We spend a week with the Mercedes C 180 CGI BlueEFFICIENCY Executive SE Saloon to Review and Road Test. Is a lowly Mercedes C Class any good, or just an ego car?
There was a time when you knew what lurked beneath the bonnet of a Mercedes; the badge on the boot shouted it loud and clear. If it was an S500 you knew it had a 5.0 litre engine and if it said C180 you could safely assume you’d get a modest 1.8 litre lump to row Mercedes’ smallest saloon along.
But things have got a bit more complicated over the years; probably because the cubic capacity of the engine is not necessarily an indication of its power. After all, it could be diesel or petrol – naturally aspirated or not – and, as this is Mercedes, aided by a supercharger or turbo.
So the badge on the boot is an indication of where the particular model you’re driving sits in the pecking order. More or less. This week’s Mercedes C180 CGI tells us that our car lurks somewhere near the bottom of the Mercedes C Class range. But you’d be hard pushed to know it without the badge.
This particular C180 is the C180 CGI BlueEFFICIENCY Executive SE, a moniker which Mercedes has sensibly decided not to splat all over the boot. In fact on our test car the only badges are a small ‘BlueEFFICIENCY’ on the side but, with the new ‘Sport’ grill on this car with it’s big three pointed start grill (reminiscent of the grill on the old W126 SEC or W107), it looks far more upmarket.
I did think it might be my old-man eyes that made this C Class look upmarket. After all, I’m old enough to have coveted a 560 SEC when it first hit the roads almost thirty years ago. But no, the consensus in the office – where ages range from a (not much more than a child) 22 to (a sadly equally child-like) 53 – is that this C Class looks far more upmarket than we expected.
In fact the general consensus is that for the first time in this latest C Class Mercedes has managed to pull off the trick they’ve really been trying to do since the 190 hit the roads in the early ’90s, namely to create a car that can genuinely be considered a small S Class.
It has always seemed as if Mercedes has been playing catch-up with BMW’s 3 Series. Never quite the bride, always the bridesmaid to the more dynamic, more youthful, more aggressive 3 Series. But it now looks as if Mercedes finally has the measure of the 3 Series.
The C180 feels bullet proof. It’s not just a good looking car, it’s very well bolted together too. In every way it feels like a small S Class. Quality materials abound, and in this SE Executive spec (which started life last year as a Limited Edition, but now seems to have found its way in to the model range) you get quite a lot for your money – certainly by Mercedes standards.
There’s a full-fat version of the Mercedes COMAND with HDD Nav, Linguatronic and a music box; a very good system. You also get a set of 16″ alloys, bits of chrome and the aforementioned Sport grill. But that’s on top of the more than half-decent entry spec SE which gives you goodies such as half electric seats, Climate and auto lights.
So the Mercedes C180 CGI looks good, is well built and well equipped. But it can’t hold a candle to the dynamics of the 3 Series. Can it?
click next below to continue reading