $181,329 for the cabriolet.

Competitors for the sedan are relatively thick on the ground, with the Audi S6 ($172,600), Lexus GS F ($155,940) and Maserati Ghibli GranSport ($163,990) the most directly aligned on spec and price.

The Coupe is trickier, with the smaller but faster BMW M4 Competition ($154,615), latest-gen Audi RS5 ($156,600), and V8-powered Lexus RC F ($151,929) all undercutting the E 53 by about $20k. 

Then the cabrio is something of an outlier, with the BMW M4 Competition ($165,615) again a smaller but faster and cheaper option. In the hunt for other performance-focused 2+2 convertibles, you’re into the entry-point of Porsche’s 911 line-up with the Carrera Cabriolet ($248,350) representing a close to $70k premium. 

All variants are suitably well equipped. On top of the standard performance and safety tech detailed in later sections, the E 53 is fitted with dual-zone climate control, 13-speaker Burmester audio (including digital radio and Apple CarPlay compatibility), keyless entry and start, nappa leather trim, sports seats, ‘AMG Performance’ (flat bottom) sports steering wheel (also trimmed in nappa leather), adaptive LED headlights (plus active high beam), and 20-inch alloy wheels.

Also included are the Widescreen Cockpit display (twin 12.3-inch screens covering multimedia and instruments as well as ‘Linguatronic’ voice control), sat nav, ambient interior lighting (64 colour options), active cruise, a configurable head-up display, electric front seats (heated with memory), wireless phone charging, wood grain interior trim, electric steering column adjust, rain-sensing wipers, and a panoramic sunroof.

All that stacks up well for a contender in this part of the market. You pay the big bucks, you get all the fruit.

Engine & trans

Mercedes-Benz C-Class8/10

Probably the biggest departure compared to any previous C-Class is this generation's switch to direct-injection four-cylinder-only powertrains – including the coming Mercedes-AMG high-performance versions. Now that should be interesting.

As mentioned earlier, the C200's four-cylinder turbo engine is now about 25 per cent smaller in capacity, down from 2.0L to a 1496cc 1.5L twin-cam 16-valve turbo engine. Dubbed the M254, it pumps out 150kW of power at a high 6100rpm and 300Nm of torque between 1800-4000rpm.

That's not to say it's lacking in muscle, though, since it can sprint from zero to 100km/h in 7.3 seconds, on the way to a 245km/h top speed. These outputs are at least a match for the bigger-engined 3 Series and A4 equivalents, by the way.

If it's more you want, then the C300 features a 1999cc 2.0L turbo version of the M254, delivering 190kW at 5800rpm and 400Nm between 2000-3200rpm. This slashes that 0-100km/h time to a speedy six seconds flat. There's also an extra 20kW of overboost available for short periods if you're really in a hurry, while - where legal - it's possible to hit 250km/h.

Both send drive to the rear wheels via a nine-speed torque-converter automatic transmission, while the 48V mild-hybrid system, dubbed EQ Boost, employs an integrated starter-generator and lithium-ion battery that provides an additional 15kW and 200Nm of electric boost at low engine speeds.

So, while it doesn't ever run purely on electricity, the electrification tech certainly either brings more punch or takes the load off the petrol engine, depending on how you're driving it.


Mercedes-Benz E-Class9/10

Already used in other AMG models, including the entry-level version of the just-released flagship GT 4-Door, the E 53’s (M256) in-line six is a 3.0-litre all-alloy unit featuring direct-injection and a single turbo, supplemented by an electric compressor (turbo if you prefer) which builds up charge pressure prior to the main turbo coming on song. Turbo lag, be gone!

The EQ Boost starter-alternator is housed in an electric motor fitted between the engine and transmission, driving a 48-volt electrical system to support the additional compressor as well as the car’s traditional 12-volt functions (lights, cockpit, multimedia and other control units) through a DC/DC converter.

Maximum torque (520Nm) is available from just 1800rpm all the way to 5800rpm, with peak power (320kW) taking over at 6100rpm. But the EQ Boost’s hybrid party trick is the ability to drop in a brief full-throttle burst of 16kW/250Nm. Whoosh.

Drive goes to all four wheels via a nine-speed dual-clutch auto transmission and an AMG Performance turned version of Merc’s ‘4Matic’ all-wheel drive system, using an electro-mechanical clutch to distribute torque between the permanently driven rear axle and variably driven front axle.

Fuel consumption

Mercedes-Benz C-Class8/10

Remember when I said that the C-Class moved to an all-four-cylinder engine range? Well, that's primarily to help it better meet fuel consumption, efficiency and lower emission targets.

On the Australian combined fuel consumption cycle, the C200 manages 6.9 litres per 100km – and that's extremely impressive for a medium-sized sedan weighing almost 1.8 tonnes. So is the fact that the larger-engined C300 returns only 0.4L/100km more at 7.3L/100km. Fitted with a 66-litre tank, these numbers suggest that the former can average nearly 960km between refills while the latter can manage just over 900km.

These figures translate to averages of 157 and 164 grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide emissions respectively. On the flipside, both these Euro-6 emissions rated engines require 98 RON premium unleaded petrol to deliver their best.

So much for lab tests. Out in the real world, we drove both cars for several hundred kilometres on a hot summer's day, from inner Melbourne during peak-hour traffic, to some great curvy rounds out in central Victoria, featuring some tight corners and ample opportunity to really stretch both cars' legs.

Over these routes, we averaged an indicated 8.4L/100km in the C200 and – astonishingly – 7.4L/100km in the C300. Yes, the larger and more powerful engine proved more economical.

Clearly, along with the advanced aerodynamics, engine stop/start system and 48V mild-hybrid tech, all that downsizing works. No wonder Mercedes deemed it unnecessary to bother with diesel engines for this generation C-Class.


Mercedes-Benz E-Class8/10

Claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is line-ball for sedan (8.7L/100km), coupe (8.8L/100km), and cabriolet (9.0L/100km) variants, emitting 199, 200, and 204g/km of CO2 respectively in the process.

Start-stop is standard, minimum fuel requirement is 95RON premium unleaded, and you’ll need 66 litres of it to fill the tank.

Driving

Mercedes-Benz C-Class9/10

There has been a philosophical shift in how the C-Class is presented.

Even with their standard-in-Australia AMG Line package, the regular grades like the C200 and C300 are now leaning into the brand's luxury heritage, while the BMW-baiting sports sedan versions will be left to the coming AMG versions.

And this in turn profoundly informs how the W206 drives.

Even with the optional Sports Pack on 19-inch wheels, the C200 as tested finally feels like a premium midsized sedan experience. Muted at start up, the 150kW/300Nm 1.5L turbo steps off the line smartly and smoothly, its nine-speed auto shifting effortlessly through the gears to keep the engine feeling lively and lusty.

Around town it's easy to mistake the engine as a larger-capacity unit, since throttle response is instantaneous, with little to no lag detectable. It's a strong start for a base powertrain, especially as the C200 settles into a relaxed cruise at freeway speeds. Cycling through the driving settings also reveals how feisty the 'Sport' mode is.

But the 1.5L's lack of size becomes obvious the moment you need to overtake quickly, or when a quick squirt of acceleration up a hill is required, because the engine needs plenty of revs to approach that 6100rpm power peak. While still pretty brisk in these situations, it's also fairly vocal too, with a sense of having to work hard to maintain momentum.

Switching to the C300 highlights how much better suited the 190kW/400Nm 2.0L turbo is to highway driving, leaping forward with much more force and conviction, across the entire performance spectrum. In every metric, this is a better choice – throttle response, mechanical refinement, cruising ease. And the fact that the onboard computer showed less fuel consumption cements our preference for the larger-hearted C-Class.

In fact, both models possess a chassis that feels like it could do with a whole lot more power. Light and tight around town, the steering weighs up nicely at higher speeds, with a linear and reassuringly planted feel. The same also applies to how confident and controlled the Mercedes feels through fast, tight turns, yet settles into a relaxed and comfortable tourer along long, straight stretches of road.

It's a pity, then, that such dynamic agility and prowess doesn't really involve the driver, since the steering feels quite isolated from what's going on underneath; for the vast majority of C-Class buyers, that's fine. But, as a quick spin in any latest BMW 3 Series or Jaguar XE will reveal, there isn't an intimate, two-way connection going on here. That's probably going to be reserved for the AMG models.

Our C200 rode on bigger wheels and steel springs, while the C300 was fitted with optional adaptive dampers. In the previous-generation C-Class, the differences would be stark: a busy and jittery ride in the former, compared to soft yet still unsettled suspension in the latter.

That's all ancient history now, as even the 'passively' suspended C200 now isolates its occupants from the rough and tumble of our inconsistent roads. Still firmish, but no longer harsh.

And the C300 with adaptive dampers seems downright plush by comparison, while offering the driver personalisation options within the aforementioned driving models to tailor the steering, performance and engine sound settings that best suit the prevailing mood.

Too bad there's some road and tyre noise intrusion heard inside when driving over coarse bitumen roads. This is a common pitfall amongst German vehicles in Australia.

Still, it doesn't detract from the fact that the whole chassis set-up can at-last cushion and cosset occupants like, well, a mini S-Class.

Which is the whole point of the W206 C-Class. It now majors on comfort and reassurance like the better Mercedes-Benz models used to, while still being suave and sprightly enough to be a memorable – if not over-exciting – drive.

As a result, the C300 especially is a much-more likeable car than past iterations. Just remember to tick the adaptive damper option for the most optimal experience. Job well done, Mercedes.


Mercedes-Benz E-Class8/10

It only takes a few kilometres behind the wheel of the Mercedes-AMG E 53 to recognise that it fulfils its job description pretty well.

With claimed 0-100km/h acceleration sitting in the mid-4.0sec zone (coupe 4.4sec, sedan/cabrio 4.5sec) it’s fast, but not brutal. It growls without rising to the full-blown roar that’s become the aural signature of the current 63-series AMG V8s.

But don’t take that to mean meek and mild. It’s properly rapid and the sports exhaust, particularly with the drivetrain mapped to the ‘Dynamic Select’ system’s ‘Sport+’ mode leaves you (and everyone in a 200-metre radius) in no doubt that you’re driving something special.

Dynamic Select allows individual calibration of the engine, transmission, suspension and steering. Around town with everything dialled in to ‘Comfort’ the E 53 is as refined and compliant as any other high-spec E-Class. 

Despite the standard 20-inch rims shod with low-profile run-flat rubber (245/35 front, 275/30 rear) the ‘AMG Ride Control’ adaptive damping combines with the overall air suspension system to provide excellent ride comfort.

Find a twisting B-road and push into ‘Sport’ or Sport+’ mode and the car’s character changes distinctly. All 520Nm of maximum torque is available from just 1800rpm right up to 5800rpm. And while that’s plenty, pin the throttle and an additional 250Nm (and 16kW), courtesy of the EQ Boost hybrid system joins the party.

Press on and as peak power (320kW) takes over at 6100rpm you’ll notice the horizon is approaching rapidly. The additional electric compressor means power delivery is beautifully linear, and the hybrid boost is undetectable.

The nine-speed dual-clutch auto is as smooth at parking speeds as it is at maximum attack. Manual changes (up and down) are rapid and positive, accompanied by entertaining blips and bangs from the exhaust in the more aggressive drive modes. 

The coupe is the lightweight of the trio, weighing in at 1895kg, with the sedan and cabrio sending the needle roughly 100kg further to the right. But despite that not insubstantial kerb weight, and the all-wheel drive set-up, all feel light and nimble for their size.

While the variable steering adjusts seamlessly as lateral forces increase, no matter which mode is selected, road feel is modest at best. But the AWD system shuffles drive to the right wheel without fuss and power down out of quick corners is satisfyingly solid.

With all this performance, on-tap braking is critical, and the standard set-up is perforated and internally ventilated discs all around (370mm front, 360mm rear) clamped by four piston calipers at the front and single piston floating calipers at the rear. After an ‘enthusiastic’ session on the launch drive they remained progressive and strong.

The multi-adjustable sports front seats are comfy when they need to be, and with the side bolsters adjusted inwards, secure and grippy as G-force builds. Top-notch ergonomics complement this satisfying and well resolved dynamic package.

Safety

Mercedes-Benz C-Class9/10

The W206 C-Class has not been crash-tested yet by ANCAP or European affiliate EuroNCAP, so does not have a star rating. However, Mercedes-Benz claims it has striven to create one of the safety vehicles on the planet.

To that end, there are now 10 airbags fitted, including dual-front combined pelvic/thorax airbags, front centre airbag, rear side airbags, window airbags and driver's knee airbag.

Plus, you'll find Autonomous Emergency Braking front and rear (including for cyclists and pedestrians, at speeds from 7km/h to over 200km/h), adaptive cruise control with active stop/go, a 360 degree camera, Active Parking Assist, drowsy driver monitor, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Assist, ABS anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist, Adaptive Brakes with Hold function, brake drying and Hill Start Assist, electronic stability control, traction control, dusk-sensing LED lights, rain-sensing wipers and runflat tyres with tyre pressure warning.

The C300, meanwhile, adds Driving Assistance Package Plus, with features such as Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function, Active Emergency Stop Assist, Active Lane Change Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Steering Assist, and Active Stop-and-Go Assist… basically, this is where the car actually intervenes to help avoid accidents and impacts. There's also the PRE-SAFE side accident anticipation and protection system.

Both models also feature two ISOFIX child seat restraints as well as three top tethers for straps.


Mercedes-Benz E-Class9/10

You’d expect any current passenger model wearing the three-pointed star to be on the leading edge in terms of active and passive safety, and the E Class range scored a maximum five ANCAP stars when it was assessed in late 2016.

The E 53’s crash avoidance tech includes ABS, EBD, brake assist, AEB, ESC, traction control, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, fatigue detection, a surround camera system, tyre pressure monitoring, and traffic sign recognition.

And if a crash is unavoidable all models feature dual front and dual front side airbags, a knee airbag for the driver, plus full-length curtain airbags… even a first-aid kit.

The sedan features three top tether points and two ISOFIX child restraint anchor positions across the back seat, with a two-and-two count in the coupe and cabrio.

Ownership

Mercedes-Benz C-Class7/10

Kudos to Mercedes-Benz for being the first luxury manufacturer in Australia to offer a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty – matching most other mainstream makers. Lexus and Audi have only recently followed suit.

A five-year roadside assistance subscription is also included. Service intervals are 12-monthly or at every 25,000km, whichever occur first.

Additionally, a four-year capped price service plan is available, at $550 for the first year, $900 for the second, $1000 for the third and $2450 for the fourth, totalling $4900.

Alternatively, buyers can also choose three pre-purchase service plans to save a bit of money, but these must be bought prior to the first service.


Mercedes-Benz E-Class7/10

Mercedes-Benz offers a three-year/unlimited km warranty, with 24-hour roadside assist included for the duration. Not exactly leading edge when you think about Kia at seven years/unlimited km and Tesla’s eight-year/160,000km cover.

Scheduled maintenance for the E 53 is set at 12 months/25,000km, and service plans are offered at silver and platinum levels for up to five years/100,000km.