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C demonstrates its class. Image by Syd Wall.

C demonstrates its class
Entry-level C-Class demonstrates the C's class even without a huge specification and large engine.

   



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| A Week at the Wheel | Herts, England | Mercedes-Benz C180 Kompressor SE |

Inside & Out: star star star star star

The C-Class immediately stands out among its premium competition, even in entry-level C180K SE form. It's got a solidity to its lines, a classy understatement yet pleasing gravitas that neither the BMW 3 Series or Audi A4 can match. In SE guise the C-Class gets the more traditional grille and bonnet-top mounted three-pointed star rather than the Sport's coupé-aping large grille-mounted item. In black, some of the C-Class's finer detail lines are lost, it having more impact in lighter metallic shades. Inside it's unusual to be greeted by cloth seats rather than leather, but in the winter that's not such a bad thing, especially as they're not heated.

They are very comfortable though, typically firm but supportive. There's plenty of adjustment for both them and the steering wheel, though the pedals are rather offset - more notable with the C180K's standard manual transmission. Space is good up front, legroom in the rear suffering if the driver is average height or above. The boot is huge, though the predominantly black interior feels rather sombre and some of the plastics used aren't quite as expensive-feeling as they perhaps should be. Refinement is excellent though, Mercedes isolating wind, road and engine noise well.

Engine & Transmission: star star star star star

A small capacity engine and manual gearbox are two things that are not usually associated with Mercedes. However, the 1.8-litre petrol unit in the C-Class benefits from a supercharger, which allows it to deliver a respectable 154bhp and 170lb.ft of torque. That's enough to allow the C180K to reach 62mph in 9.5 seconds with the standard six-speed manual transmission, or 9.9 seconds with the five-speed automatic. Mercedes has never had a tremendous reputation for manual gearboxes, and although the standard six-speeder isn't the imprecise disaster you might expect, it's bettered by its rivals' items.

Part of the problem is the way the pedals are so off-set, the clutch nearly in line with the steering column due to the inclusion of a foot-operated parking brake. However, only a handful of C-Classes will ever be sold with the manual, though if we were to go for the auto we'd probably want it combined with a more powerful engine. Not that the C180K's unit isn't decent enough; it's a willing, free-revving motor, but it does need those revs to produce its best. And that's quite at odds with the rest of the car's demeanour, it feeling more suited to relaxed, easy progress than pressing on up around the rev-counter in search of power.

Ride & Handling: star star star star star

On the specification sheet for the C180K SE there's a mention of comfort suspension. That might cause concern among those demanding pin-sharp dynamics, but the reality is that, although there's some body roll, the suspension is rather well judged. It does exactly what's asked of it, i.e. provide comfort. Yet further up the specification sheet resides an 'Agility Control Package' with selective damping that seems to do a decent job. Given there are sportier models available the C180K SE's agility is impressive taking into consideration its range status, it underlining the C-Class's inherent balance and ability on the road. The steering isn't loaded with feel, and there's a bit of slack on initial turn in, but it's quite a marked advance from the rather woolly set up of previous generation C-Class models.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: star star star star star

There is some electric adjustment on both front seats - for the backrest and height - while the cabin is set to your preferred temperature by two-zone automatic climate control rather than mere ordinary air conditioning. Add Bluetooth phone operation, a standard auxiliary-in socket for MP3 players, an 8-speaker stereo and all the safety kit you could ever hope for and the 'basic' C-Class is anything but. The dash is typically Mercedes-Benz functional, the transmission tunnel controller for the audio and telephone functions working well. Inexplicably Mercedes has put the screen for this behind a flap that needs to be open the majority of the time. Fine, but only if it didn't look so untidy when it's open. Combined fuel economy of 40.9mpg is pretty decent, as is its 165g/km CO2 emissions.

Overall: star star star star star

The entry-level Mercedes-Benz C-Class disproves a number of long-held prejudices against inexpensive Mercedes models. That being they come poorly equipped and are hopeless to drive. The C180K is a sweet driving car with real poise on the road and comes with a level of equipment that's got almost every base covered. We'd still aim to stretch to a diesel with an automatic, but we wouldn't be too upset if we could only manage the C180K SE.

Kyle Fortune - 13 Dec 2007



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2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class specifications: (C180 Kompressor SE saloon)
Price: £22,937
0-62mph: 9.5 seconds
Top speed: 138mph
Combined economy: 40.9mpg
Emissions: 165g/km
Kerb weight: 1485kg

2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Syd Wall.

2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Syd Wall.



2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Syd Wall.
 






 

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