Fleet News

Mercedes-Benz C200 K Elegance - 9,217 miles

Mercedes-Benz

Review

##merck.jpg --Right##THE new Mercedes C-class, an example of which we have on long term test in the very refined shape of the C200 Kompressor Elegance, has been collecting a growing army of admirers. My previous reports have recorded how not just hard-bitten fleet hacks have sung its praises, but also the residual value experts at CAP Motor Research.

Reaction, too, among fleet operators has been very positive and feedback generally excellent. Mercedes-Benz corporate sales manager Nick Ratcliffe reports many incidences of fleet approval - and a growing order book to prove it.

However, for fleet customers the key issue surrounding the car this year, will be availability and there will be a big overhang of orders at the East London factory in South Africa where the car is built. The delay for certain models could be as long as six months - but, they say, good things are generally worth waiting for - or at least that's what Mercedes is hoping for.

Last year the company sold around 18,000 C-class models in the UK, down slightly from the previous year's 18,500, but this is the first full year of new C-class sales with new derivatives set to come on stream shortly and an uplift of several thousand is expected.

With the new CO2 based tax system only a year away, diesel derivatives look likely to attract a lot of attention with the C220 and the C270 diesels likely to take one third of all orders, according to manufacturer projections.

And to add to the product mix, the estate version joins the line-up from May with all engines currently in the range being available in the wagon - giving a choice of models from the 180, the 200 Kompressor, the 220 and 270 diesels and the top of the range V6. The three-door Coupe also joins the range shortly and Mercedes expects around 2,000 estates and 3,000 coupes to be sold this year along with around 18,000 C-class saloons, giving a total of around 25,000 units.

In terms of corporate buyers who account for the bulk of C-class sales, Mercedes-Benz is looking to appeal to younger, more dynamic drivers with possibly a greater proportion of women drivers than for the old model, and is expecting conquest sales to come from the Audi A4 and BMW 3-series. The change in customer profile is thought likely to be related to the fact that the C-class no longer has the old three-box saloon image but much snappier styling and driving appeal. Judging from the reaction I've had to the car from friends and colleagues over the last 9,000 miles or so behind the wheel, it's a view I can understand.

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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