Fleet News

Mercedes-Benz C200K Elegance - 2,230 miles



##mercc.jpg --Right##JUST occasionally, a new car arrives on our long term test fleet and causes something of a stir among hard-bitten car journos and company execs - and you realise that car has something special.

That 'something special' is the C-class Kompressor, our latest long-termer from the corporate sales boys at Milton Keynes, with us for the next six months and already causing palpitations among staff.

Take our senior finance manager, for example. Having begged the loan of the C-class for a weekend trial, under the pretence of considering ordering it for his next company wheels - and swapping a Saab 9-5 saloon in exchange - he returned it, newly washed, completely vacuumed inside and with a full tank of petrol - unprecedented in my experience! That, and the entreaties to leave it with him for another week (and the offer to keep the Saab for as long as I liked) showed the extent to which he was smitten.

The model we have is the 2.0- litre Kompressor Elegance four-door automatic, part of the ultra-sleek and stylish C-class range which was launched in September and is designed to build on the success of its predecessor - and having sold 1.6 million units worldwide, that was some success story.

They say that most successful football teams start with their defence as the foundation for success and with cars, regardless of make or model, it's undoubtedly the powerplant which makes the difference between a chart-topper and an also-ran. The new 2.0-litre supercharged engine makes the Kompressor one of the sportiest cars in its class, the belt-driven supercharger developing 163bhp and propelling the C-class from a standing start to 60mph in nine seconds, with a top speed of 143mph.

Allied to that performance - some 20% better than the previous model in terms of power output and torque - however is a frugality of fuel consumption and a kindness to the environment that should bring smiles to the faces of either the most hard-nosed auditor or the greenest of Greenpeace supporters.

An average fuel consumption bordering on 30mpg for a petrol-driven car of this class is exemplary, while emissions already match the strict Euro IV limits - new stringent European emissions laws which will not come into force until 2005.

Inside, the C-class exudes style with wood trim and leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear shift much to the fore, while the attention to detail is mind-blowing. More than 20 key technical innovations from the bigger models in the German stable have been included as standard.

The list of standard features includes such thoughtful ideas as rain-sensing windscreen wipers, multi-function steering wheel with more than 50 settings, automatically dimming rear view mirror, three rear headrests which can be raised or lowered at the touch of a button to improve visibility, 'intelligent' airbags for driver and front passenger which are two-stage and adapt to the speed and nature of the accident - the list goes on.

On the safety side nothing has been left to chance and new large-volume window bags taken from the higher-level S-class and E-class models are designed to cushion occupants, particularly in the chest area, in the event of a side-impact collision from just about every conceivable angle.

The new C-class looks certain to be a premier league player - and who'd bet against it going to the top of the league? Not our finance manager for one!

Mike Gunnell

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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