We spend a few months with Mercedes-Benz's best-seller to find out what makes the C-Class a longtime favourite

Mercedes-Benz C180 Kompressor
Long-term Test

Update I: Taking delivery and first impressions
Update II:  Living with a Silver Star
Update III: Still no service

Long-term Test: Introduction

From time to time CarPoint takes the opportunity to spend more than a launch, or indeed a seven-day test period, with a car. These longer term tests can be as short as a couple of weeks, or as is the case this time, as long as four to six months.

Long-term tests give CarPoint staffers and contributors a chance to get to know a car as an owner would. While the car is with us, we pay for fuel, pay for the servicing and generally use and live with the car as a proud new owner would.

Manufacturers tend to have a love-hate relationship with long-term tests. They love the coverage the cars get and when the experience is fuss-free, enjoy the flow of positive comments. They hate the negative feedback when things go wrong. Equally they're not too keen either on the fact that Long-term tests tend to give us journos the chance to fall out of love with the latest and greatest and start to nitpick -- just like real world owners do.

We believe they give car buyers an insight into not only individual models but the values and qualities behind the brands they represent. They allow us to 'touch' the dealer networks and deliver us solid benchmarks from which to better judge new and updated models.

In the past we've spent time with Falcon utes, a Honda CRV, a Ford Escape, even an optioned-to-the-hilt BMW 530i Touring among others. This time we've opted for the sort of car a well-heeled user-chooser might pick -- or indeed a canny self-funded retiree.

Say hello to our latest long-termer -- Mercedes-Benz C180 K ULA649.

The baby of the 'conventional' Benz range (we still can't get used to calling As and Bs real Benzes!), the C-Class is effectively in its last 12 months or so of production. Some time in 2007 we'll see a new C-Class introduced that will undoubtedly be bigger, and by dint of history, better -- or at least safer, faster and probably more frugal.

So why test a run-out model? Mercedes-Benz is keen to see the C-Class continue to be its volume seller even though it is at the end of its model run. That's good news for consumers as to help encourage buyers to spend their hard-earned dollars (even the pre-tax ones), the German marque is value adding the C180 to make it a more attractive purchase. That makes the C canny buying if a midsize 'badge' car is what you're after.

The car pictured hereabouts -- our long termer, is absolutely bog stock. By dint of the specification adjustment Benz has undertaken, there are no options fitted.

To be frank, a year or so ago, that strategy would have seen a very plain jane Benz delivered to Fortress CarPoint. As it is, we reckon the C180 represents a pretty stylish and well-equipped package. Time will tell…


CarPoint's new long-term car is an automatic Mercedes-Benz C 180K Sedan. The car features Iridium Silver metallic paint and Anthracite Artico upholstery and is priced at $58,990 plus ORCs.

So what about the flash wheels, lowered stance and bigger brakes?

Like the metallic paint, the 17-inch five-spoke alloys, drilled discs and Mercedes-Benz logoed calipers are part of the Sports Package the maker made a $1500 option on the C-Class back in August.

Previously offered at $4090 (not including metallic paint -- then another $2390), the Sports kit also includes polished stainless steel exhaust pipe, leather trimmed gearshift lever, three-spoke multifunction leather steering wheel, brushed stainless steel pedals with rubber studs, front sports seats and floor mats.

Since August, Mercedes has further refined the package and now the Sports Pack --plus steering wheel mounted gearshift paddles -- is offered as part of the C-Class's revised sticker price.

It's worth noting that CarPoint tested a similarly equipped C180 K with an 'as tested' price north of $67K this financial year! See what we mean about added value...

It's also worth reviewing the basic package before we get too far into the plot -- what lies beneath the Johnny-come-lately added value.

Mercedes' most popular model, the current C was launched in 2000 (yes it really is six years!) and was significantly upgraded in 2004. In terms of sales, over the generations, more than 55,000 C-Class vehicles have been sold, making it the most successful Mercedes-Benz model ever Down Under.

The current C-Class lineup includes six sedan, two Estates (wagon) and three Sport Coupe hatch models with a total of six different engines, myriad combinations of interior, exterior and option packages.

The C 180K is the baby of the litter and features a supercharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine rated at 105kW at 5200rpm and 220Nm at 2500-4000rpm.

As noted above, the C 180K gets the Sports Package as a default option. Buyers can opt for the Classic 'cooking' model without the above noted goodies at a saving of $675. A further Sports Edition + Package is offered including a swag of AMG goodies but take your cheque book -- you'll be handing over an extra $8900 to play.

A conventional four-door five-place rear-wheel drive sedan, the C 180K features a five-speed multimode automatic transmission. A six-speed manual is offered as an option at a saving of $3100.

Like most models from the German marques, a comprehensive option list is offered. The contention of this long-term test is that there is little if anything you need to add to the standard specification offered by the C 180K.

Back in August, CarPoint's Russell Williamson summed up the C180 K as: "a good entry point for the Benz traditionalist with solid drivetrain, superb comfort and competent road manners."

We're about to find out whether Russell's initial impressions hold true in the long haul.

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Published : Friday, 15 December 2006
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