Ride On With Dumi Xaba

By Dumi Xaba

We know that the Coronageddon almost brought the automotive industry to its knees.

New model launch dates were pushed forward without any guarantees on order books due to micro-chip shortages. Mercedes-Benz is one of those that was worst-affected since all their models are mobile computers.

Let’s first go to the brief history of the C-Class, from a kasi-dweller’s perspective.

As we all know, from the late 70s to the current generation, if you wear converse sneakers, you will probably be stopped and searched by the men and women in blue anywhere in Mzansi. The rationale behind this is that you are probably a thug and are wearing those as a means to avoid arrest.

Now, the BMW 3-series has the same reputation, so is the Golf.

But C-Class drivers are well-heeled individuals. The same reputation still lingers in the air to date, especially with the Saps and traffic department.

A few years ago, I hired a Toyota Corolla from a rental company. They didn’t have an automatic and as such I ended up with a C-Class for the price of a Corolla. I was shocked to realise that after being everywhere in the country, I was never stopped even in any police roadblock. Now, that’s the trust the state has on a C-Class.

The blokes in Stuttgart have always struggled in terms of the size of the C-Class. Sometimes. it becomes a bit smaller like the 1982 model. Or a bit bigger. But finally, they have reached consensus that it should be slightly bigger than the A-Class, yet agile enough to park on a smallest parking bay while giving the best comfort and space. A difficult balancing act to pull off.

But for decades the C-Class has been Mercedes cash cow. In the South African market, it’s still their number one seller.

Mercedes tried setting an A-Class apart with some unique looks. It became so popular that all their models ended up taking the same shape – including the S-Class and their SUVs. The only model with the old S-Class face was the C-Class. It has finally been face-lifted. It now has the same looks like the rest of the Mercedes range.

I have managed to test two models – diesel and petrol. Both are powered by 2-Litre engines. Approaching the side there are no obvious changes.

From the front it’s a brand-new car, with wider headlights and a beautiful chrome diamond grille. I actually thought it was an E-Class. There is that sibling DNA on the C-Class that almost makes you think you are looking at an E-Class.

From the rear, you are met with those triangular head lights. The famous Stuttgart fake exhaust and a beautiful fake air diffuser. The boot space is generous, with hinges and nets to secure cargo including the famous Mercedes collapsible create. The seats fold down to allow more space for those long items that cannot fit properly in the boot.

The most beautiful part of the car is its cockpit. You are treated to full leather and a bit of plastic here and there. Nothing really to complain about.

The glove box is somewhat small, especially with the air freshener inside. The beautiful flowing cockpit is separated from the infotainment system. It’s not 3-D, like in the S-Class; but it looks well-thought of and a bit youthful, compared to the S-Cass.

Depress the brakes and hit the start button, you might be excused to think the car hasn’t started. It’s so well-insulated and the 2-litre engine is so quiet. The 12-inch information screen comes alive and you can use voice command to set your temperature and navigation. It is so easy to use, even my grandmother can figure it out in seconds. And if you want to keep your nosy spouse from your contacts and call history, a finger print security system is available. This can be connected to the house security which can be used to survey the parameters before you enter your premises.

The engine is responsive to all driving conditions and you hardly feel the box changing gears. The leaf spring adapters soaks up the humps and bumps like gas suspension.

Honestly, besides the backseat headroom that was affected by the sliding sunroof, there isn’t much to fault the baby S-Class. The system warns you if you are approaching a stop sign or red traffic light too fast. The infotainment is almost near the gear lever and might affect you if you are driving and need to fiddle with it. That’s when the voice control comes handy.

All models come with a 2-litre engine, but some are a bit more tweaked to give them more power. The C-63 will also be fitted with the same 2-litre engine as the A-45, but with more power. All models come standard with a five-year 100,0000km with zero customer contribution plan.

This model is assembled at a zero-emission plant in East London. You may buy with confidence that you are not harming the environment and are also a proudly South Africa brand supporter.

The only hard choice to make is E-Class or C-Class. For an investment of R856,000, which is around a R100,000 cheaper than the E-Class, you may have this latest Merc family member resting in your garage!

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