by Brad Leach - 29/09/10
BlueEFFICIENCY Launches Mercedes’ Latest Eco Tech
In coming years a term you will be hearing frequently from Mercedes-Benz is ‘BlueEFFICIENCY’ – the name given to its efforts to reduce energy consumption. And when the German giant tackles an engineering challenge, historically the results have been spectacular.
We’ve just tested the latest Mercedes-Benz C 250 CGI sedan – one of the new BlueEFFICIENCY models – and it includes major efforts to reduce weight, aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance in order to optimize fuel consumption. Naturally it’s a brilliant luxury sedan, but really ‘Benz is just warming up and we suspect the BlueEFFICIENCY umbrella will roll-out some remarkable planet-friendly initiatives in coming years.
So what’s different with these BlueEFFICIENCY ‘Benz models? Well in the 2010 models, improvements include:
• Smooth underbody cladding (improved aerodynamics)
• Partial blanking of the radiator grille (improved aerodynamics)
• Sealed joins between bonnet, headlights and bumper (improved aerodynamics)
• Streamlined exterior mirror housings (improved aerodynamics)
• Intelligent control of engine ancillary units, such as the power steering pump (only activated when needed for reduced fuel consumption)
• Improved gearbox and differential gears (reduced fuel consumption)
• New laminated windscreen (weighs 1.2kgs less than before).
These detail improvements highlight Mercedes’ fastidious commitment to make all of its models kinder to the planet.
In fact the C 250 CGI is a new addition to the C-Class lineup and, priced at $65,900, it sits in the middle of the 2010 range which starts at $57,900 for the C 200 CGI. Like its C-Class stable-mates, the C250 CGI benefits from upgrades included in Mercedes’ ‘First Choice’ value strategy – including the standard Avantgarde front grille, split-fold rear seats and double cup holders.
And while the C-Class isn’t the newest design on the block, its beautiful exterior and interior are still amongst the worlds best.
According to Mercedes-Benz, the C 250 CGI came about in response to customer demands for a C-Class with some extra performance, but in four-cylinder form. ‘Benz offers a V6 petrol (C 300) and V6 diesel (C 350 CDI), but the company says C 250 CGI customers specifically don’t want to step-up the two extra cylinders.
Like the C 200 CGI, a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine powers the C 250 CGI. However, as tested, the C 250 CGI delivers 150kW/310Nm, whereas the C200 CGI is good for 135kW/270Nm.
Mercedes’ says the C 250 CGI returns fuel consumption of 7.7l/100kms and exhaust emissions are rated at 180g/km. By comparison, the C 200 CGI is 7.3l/100kms and 171g/km.
The letters ‘CGI’ are ‘Benz-Speak’ for direct fuel injection and the newcomer is a Euro 5 standard engine thanks to its low fuel consumption and emissions.
Performance is certainly impressive – zero to 100km/h in just 7.4 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 210km/h.
The C-Class is a compact, so – like the rival BMW 3-Series – rear seat legroom isn’t massive. That aside – again like the 3-Series – the C-Class interior is simply one of the worlds best.
It’s like Mercedes-Benz tradition and conservatism meets contemporary and stylish. For example, the instruments are the usual ‘Benz high-class, conservative gauges, but to the left is the COMAND APS entertainment and satellite navigation screen which automatically whirs and buzzes when you switch-off the engine as it folds out of sight of would-be thieves.
Installation of the COMAND APS system means the audio system can only cope with a single-CD set-up – hardly the end of the world – Bluetooth and iPod connectivity are standard.
The C 250 CGI has electronic front seat adjustment for height and seatback angle but manual adjustment for length and lumbar support. Combined with the height/reach adjustable steering wheel, the usual ‘Benz first-rate driving position is quickly set.
Included in Mercedes’ ‘First Choice’ program for 2010 was the adoption of the Avantgarde specification which in the case of C 250 CGI means the burr walnut interior trim is replaced with more modern black birds’-eye maple.
Also part of ‘First Choice’ was a 66/33 split-fold rear seat. The C 250 CGI has a luggage capacity of 475 litres.
The 2010 ‘First Choice’ changes brought standard Avantgarde styling for all models except the C 200 CGI and C 220 CDI. This means the C 250 CGI runs the aggressive front grille with the incorporated large three-pointed star logo (so there’s no bonnet badge).
Other external changes for the C 250 CGI are the taillights (dark-grey tint) and 18-inch five twin-spoke alloys wheels (different sizes – 7.5-inch wide fronts and 8.5-inch wide rears).
The C 250 CGI drives the rear wheels via Benz’ five-speed automatic which paddle shifters on the steering wheel and ‘Touchshift’ on the gear lever for sequential manual changes. Underneath is the usual complex Mercedes chassis – a three-link coil-sprung independent front end with amplitude-dependent damping and a multi-link independent rear.
And of course, there’s the usual full compliment of driver assistance and safety technology including nine airbags, NECK-PRO active front head restraints and PRE-SAFE.
In both city and rural environments, the C 250 CGI was all class and precision – just as you expect from ‘Benz. In terms of driving dynamics, the C- Class remains the benchmark for non-European brands.
Over our mountain roads test route (in the wet), turn-in, balance and body control were all at the very best and interior refinement absolutely top shelf.
Back in the city, the 10.8-metre turning circle and automatically-lowering external mirrors just scoffed at the difficulties of our tight CBD high-rise car park but…
…we were surprised a $65K prestige German sedan with satellite navigation did not have a standard reversing camera.
Otherwise the only points deduction from the C 250 CGI was the fuel-injection mapping which – like the other C-Class models we have recently tested - is biased a tad too much for fuel economy at the expense of low-speed response.
The term ‘World Class’ is overused, but it’s impossible to avoid with the C 250 CGI. It’s all there in a planet-friendly format – ‘Benz-style luxury, driving dynamics, looks and refinement.
The C 250 CGI steals an edge over rival German products because of the power and torque of the turbocharged petrol four-cylinder. You have to love the current Audi A4’s interior, while the BMW 3-Series is the usually dynamic winner for sporty drivers…it’s a coin toss or down to individual deals/options at dealerships.
Superb interior and exterior style; BlueEFFICIENCY technology
No reversing camera; lacks low-down throttle response
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