MERCEDES has just launched its fifth-generation C-Class Saloon and it really raises the bar in the fiercely competitive compact executive car sector.
With many of its styling cues and technical features taken from the flagship S-Class, the latest four-door saloon is a great looking model guaranteed to grab the attention of bystanders.
There's a choice of richly-equipped trim levels called Sport, AMG Line, AMG Line Premium and AMG Line Premium Plus and there is a choice of mild hybrid petrol or diesel engines along with a plug-in hybrid version on offer.
We opted for the C 220 d AMG Line Premium model powered by a 2.0-litre mild hybrid diesel engine with 48-volt technology, delivering 200hp and 440Nm of torque.
Priced at £44,915 - £45,600 with optional special paint, this C-Class Saloon can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 7.3 seconds and maxes out at 152mph, while delivering a combined 58.9mpg with carbon emissions of 121g/km.
When viewed from any angle, the streamlined C-Class Saloon looks fabulous and, with muscular AMG styling, it really looks the part. Design cues include a black grille with silver trim and Mercedes badging, twin tail pipes, a sculpted bonnet, Digital light headlamps, an AMG front bumper with sports air intakes and chrome elements, AMG rear bumper with high gloss trimmings, privacy glass and stunning 19-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels.
Step inside and it's impossible not to be wowed by the premium interior with the finest leather upholstery, powered seats and elegant dashboard design. There is a new portrait 11.9-inch infotainment screen, along with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.
On-board technology, again much of which has filtered down from the S-Class, includes the very latest MBUX entertainment set-up with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless charging, a pitch perfect sound system and DAB radio.
If you have the necessary subscription, then there is access to music streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon and the car's personal assistant can be summoned via the ‘Hey Mercedes' command and then asked to carry out any number of tasks from raising the temperature, plotting navigation routes or finding radio stations.
There are 64 colour shades of ambient lighting and the new-look cockpit has air vents with surrounds that glow red as you increase the temperature and blue as it is lowered.
When it comes to performance, the C 220 d Saloon is quite the all-rounder. It has ample firepower on tap to fizz through the twisting country lanes with excellent grip and acceleration through the nine-speed automatic gearbox. There are steering wheel paddles to change gear manually, along with drive modes called Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual to alter the ride and handling.
The car is longer and wider than its predecessor, but proved to be just as agile in busier city centres with decent all-round visibility and all the sensors, cameras and parking assist systems needed to squeeze into tight parking spaces.
But, in all honesty, this model is most content on the longer journeys notching up the motorway miles. It cruises effortlessly at 70mph and with a full tank, can cover in excess of 900 miles. No range anxiety issues there then.
The cabin is more spacious than the outgoing car meaning there is extra leg and elbow room in the back where two adults can certainly sit comfortably, or three for shorter trips.
The boot, accessed via a powered lid, can accommodate 455 litres of luggage and throughout the vehicle, there is a lockable glovebox, cup holders, practical door bins, a cubby box, seat back pockets and trays to store bits and pieces safely.
As one would expect from Mercedes, the C-Class is kitted out with a comprehensive array of safety systems and driver assistance aids to help prevent accidents. These includeautonomous emergency braking, blind spot assist, active lane keeping assist, active brake assist with turning manoeuvre, electronic stability programme, an active bonnet to protect pedestrians in the event of a collision, a parking package with 360-degree cameraplusdual stage airbags.