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Mercedes-Benz C-Class


Rolls-Royce Ghost

Summary

Mercedes-Benz C-Class

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.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.5L turbo
Fuel TypeHybrid with Premium Unleaded
Fuel Efficiency6.4L/100km
Seating5 seats

Rolls-Royce Ghost

Rolls-Royce says its out-going Ghost is the most successful model in the company’s 116-year history. 

No bad, when you consider the first ‘Goodwood’ Ghost has ‘only’ been around since 2009. And although the factory isn’t quoting specific numbers, that all-time best-seller claim means it’s surpassed the more than 30,000 Silver Shadows produced from 1965 all the way through to 1980.

Unlike the brand’s Phantom flagship, the Ghost is designed for owners who want to drive, as well as be driven. The aim is a less conspicuous, more engaging experience, and according to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars CEO, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, development of this new generation Ghost involved a lot of listening. 

He says a team of “Luxury Intelligence Specialists” connected with Ghost owners around the globe to gain a clearer understanding of their likes and dislikes. And the result is this car.

While its predecessor’s engineering DNA included more than a few strands of BMW 7 Series (BMW owns Rolls-Royce), this all-new car stands alone on an all-RR alloy platform also underpinning the Cullinan SUV and Phantom flagship.

The factory claims the only parts carried over from the prior model are the ’Spirit of Ecstasy’ ornament on the nose, and the umbrellas slipped into the doors (the holders for them are heated, by the way).

We were offered the opportunity to slip behind the wheel for a day, and the experience was a revelation.

Safety rating
Engine Type6.6L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency14.3L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Mercedes-Benz C-Class7.9/10

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.


Rolls-Royce Ghost8.5/10

You might see it as an obscene indulgence or a piece of engineering excellence, but there’s no denying the new Rolls-Royce Ghost is exceptional. Incredibly refined and capable, it’s arguably the most impressive ‘entry-level’ car in the world. 

Design

Mercedes-Benz C-Class8/10

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.

The C-Class comes in four body styles: Sedan, Coupe, Estate (wagon) and Cabriolet.

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.


Rolls-Royce Ghost9/10

Rolls-Royce adopted what it calls a ‘post-opulent’ philosophy in development of the new Ghost’s design. Specifically, restraint, “rejecting superficial expressions of wealth.”

That’s because, as a rule, Ghost customers aren’t Phantom customers. They don’t want to make that big a statement, and prefer to drive the car as much as they might be chauffeured in it.

This Ghost is longer (+89mm) and wider (+30mm) than the outgoing model, yet it’s a superbly balanced shape, with minimalism the guiding design principle. 

That said, the iconic ‘Pantheon Grille’ is bigger, and now downlit by 20 LEDs under the top of the radiator, with its individual slats polished even more carefully to subtly reflect the light. 

The car’s broad surfaces are tightly wrapped and deceptively simple. For example, the rear guards, C-pillars and roof are fabricated as one panel, which makes sense of the absence of shutlines around the rear of the car (except for the boot outline, of course).

Rolls-Royce refers to the Ghost’s cabin as an ‘interior suite’ consisting of no less than 338 individual panels. But despite that number, the feeling inside is simple and serene.

In fact, Rolls says its acoustic engineers are experts in serenity. Sounds like Darryl Kerrigan needs a Ghost for the family road trip to Bonnie Doon.

A few details stand out. The open pore wood trim is a welcome, tactile change from highly finished veneers that often do their best to look like plastic.

The proper metal chromed trim elements around the cabin confidently say quality and solidity, and the steering wheel, as well as the buttons around the multimedia controllers are subtle throwbacks.

The wheel has a circular central pad, with ancillary buttons around its lower perimeter, which echoes the style of the 1920s and ‘30s. You half expect an ignition advance/retard lever to sprout from its centre.

And the buttons around the media controllers use a combination of shape, colour and typeface to conjure up thoughts of the same era. They could be made of Bakelite.

For those that way inclined, the signature ‘Starlight Headliner’, using untold LEDS to create a glittering night sky in the roof, now incorporates a shooting star effect. You can even option up the constellation of your choice.

Practicality

Mercedes-Benz C-Class7/10

This depends on the body style, but being a mid-sized car practicality can be limited, but Mercedes-Benz has been clever with the way it has used the available space.

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.


Rolls-Royce Ghost9/10

The new Rolls-Royce Ghost is over 5.5m long, more than 2.1m wide, and close to 1.6m tall. And within that substantial footprint sits a 3295mm wheelbase, so no surprise utility and practicality are exceptional.

First, there’s getting in. The ‘coach’ or ‘clamshell’ doors will be familiar to current Ghost owners, but their “effortless” operation is new, a gentle pull on the door handle bringing welcome electronic assistance.

Once inside the rear of the car, as on the previous model, the press of a C-pillar-mounted button will close the door.   

But up front, easing onto the generous driver’s seat is a breeze thanks to the Ghost’s sheer scale and a large door aperture. 

There’s plenty of space for people and things in a thoroughly considered layout. A large glove box, big centre storage box (containing every connectivity option known to humankind) a lined slot for your phone and twin cupholders under a sliding timber cover. The door pockets are generous, with a sculpted section for bottles. 

Then the rear. Obviously designed for two, the back seat will seat three. The sumptuous full-leather seats are multi-way electronically-adjustable, and NBA players (almost certainly prospective owners) will be happy with the leg, head and shoulder room provided.

Need even more room in the back? Step this way to the ‘Extended’ long-wheelbase version of the Ghost, measuring 5716mm long (+170mm), with a 3465mm wheelbase (+170mm), and stepping up in price to $740,000 (+$112,000). That’s $659 per additional millimetre, but who’s counting?

But back to the rear of the standard wheelbase car. Fold the large centre armrest down and twin cupholders pop out the front. Then, a wood-trimmed lid on the top flips forward to reveal a rotary multimedia controller.

Behind that, a beautifully trimmed storage box offers generous space and 12V power, and behind door number three (a pull-down leather panel in the back of the armrest aperture) is a small fridge. What else?

The rear of the front centre console houses individual climate-control outlets as well as USB and HDMI sockets.

Touch a discreet chrome button and small desks (RR calls them picnic tables) fold down from the front seat backs, faced in the same open pore wood as the dash, console, steering wheel, and door trims, and finished off with flawless chrome.

The entire interior benefits from a ‘Micro-Environment Purification System’ (MEPS), and rather than bore you with the details, let’s just say it’s exceptionally efficient. 

Boot volume is a solid 500 litres, with an electrically-assisted lid and plush carpet lining. Of course, the air suspension system can lower the car to make loading heavy or awkward objects that little bit easier.

Price and features

Mercedes-Benz C-Class8/10

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 200 Sedan now lists for $63,400 (plus on-road costs), and if you want the Estate version add another $2500, and an extra $4500 for the Coupe, while the Cabriolet is $25,000 more at $88,400.

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.

Also new is the 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster, and it’s standard on all grades, too. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come on all C-Class cars.

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.


Rolls-Royce Ghost10/10

Good value is open to broad interpretation in this rarefied part of the new car market. On the surface, value could relate to standard equipment; the features that make life with a car safer, more comfortable, and efficient.

It might also have you lining up the competitors, to determine how much sheet metal, rubber and glass you’re getting for your money. Maybe a Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, or Bentley Flying Spur?

But peel away those layers and you’re getting closer to the heart of the Rolls-Royce value equation. 

A Rolls-Royce is a statement of wealth, confirmation of status, and indicator of success. And that will be enough for some. But it also delivers value to those who appreciate the last few percentage points of creativity and effort that deliver exceptional results.

Sounds like a bit of a gush. But once you dip into the background of this car’s development and experience it first-hand, it’s hard not to.

We could produce a separate story on the Ghost’s standard features, but here’s the highlights reel. Included are: LED and laser headlights, 21-inch twin-spoke (part-polished) alloy wheels, electrically-adjustable, ventilated and massaging seats (front and rear), an 18-speaker audio system, electrically-assisted ‘Effortless Doors’, a head-up display, full leather trim (it’s everywhere), multiple digital screens, active cruise control, adaptive air suspension, and there’s lots more.

But let’s pick a few of those out for closer inspection. The audio system is designed and produced in house, featuring a 1300W amp and 18-channels (one for each RR built speaker). 

In fact, there’s a team dedicated to audio performance, and it’s made the entire car an acoustic instrument, calibrating resonance through its structure to optimise clarity. Not the work of five minutes, requiring complex collaboration with the design and engineering teams, not to mention the bean counters.

And yes, there’s leather everywhere, but it’s of the highest quality, analysed to (literally) a granular level to ensure it makes the cut for use in this car. Even the stitching is set to a particular (longer than typical) length to minimise visual noise.

How about RR personnel travelling the globe to measure rain drops to make sure the roof rain channels perform as well as they can (true story). Or the 850 LED ‘stars’ in the dash fascia, backed by a 2.0mm thick ‘light guide’ with 90,000 laser-etched dots to disperse light evenly, yet add a twinkle.

You get the idea. And as much as they say, ‘If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it’, the cost-of-entry for a 2021 Ghost, before any options or on-road costs, is $628,000.

Depending on your perspective, a stupendous sum that will by 42.7 entry-level Kia Picantos, a car every bit as capable of transporting you from A to B as the Ghost. Or alternately, brilliant value, in that it buys the ultimate attention to detail applied to this car’s design, development and execution. You be the judge, but for what it’s worth, I’m in the latter camp.

Engine & trans

Mercedes-Benz C-Class9/10

The previous C 200’s 2.0-litre 135kW/300Nm four-cylinder petrol engine has been swapped for a 135kW/280Nm 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol with what Benz calls a ‘mild hybrid’ function.

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.


Rolls-Royce Ghost9/10

The new Ghost is powered by an all-alloy, direct-injection, 6.75-litre, twin-turbo V12 (also used in the Cullinan SUV) producing 420kW (563hp) at 5000rpm, and 850Nm at 1600rpm.

The ‘six-and-three-quarter-litre’ V12 has a distant link to BMW’s ‘N74’ engine, but Rolls-Royce is at pains to point out this unit stands on its own two feet, and that every piece of it bears a RR part number. 

It runs a Ghost-specific engine map, and permanently drives all four wheels through a GPS-guided eight-speed automatic transmission.

That’s right, the GPS link will pre-select the most appropriate gear for upcoming bends and terrain with the aim of producing “a sense of one endless gear.” More on that later.

Fuel consumption

Mercedes-Benz C-Class8/10

Fuel consumption obviously depends on the engine, but did you know the body type also affects mileage?

Mercedes-Benz says the C 200 Sedan uses 6.4L/100km over a combination of open and urban roads. The trip computer in our C 200 Sedan recorded 7.1L/100km after 254km of mainly country roads.

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.


Rolls-Royce Ghost6/10

Rolls is currently quoting European Regulation (NEDC) fuel consumption numbers for the new Ghost, which for the combined (urban/extra-urban) cycle is 15.0L/100km, the big V12 emitting 343g/km of CO2 in the process.

On the launch drive, covering around 100km of urban pottering, B-road cornering, and freeway cruising, we saw a dash-indicated figure of 18.4L/100km. 

Premium 95 RON unleaded fuel is recommended, but if circumstances (presumably in the back-of-beyond) demand it, standard 91 unleaded is usable. 

Whichever you choose, you’ll need no less than 82 litres of it to fill the tank, at our average fuel use, enough for a theoretical range of 445km.

Driving

Mercedes-Benz C-Class8/10

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.


Rolls-Royce Ghost9/10

So, if this Rolls is designed to be driven, what’s it like behind the wheel? Well for a start, it’s plush. As in, the front seats are big and comfortable, but surprisingly supportive and endlessly adjustable.

The digital instrument cluster tips its hat to classic RR dials, and despite thick pillars (especially the bulky B-pillars) vision all around is good.

And if you’re thinking 2553kg is a lot of Ghost to get moving, you’re right. But there’s nothing like applying 420kW/850Nm of twin-turbo V12 muscle to the task.

Peak torque is available from just 1600rpm (600rpm above idle) and Rolls-Royce claims 0-100km/h in 4.8sec. Plant the right foot and this car will calmly have you at throw-away-the-key speeds in the blink of an eye, the eight-speed auto shifting imperceptibly all the way. And even at full throttle, engine noise is relatively subtle.

But aside from that prodigious thrust, the next eye-opener is unbelievable ride quality. Rolls calls it ‘Magic Carpet Ride’, and it’s no exaggeration.

The bumpy road surface disappearing under the front wheels just doesn’t compute with the unruffled, perfectly smooth progress you’re experiencing. It is unbelievable.

I’ve only had that sensation once before, behind the wheel of a Bentley Mulsanne, but this was possibly even more surreal.

Rolls-Royce’s ‘Planar’ suspension system refers to, “a geometric plane which is completely flat and level”, and it works.

The set-up is double wishbones at the front (incorporating a unique to RR upper wishbone damper) and a five-link arrangement at the rear. But it’s the air suspension and active damping that create the magic Rolls calls “flight on land.”

A ‘Flagbearer’ stereo camera system in the windscreen reads the road ahead to proactively adjust the suspension up to 100km/h. It’s name recalls the early days of ‘motoring’ where a person waving a red flag walked in front of cars to warn unwary pedestrians. This slightly more sophisticated approach is just as arresting.

This time around the Ghost is all-wheel drive (rather than RWD) and it puts its power down brilliantly well. We dared to push it fairly aggressively on a twisting B-road section and all four fat Pirelli P Zero tyres (255/40 x 21) kept things on track without so much as a squeal.

A 50/50 weight distribution and the stiffness of the car’s aluminium space-frame architecture help keep it balanced, planted and under control. But on the flip side, steering feel is almost completely MIA. Numb and overly light, it’s the missing link in the Ghost’s otherwise impressive dynamic performance.

Drop into a freeway cruise and you become aware of the impossibly low noise level. But it’s not as quiet as it could be. Rolls says it’s able to achieve near silence, but adds that becomes disorienting, so it introduced an ambient “whisper”... “a single, subtle note.” 

To achieve this level of calm the bulkhead and floor have been double-skinned, interior components are tuned to a specific resonance frequency, and there’s 100kg worth of acoustic damping materials within nearly half the architecture of the car, in the doors, roof, double-glazed windows, even inside the tyres.

The four-wheel steering system helps with agility on the highway (where the front and rear axles steer in unison), but comes into its own at parking speeds (where they counter-steer), because even with numerous cameras and sensors, parking this 5.5m long, 2.5-tonne machine is quite an undertaking. Turning circle is still 13.0m, though, so beware. If all else fails, the car will park itself, anyway.

Beefy ventilated disc brakes front and rear wash off speed progressively and without a hint of drama.

Other highlights? The multimedia system is the only thing openly borrowed from BMW, but that’s not a problem because the interface is great. And that 1300W, 18-speaker 18-channel audio system absolutely cranks!

Safety

Mercedes-Benz C-Class8/10

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.

Stepping up to the C 300 brings the 'Driving Assistance package' which adds a more sophisticated AEB with cross traffic function and evasive steering, plus lane keeping assistance.

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.


Rolls-Royce Ghost8/10

Rolls-Royce doesn’t submit its cars for independent safety assessment, so no ANCAP rating for the new Ghost, unless, of course, the local testing authority chooses to purchase one. Enough said...

The previous Ghost was limited by its ageing 7 Series platform when it came to the latest active safety tech, But this version, sitting on a bespoke RR chassis, brings the entry-point Roller up to speed.

Included are AEB, incorporating ‘Vision Assist’ (day and night wildlife and pedestrian detection), active cruise control (with semi-autonomous driving mode), cross-traffic warning, lane-departure and lane-change warning, as well as an ‘Alertness Assistant.’

There’s also a four-camera system with panoramic and helicopter view, as well as a self-park function, and a hi-res head-up display 

If all that’s not enough to avoid an impact, passive safety includes eight airbags (front, front side, full-length curtain, and front knee).

There are also top tethers and ISOFIX anchors on the two outer rear seat positions for safely securing child restraints for kids fortunate enough to be travelling in this kind of style. 

Ownership

Mercedes-Benz C-Class7/10

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.


Rolls-Royce Ghost8/10

Rolls-Royce covers its Australian range with a four year/unlimited km warranty, but that's just the tip of the ownership iceberg.

The mysterious ‘Whispers’ owners portal, a “world beyond”, is claimed to offer the opportunity, “to gain access to the inaccessible, to discover rare finds, to connect with like-minds.” 

Plug your car’s VIN into the app and you’ll be on the receiving end of curated content, event invitations, news and offers, as well as access to your own ‘Rolls-Royce garage’, plus a 24/7 concierge. All complimentary.

What’s more, service is recommended every 12 months/15,000km, and it’s free-of-charge for the duration of the warranty.