The face-lifted Mercedes-Benz C-Class was launched in East London on Monday. The C has been given a sportier look, new features and six speed manual 'boxes for better drivability.

Mercedes-Benz's C-Class has received an overhaul and now sports some new features and updated technology to give its biggest seller a new lease on life.

Launched in the Eastern Cape on Monday, Mercedes-Benz's most successful model range yet has been enhanced with exterior and interior changes.


First introduced about four years ago, the C-Class now accounts for approximately 40 per cent of the marqué's total sales.

Prices for the improved C-Class manufactured at DaimlerChrysler's East London plant are: R245 000 for the C180 K, R266 000 for the C200 K, R287 000 for the C220 CDI, while the C240 costs R316 000, the C270 CDI costs R334 000 and the C320 R362 000.

For an extra R12 000, the C180 K, C200 K and C220 CDI are also available with a five-speed automatic Touchshift option. In a first, all the saloon derivatives are also available as estate models, at an extra cost of under R10 000.

One of the most significant exterior changes is the use of nano-particle technology to produce the world's first scratch resistant paintwork. Other changes to the exterior include new clear lens bi-xenon headlights with a cornering light function, a new look to the front section incorporating the bumper, radiator and headlights.

Standard fitment of 16-inch wheels with wider tyres and the addition of side skirts and the Avantgarde bumper to the Classic and Elegance lines complete the new exterior look.

Inside, the C-Class gets redesigned front and rear seats with new designs dependent on the variants. A wider range of interior colours and panels has been added for a more modern cockpit while chrome trim has been included around the controls.

The cabin is ergonomically sound with the redesigned seats being particularly comfortable. The large dials and buttons on the centre console were, though with a bit of reach at times, easy to spot and as easy to use. The navigation system proved itself to be very capable on longer stretches of road but it was more of a hindrance in city driving when directions were imparted with little or no time to really perform procedures.

The Classic and Elegance models feature wood trim on the centre dome and console, while the Avantgarde has aluminium trim for a sportier finish. Though it did add a sportier touch, the aluminium finish became increasingly garish.

While the engines on most models remain unchanged, the four-cylinder diesel engine responsible for the smooth running of the C220 CDI's power output has been boosted from 105 kW to 110 kW.

The standard safety features - ESP, BAS, ASC, ABS, and front, side and curtain airbags as well as belt tensioners and force limiters - all helped to ensure that the C-Class was able to receive a five-star rating on its Euro NCAP tests.

The chassis, steering and manual transmission have been modified as well and are collectively referred to as Direct Control. This package includes newly developed bearings on both axles, more direct steering and a reinforced anti-roll bar.

Driving the four-cylinder 125 kW C270 CDI with its automatic transmission, we found the car to be extremely capable. Its Touchshift option was very useful where extra spurts of power were required when overtaking or negotiating trick passes.

However, the steering did feel a bit remote at times and the suspension a bit soft, bordering on iffy, when met with uneven road surfaces.

The C 320 and models fitted with the Sports package (an option at R12 500) the sports-tuned transmission has a 20 mm shorter gear lever. The six-speed manual variants' shift travel has been reduced by 20 per cent for quicker, more precise gear changes.