Hi-tech upgrade of Mercedes-Benz’s C-class saloon to set new standards for cars of its kind

Just in time to add to your New Year wish list comes Mercedes-Benz’s latest version of its C-Class compact saloons. And what a high-tech feast it is.

The fifth generation of M-B’s biggest-seller will debut at next month’s Detroit Motor Show.

The German giant says it will set new standards in the premium mid-range class – equivalent to an airline-style upgrade.

High-tech feast: Mercedes-Benz's latest C-class compact saloon

High-tech feast: Mercedes-Benz’s latest C-class compact saloon

A host of new electronic driving aids includes clever systems to help avoid low-speed dings and prevent or mitigate the impact of higher-speed crunches.

The styling is sporty and slightly aggressive, while the updated interior features a large, tablet-like display screen across the centre console.

It promises improved ride, handling and comfort thanks to new suspension.

The preceding model, launched in 2007, sold more than 2.4 million worldwide; 165,194 in the UK.

To take account of people getting larger, the C-Class has grown about nearly four inches in length, is nearly two inches wider, and has a bigger boot. All switches feature a highquality, 3-D design usually found on more luxurious cars.

There’s a smartphone-style touchpad controller in the central tunnel which lets the driver set the controls with finger strokes. A semi-automatic traffic jam assistant, at speeds less than 37 mph, follows the vehicle ahead even where lane markings are unclear or absent.

Brake Assist detects traffic crossing your path and boosts the braking force if the driver fails to apply the brakes sufficiently.

Another system detects stationary vehicles, as well as pedestrians, and brakes automatically if the driver fails to react, preventing accidents at up to 31 mph. In flowing traffic, it provides braking assistance up to 125 mph.

An improved active lanekeeping assist system prevents the car unintentionally drifting out of lane when the lane markings are broken, reducing the risk of a collision from vehicles overtaking at high speed.

Active Parking Assist allows automated parking with automatic steering and braking when manoeuvring into both parallel and end-on parking spaces.

A 360-degree camera shows the vehicle and its surroundings from a variety of perspectives, including a virtual bird’s eye view. There’s even a traffic sign and ‘Wrong-Way Alert’ which warns the driver of speed limits, noovertaking zones and no-entry signs.

It has H7 halogen headlamps as standard.

Prices and exact UK trims will be announced next year, but for a starting price don’t expect much change from £30,000.


Two electric vehicles – the Tesla S and the BMW i3 – are among the magnificent seven shortlisted for the accolade of Car of the Year 2014.

They join the conventionally fuelled Citroen C4 Picasso, Mazda 3, Mercedes-Benz S-class, the Peugeot 308 hatchback and Skoda Octavia saloon as finalists in the Continent-wide contest – a sort of automotive Eurovision, but in which no one gets ‘nul point’.

The seven finalists have been whittled down from a long-list of 32 nominees to find ‘the most outstanding new car to go on sale in the past 12 months’. The event is overseen by seven major journals, including the UK’s Autocar, with a 58-strong international jury from 23 countries. Major car-producing nations, such as Britain, Germany, Italy, France and Spain, have six jurors; smaller countries fewer.

The vehicles will be put through tests near Paris in February ahead of the final vote, with the winner announced at the Geneva motor show on March 3.

Now where is Graham Norton when you need him?


The average British driver spends 40 hours a year stuck in jams, with those in London stymied for up to twice as long at 80 hours. Gridlock is costing carcommuting households a staggering £4.4 billion a year in lost time and cash, says a new report by traffic data company INRIX and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).

It costs every household on average £498 a year, soaring to more than £1,200 in London.

Congestion in London alone accounts for £2 billion of the overall annual cost of jams, according to the report which studied congestion in the nation’s 18 largest urban areas.

The overall cost of gridlock is made up from the direct cost of wasted fuel (£441 million), the direct cost of commuter time wasted in traffic (£2.79 billion) and the indirect cost to household bills (£1.19 billion).

The average household shells out £53 on wasted fuel, £337 on wasted commuter time and £108 on household bills. But in London that soars to £1,243 per household, of which £108 is wasted fuel, £946 wasted commuter time, and £189 in extra household bills.

European director of INRIX Matt Simmons said: ‘Millions commute to work by car every day and these findings expose the significant economic impact gridlock is having on the UK economy.’


Audi, Kia and Volvo all intend to unveil sporty new compact crossover cars at next month’s Detroit motor show.


First Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has been showing off his own ‘green’ credentials by trying out the car of the year-shortlisted electric Tesla S.

It accelerates from rest to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds, has a top speed of 125 mph with a range of about 300 miles on one battery charge.

With a starting price of £54,900, it will be on sale in Britain next month. Hollywood stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are fans.

After Mr Alexander’s test drive close to his office, he said the Coalition’s commitment to electric car technology includes a £5 million pilot to convert public sector car fleets including ministerial cars to electric.

Christmas party poopers might suggest that privately he may not be too happy about everyone else driving one, because cars that run on electric power, rather than petrol or diesel, don’t rake in the 60p in every pound in tax paid from drivers – that’s both fuel duty and VAT – which pours billions into government coffers.


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