--
 
New Sasol GTC cars set for thrills

The iconic Grand Prix Circuit will present a new challenge to the GTC drivers as they tackle the country’s fastest racetrack on June 16.

Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

Suzuki kicks off its new model assault with an all new Swift hatchback and standalone sedan called the Dzire.

'Remembering some of best 'Baby Benzes' - 5 Mercedes C-Class icons

2018-07-30 19:00

Lance Branquinho

  Gallery

Mercedes-Benz has launched the new edition of its highly successful C-Class range in South Africa.

Strategized as a replacement for the 190-Series, C-Class was launched in the early 1993 as the baby ‘Benz. Traditionalists found it too daring as a design, but over time it has evolved into a remarkably important car for Mercedes-Benz.

In terms of sales, this is the three-pointed star most people buy each year. With the new car launching this week, we look at five seminal C-Class derivatives from the last four-generations. 

C230 Kompressor

When Mercedes introduced the C-Class in 1993, sceptics found the bright colours and on trend cabin trim a bit too far beyond traditional ‘Benz values. The engineering was very much founded in traditional Mercedes value, though.

READ: Mercedes-Benz debuts latest locally-built C-Class: Will Mzansi continue its love affair with the best-selling Merc yet?

Proof of this was the first-generation C230, distinguished by its Kompressor badging which signalled a return to supercharging for Mercedes, the first ‘Benz to feature crankshaft driven boost since in more than five decades.

At a time when BMW’s in-line sixes were giving 3 Series a nearly unassailable advantage in the German compact executive sedan market, C230 Kompressor mirrored the larger engines from Munich on outputs graphs.

The 2.3-litre in-line four rivalled power and torque figures from BMW’s 328i, and even today the Kompressor C-Class remains a revered example of Mercedes supercharging history. Especially if you can find one in the signature yellow finish. 

C-Class DTM

Before German manufacturers returned to F1, all their technical resources and skills were applied to the German domestic touring car championship, or DTM, for short.

                                                                         Image: Net Car Show

It remains the most radical sedan racing formula yet, with F1-rivalling levels of technology, innovation and cost. Of all the legendary DTM cars which raced at the peak of this formula in the 1990s, none were more iconic than Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class DTM.

The bodyshell might have been from a first-generation W202 C-Class, but everything else, including the active suspension and custom subframes, were fabricated by hand. The 2.5-litre engine was radical too, essentially a shortened 4.2-litre V8 from the S420 sedan, it was reconfigured as a V6 and produced 300kW. 

C230 SportCoupe W203

By the time 1999 had become 2000, Mercedes was already producing the A-Class. Despite this, executives decided that a second hatchback ‘Benz was required and so the SportCoupe was evolved from a second-generation C-Class platform.

Dimensionally it was 178mm shorter than the sedan, and lacked convenient access for rear seat passengers, but was also a lot easier to park – which was a strategic aim for product planners who wanted to draw city dwellers as SportCoupe customers.

The SportCoupe was a bold initiative, with focussed execution, but much like its rival from BMW, the 3 Series Ti, buyers in the early 2000s didn’t quite know what to make of these pseudo hatchbacks. 

C63 AMG

Sure, there had been C-Class AMGs before but this third-generation car revolutionised perceptions and provided foresight into AMG’s engineering prowess. Mercedes-Benz’s performance engineering subsidiary was more than a little bit upset when McLaren was entrusted with developing the SLR supercar with a three-pointed badge in 2003.

The first independent vehicle development by Affalterbach, C63 debuted with a 336kW 6.2-litre V8 and by the end of its lifecycle was producing 386kW as a DR520 limited edition in 2015.

                                                                       Image: Net Car Show

It was overengineered to illustrate that AMG was sufficiently mature in its depth of technical skills to build a performance car completely on its own – without any outside assistance.

AMG’s immense success and explosive product growth in the decade after C63 debuted can be traced back to Mercedes-Benz management entrusting it with the development of a proper M3 rival, as a test. The rest, as they say, is history. Mercedes-Benz’s most exciting products are now all engineered in Affalterbach, instead of Woking…

C350e plug-in hybrid

Proof that C-Class could adapt to the changing emission environment was the first compact hybrid sedan from Mercedes. A plug-in hybrid with stellar performance and impressive output numbers, C350e also happened to be ridiculously light on fuel when driven with restraint, coasting the battery component of its drivetrain.

                                                                           Image: Net Car Show

A turbocharged four-cylinder engine provided primary power, augmented by a 60kW electric motor, collaborating for a total system output of 205kW and 600Nm.

The battery was a 6.2kWh capacity lithium-ion unit with 30km of independent all-electric drive range and 2.1-litres/100km average consumption.
 
The first hybrid C-Class was unwittingly quick too, benefitting from the immediate torque delivery of its battery pack, and capable of 0-100kph 6.2 seconds.

NEXT ON WHEELS24X

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.