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3 Jul 2009

Blue is the new green II: Mercedes Benz C180K BlueEfficency

Mercedes Benz is joining the bandwagon to go green (or blue as the Germans prefer). 

Make: Mercedes Benz

Model: C180K BlueEfficency

Release Date: May 2009

Price: S$138,888

Does going green mean having to drive the Toyota Prius or the soon-to-arrive Honda Insight? In that case, I am afraid that many would be reluctant to, given the little pleasures that are derivable from driving the aft mentioned Japanese offerings.

At the same time, the heavy Hollywood endorsement for the Toyota Prius does create that ever-slightly “hypocrite” vibe on a Prius owner.

Test car was in Avantgarde trim and wore a not-so-eco but sporty 17-inch tyres.
For those eco-drivers who do not wish to compromise your driving experience or drive something as obvious as the Prius, the newly launched Mercedes Benz C180K BlueEfficency could be the solution.

In Mercedes‘ global scheme of things, BlueEfficency stands for improved fuel consumption and reduced carbon dioxide emissions, as it will be made available across other models in the German premium car maker’s range.   

From the exterior of the C180K, there are precious little cues to its green credentials: re-designed and smaller sized side mirrors, a tiny badge beside the front wheel arch that reads “BlueEfficency” and 16-inch eco-friendly low resistance tyres and special forge alloy wheels that are 1.8 kg lighter over regular cast items.

Powering this C180K BlueEfficency is a 1.6 litre supercharged four-cylinder engine offering 156 horsepower, exactly the same amount the outgoing 1.8 litre supercharged motor used to offer. The only drawback here would be noticeable increment in audible engine noise from the new smaller engine. Regardless, the C180K is not rapid but the 1.6-litre supercharged lump just about copes with the C-class’s bulk.

The soft-touch materials feel luxurious, fit and finish are excellent and the ergonomics of the interior is flawless
As a result of the tweaks, the C180’s CO2 emissions fall by 11g/km, to 183g/km, Mercedes claims an 11 per cent improvement in fuel economy, too, to a combined 7.7 litres per 100km.

These improvements are not entirely due to the new engine. Mercedes has lowered the car’s ride height, added an energy management system that turns the power steering on and off as required and lost some 32kg from the regular model. In case you need to impress that eco-warrior colleague: the front windscreen is 1.2 kg less than before with the use of a high-tech plastic membrane that enables the glass to be thinner without compromising on the sound insulation properties. 

The single biggest failing of this C180K BlueEfficency model would be the fact that the Stop/start technology is not available locally. Since all Singapore bound cars come with a five-speed automatic transmission that doesn’t accommodate the Stop/start technology.

Entertaining drive yet retains a comfortable ride
From behind the wheel, again there’s precious little to suggest that this is a pseudo eco-mobile. There are no ‘green’ logos splashed around the interior and without the novelty of stop-start the driving experience is remarkably, well, normal.

The other C-class strengths are still present, naturally. Its rides more on the side of comfort compared to a BMW 3-series’ or an Audi A4, while maintaining an entertaining and able chassis.

The Mercedes cabin is still a fabulous place to spend time in; the soft-touch materials feel luxurious, fit and finish are excellent and the ergonomics of the interior is flawless.

Retailing at S$138,888, the Mercedes Benz C180K BlueEfficency does all the things expected from the prestigious marque and made a small step in the right direction towards a cleaner environment. 

Engine 1,597 cc 16-valves inline-4
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Wheels Driven rear wheels
Max. Power 156bhp @5,200rpm
Max. Torque 230Nm @3,000-4,500rpm
0-100 km/h 9.9 secs
Top speed 223 km/h
Fuel Economy 7.7 litres per 100km
CO2 Emissions 183 g/km
Dimensions (L x W x H)
Price with COE* S$138,888

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