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So it came time to buy a new car. Now im a very typical girl i dont know a lot about cars but as long as it goes, looks pretty and dosnt get riddiculed by my male petrol head mates im happy. My previous car was a BMW 3 series which i loved with all the bells and whistles but it was a W reg (this is back in 2009) petrol and because it was a coupe with really heavy doors was as heavy as hell (terrible for fuel consumption). So new car shopping i went. After an unsuccessfull look round the dealership i decided to look at mercedes. To cut this part of the story short i came home with a 2006 C220 diesel coup. I have had the car over 3 years now and i wouldnt swap it for the world. I frequently drive Manchester to London which is a good 500 mile round trip and can do this on a sinhle tank of fuel. It may be a diesel but the engin is so quiet and not noticably slugglsih on the pick up at all. Maintenance wise i have had no problems i do service it frequently and the merc parts are on the expensive side but once installed they just dont seem to go wrong at all. So how does it compare to other cars? Well lighter than the BMW and feels smaller to drive (maybe not what the boys want to hear). Great as a runaround but also comfy for distance and plenty of gadgets. A good investment for price (i paid around 11000 for mine in 2009) and deffinatly a robust quality car. Try it if you are looking for a dieael car that feels like a peteol you wont be dissapointed.
Every car has some kind of special bond to a person, be it their first car, their current car, even their worst car. They will always tell you a tale about it when you let them know that you are a car salesman. I guess this is why there is so much passion about designing and orchestrating the ultimate driving experience. The will to better the last and constantly strive for increased performance, enhanced looks and comfort. So, having driving almost every make of car that there is available to the UK market, from Jaguars to Jeep?s, Peugeots to Porsche?s and even some top notch TVR?s, not much excites me about driving a new one every week or so, until September 1st, 2003. I worked for Ford?s for over 3 years and had numerous Puma?s, Mondeos and other cars which were registered as demos and I was the first person to take it to the roads, so the excitement of being the first to drive a car has long since wavered. But this was the very first Mercedes-Benz car I had driven from new. The C200K Sports Coupe. I arrived at the Poole branch of Jackson?s Mercedes to pick the car up after I finished work, about 6.45. It was still light, and I could see her nestled under the customer parking section of the Jackson?s Direct site, opposite the main showroom. So without further ado, let?s review! APPEARANCE Shaped like a wedge of cheese, the sports coupe has an almost unique door stop appearance. Sleek from front edge through to her JLo butt, which is both curved and vivacious. Getting away from tradition, the Coupe has thrown off her classic inhibitions and allowed a more state of the art ?cutting edge? design to transform the C Class Saloon that has for so long been the landing force of MB thought the UK and mainland Europe. Predominant wheel arches that house the five twin-spoke alloys, give the car a squat look, but do not mask the strength that they support through their enhanced suspension system. The hood/bonnet of the car has seen the badge hacked off from her original proud attention grabbing mid posture and has been placed in the front grill and she also has a small blue badge on the hood it?s self. This gives it less elegance, but more strength, as she now seems lower to the ground rather than the heightened feel of a saloon. The twin frog eye lights are taken from the C Class design and add to the modern appeal, making the square lights form the pre-2001 version of the C Saloon, redundant. An ample supply of chrome pleases the eye and again, adds to the sporty image they are trying to create, rather than the somewhat dated look of many of the other ?Niche? sports coupes on the market. With slightly tinted glass, the darkness dominates against a background of brilliant silver, adding to the sleekness of her design. Tapering off to an almost wicked point from her pinnacle to her base, you feel as if the car is moving when stood still. Even the mirrors, with the built in indicators do not look out of place, although I feel they are a wee bit on the bulbous size and could have been streamlined in line with the edge of the car, however I think safety was in mind when they actually thought through the pro?s and con?s of this design. Now, on to her behind! What a strange concept this is. With a darkened glass appearance and a rear spoiler above a tinted seam of glass, to enable you to park at ease, I found myself musing over her and trying to decide what my feelings were for this somewhat unconventional approach. Do you know what? She won me over. Admittedly, when opening the hatch, her large behind tends to make it a task rather than an ease, but the feel of that solid mass when you force it upwards, makes for a safe feeling and adds to the safety aspect of the car. The indicators are built into the smoked glass protective barrier and are easily visible to other drivers and safe from chips and damage from everyday driving. Overall, I like her looks. Not the slim Posh Spice sports car look like the Ferrari, but more the J. Lopez full Latin dancing figure that hugs rather than twists. INSIDE The first thing that strikes you when getting into the car, are how solid the doors feel. You really need some space to open this door though, as she stretches out to allow a more than adequate space to swing you legs into. Pulling the door to, you now feel like you are inside the cabin of a space shuttle rather than a Mercedes. Gone is the wood finish, the traditional dials and the comfort appearance, and in their place we now see and aluminium/chrome design, white and silver dials and leather finish rather than cloth inserts. The steering wheel gives slightly to the touch, allowing a firm grip with little chance of sliding or losing control. Hidden through her prongs are the instrument clusters, with their standard rev counter and speedometer, but now with the added bonus of the on board computer, for us geekie enthusiasts who like to know what fuel consumption we are achieving and how long the journey has taken, etc. Actually, if I can just hover over that bit for a little longer, the onboard computer has a lot of different functions that I am rather fond of. You can set your headlights to stay on for up to 45 seconds or so when you leave the car, allowing you to walk to your front door without stepping in the puddle or tripping over the cat in the dark. It is also very helpful when you are in a car park and you need to find your car. All you have to do is press the remote key and the lights come on, allowing you to not only pin point your vehicle but you can also manoeuvre to her in safety. Small things, but small things that make a luxury car, a luxury! Other features on the inter-active steering wheel and the on board computer are tuning the radio, volume control and hands free mobile phone. (If fitted, it combines the Nokia 6310i with an integrated software package that enables you to see on you dash who is calling etc.) The seats are extremely firm and sturdy, with a pump action on the side to raise the seat to an acceptable level. With a knob to lower the front edge of the seat, you can achieve a more comfortable drive without the edge digging into your legs. A lever pulley lets you slide the chair back and forth so that your feet can reach the pedals in the fashion you would like rather than stretching or bending the knees 10 to 2 fashion, as some sports cars make you succumb to. I find the seats very comfortable and had no problems on my hour or so journey to work each day. Now the car comes standard as a 6 speed manual, but you can have either the Automatic Tiptronic version, or the Sequential 6 speed of which I had. I have driven all these gearboxes in different cars, but I found the Sequential to be superb on this model. A very brief explanation for those who do not know what a sequential gearbox is: a stick that you push up to change gear and down to change gear the other way. You do not use a clutch as it is semi automatic, but you can also select fully automatic if you wish. There now. The gear change was not smooth, although it could so easily have been, had I not wanted to drive it like a sports car and push it through gear change and high rev manoeuvres. Driving along the Ringwood to Salisbury road, you often find yourself behind agricultural vehicles and the ease of slipping down two gears and breezing past was exceptional, and I mean exceptional. More about that later. The SE pack which this car incorporated included Automatic climate control, which works superbly and keeps the temperature just how you would like it. Also included in the SE pack are the 5 twin spoke alloy wheels I mentioned earlier, but I won?t go into too many options as I would be here all day. ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) is a standard fit now on all Mercedes cars, as well as many different safety features, including driver, passenger and side airbags, ABS and brake assist features. You can turn off the ESP if you need to by selecting the button above the CD player. In fact, all the buttons and controls are in easy reach of your left arm, allowing you to select certain items without taking your eyes off the road for too long. A single CD player, rather than the optional multi changer which fits in the glove box was fitted to my car. Awkward when you wanted to change CD?s though, as they were located on a CD storage holder in the Glove Box which is just out of reach when driving. The sound quality is very good though as is the radio reception. The indicator arm on your left hand side is easy to reach without taking your hand off the wheel. They have also incorporated the windscreen wipers onto the same lever, so all actions are taken with the left hand. In fairness, this car also had the comfort pack, which gives automatic rain sensing windscreen wipers as party of her appeal. Accompanied by the standard automatic lights, you do not have to take you hand off the wheel much anyway. The lights come on when it gets dark and the windscreen wipers work when it starts raining. (They can come on spontaneously though and that can be a bit annoying.) You have the cruise control and speed limiter just above your indicators and this can conflict when first getting use to the car. The handbrake is a foot pedal with a lever to release located under the lights on the right hand side of the wheel. The foot pedal makes it tricky to do hill starts until you get the hang of it, and then it is no different to the standard arm pull hand brake we see on most British cars. What does make it easier though is how simple and effortless it is to remove the hand brake, unlike it can be when a 6ft man pulls it on to the max of its ability and a 5ft girl try?s to take it off (ask the wife!). The space for both front passengers is more than ample, but the rear can be a squeeze with access limited to the reasonably fit rather than the every day use of a four door, but realistically, you do not buy a coupe for five people, you buy it for two with the off chance that other people can put up with the squeeze as an eventuality rather than necessity. THE DRIVE I remember the saying, like a child on Christmas day. When I first set off from Jackson?s, the car pulled a bit as I tried to compensate for the acceleration bite in the sequential changeover. In fact, it probably took a couple of days and a hundred miles or so to familiarise myself with the racing drive that this car produced. Acceleration is a dream. Thrust back into the seat, you pull yourself forward to keep up with her before slapping the gear stick up a notch or even two to match the speed=revs scenario. It takes nothing more that a jerk of the wheel to point the nose in the direction to which you want to travel, and over-steer was maybe the first problem I encountered until I adjusted my driving style to that of the car. As with any sports car, you would expect the suspension to be a little robust and I was not to be disappointed here. You can feel every bump, but in a buffeting way rather than a bumpy fashion, riding the waves more than cutting them. The suspension responds quickly to allow you to recover direction when encountering such normality?s as say potholes or even as you bounce over cracks and ruts in the road. Combine that with the power steering and active ESP as a back up and you feel safe and in control. Occasional when you floor the car to overtake something, you neglect to switch off the ESP and this can have you pushing a pedal to no avail as the traction control over-rides the engines function to stop you losing control of the car. A seasoned driver will be able to fluctuate between ESP Control to e nable more command from the car?s ability. Vision is important, and as mentioned earlier, the glass bar under the rear spoiler allows a more panoramic view of what behind you. This is enhanced by the distortion in the glass to produce a magnified effect. The right hand stanchion does hinder the vision from the right when at junctions and I often found I had to lean forward to see what was hidden by this blind spot. Otherwise the only other problem you have with vision is ducking around the rear view mirror to see what is in front of you. All in all a very quick and confident drive with control mainly being encouraged rather than hindered. Enjoyable, to say the least. Would you get the same passion from the Auto only, I doubt it. PERFORMANCE You would think that a car with a 1.8 litre Kompressor (supercharge, like a turbo but constant) engine would drink petrol, but you would be wrong. I manage an average 36 MPG when travelling at pace to and from work, and achieve an impressive 28MPG around town. I am sure a more light-footed sensible driver would be encouraged to see a 40 MPG return at around 70 MPH average journey. 0-60 takes around 8 seconds, and top speed of 140 (estimated) would impress even the fiercest critic of Mercedes small Coupes. Changing through the gears is a smooth action once, as I said earlier, you learn the bites and quakes of the car. Thus the high input from the Kompressor can be educated to shift smoothly with the slightest movement of your foot. The safety aspects for this car and absolutely amazing (Did you know that Mercedes spend 1 million a day on improving the safety of their cars? They also invented many of the normal safety features you see in everyday cars, such as the airbag!) The ESP I harped on about saved my butt once when a motorbike swerved in front of me and I had to drive over a grass embankment to stop what would have been certain death for the rider. Whe n the wheels hit the uneven surface, the electronic sensors in each wheel brake to ensure that they are all spinning at the same speed, therefore negating the skid effect and allowing full control of direction. She incorporates Brake Assist as well, which is a method where the car recognises an emergency stop by how quickly you take your foot of the accelerator and apply the brake. This then speeds up the braking process without locking the wheels. With the airbags, the ABS and the strengthening barriers, you really feel that they have well thought out the occupant?s safety. Also she has a remote alarm/immobiliser for extra security. Servicing of this vehicle is at about 12,000 miles or so and has a clock display incorporated in the onboard computer that counts down the mileage to the next service. At a cost of approximately £116 plus Vat for an A service and £200 plus Vat for a B service, she is not what I would call a high maintenance car. When you consider a 3 years parts and labour warranty as standard on this vehicle (from date of registration) then you should not be out of pocket for anything more than tyres (average 15K depending) and brake pads (20K average depending) Tyres cost about £75 fitted and brake pads front, fitted about £120. OVERALL Not a car for either the family of four or the 30MPH ridged person, as she needs to breath and feel the contours of the road. This car has both comfort and performance, a more common feature on modern sports cars, and something we have all been shouting for since squeezing out of the standard Japanese two-seater with a bum number than you mouth after a tooth extraction. The lack of vision which one experiences in any sports coupe is more than adequately compensated for in this model. Maybe a slight improvement could be made with vision around the A pillar. What do I not like about it? Getting in and out is a pain as you have to stretch upwards to get out. Parking is a chore when the doors are so wide they need ample space to allow you to squeeze out without hitting someone else?s car with your door. The mirrors could be slightly less prominent. The things I like are all the rest really. For more information go to these links. http://www.mercedesbenz.co.uk/pc/index.html http://www.topgear.com/servlet/tg?DEST=/content/jsp/individualRoadTest.jsp&EVE NT=1010&MAKE=Mercedes-Benz:C7&MODEL=C-Class:K1&roadTestNumber=02.html For any more information, contact a Mercedes dealer or hey, contact me. Prices start from £19,100 for a base model and there is a new Face-Lift in April, so make sure that you choose the right model. Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, email me or leave a message in comments. Angus Reid