160. That is an awfully “small” number. But I’ll get to that shortly.
First, let me adjust my electric seats and get my steering wheel into position (via electric motors, of course).
I will select my favourite media source on the super-crisp 10.25 inch infotainment screen via a touch sensitive thumb controller on the steering wheel.
Then choose what type of digital gauge I want. This car comes with everything but the kitchen sink.
Actually, the missing kitchen sink also contains in-built navigation and most active safety features except forward collision warning.
Which means that the Mercedes-Benz C160 is an extremely astute exhibition of intelligent specification.
It has electric practically everything, including the boot lid, and all the convenience features you are likely to use on a regular basis.
With smartphone mirroring, the navigation issue is rendered moot. The recent facelift also amped up the mood lighting to a relaxing and tasteful degree.
If you wanted a lesson in picking luxury features you will need and notice and leaving out those you do not and will not, you could do much worse than study the brochure of the Mercedes-Benz C160.
Did you realise the seats are “Artico” synthetic leather rather than real hides from dead cows? I bet you didn’t.
The chairs are comfy (with lots of thigh support!) and the space is more than reasonable. The interior environment is the same immensely classy, beautifully rendered constellation of artful construction we have always known from the C-Class.
Except now it’s jazzed up with a frisson more modernity.
SEDATE AND SUBLIME
It is time to go do Mercedes-people things. Off to my business meeting at my business place with my business people. Via the CTE. Drive on!
The first thing you notice rolling out of the carpark and onto the main road is the sublime ride. The Mercedes-Benz C160 is equally adept at rounding off larger bumps and the high frequency patter of an uneven road taken at a canter.
This squidginess is satisfyingly mirrored in the control surfaces. Even the Goldilocks thickness (not too thin, not too fat) of the steering wheel feels entirely appropriate for the way the car goes down the road.
The entire C160 driving experience has the forgiving but deftly controlled texture of one of Sealy’s more expensive mattresses.
Suitably sedate, suitably easygoing, yet with enough authority over its body to never bounce you off onto the floor.
It never succumbs to wallowing motions even when barrelling inadvisably down the PIE (Tuas) off-ramp.
So that is how the Mercedes-Benz C160 approaches the temperament of its driver.
It has, in fact, quite an expertly measured ride/handling balance for something fortuitously blessed with absolutely no sporting pretensions whatsoever.
No, you cannot get an AMG Line, nor should you. Shame on you.
THE ISSUE AT HAND
Now it is just as well that the Mercedes-Benz C160 is super comfy because we can finally usher in the elephant in the room.
Is the C160 a step too far down the power ladder? How far can you choke an engine before the illusion of high-SES is melted?
This is as small a number that has ever been appended to the shapely bum of a C-Class. And it hangs like an albatross around the otherwise hugely attractive C-Class’ neck.
It is shock, horror, and sacre-bleu! A Category A car!
HITTING THE SWEET SPOT
Before driving the Mercedes-Benz C160, I was tempted to make all kinds of mean jokes. Jokes that will get me banned forever from Daimler’s press fleet. Here are a few samples.
“The C160 is for people who have won the rat race… and see no need to win a road one.” Boom!
“129 is a huge number for chicken nuggets. For horsepower? Not so much.” Kapow!
Hardy har har. Also entirely unfair. Because this is a philosophical question as much as it is a practical one. Luxury is, after all, superiority and effortlessness.
Power is inseparable from the concept. I shall go ahead and answer it now. It is good enough. Excellent, in fact. The car never feels leaden-footed. It is sufficiently muscular. Just about.
And arguably not one iota more than necessary. The Mercedes-Benz C160 might very well be the sweet spot.
Some perspective. Automotive history is littered with luxury execs weaker than this (Remember the 316i?).
And none are quite as well judged. Remember that there have been and there still are BMWs and Audis out there that are even slower.
Mercedes’ own previous generation CLA180 has even fewer horses under the bonnet. But that did the car’s popularity no harm at all.
In fact, with the Mercedes-Benz C160’s silky smooth and very smart 9-speed automatic gearbox managing the output and a healthy slug of turbo boost, the car can keep its three-pointed snout ahead of most “regular” cars.
More important still is the manner of the power delivery. Which is as proportionate, syrupy and pleasant as they come.
Certainly, it feels better than BMW’s previous generation F30 318i, which was slightly faster but felt like it was having an asthma attack.
Does it bring something unique to the table for its price? Yes. The Mercedes-Benz C160 is automotive Diazepam. And that is exactly what the doctor ordered.
In the C160, there nothing unnecessary. No irritating “features”, no surfeit of power and no contrived sense of sportiness to distract you.
The Mercedes-Benz C160 a pure luxury car, with no sharp edges to its existence or operation.
The A200 may be cheaper, more powerful, and more disco-tastic but it has a spikier persona that is quite different indeed.
How about that. A Mercedes that is a lesson in prudence. Now that’s priceless. You may buy in peace and pride and vindication.
Just remember to tick the badge-delete box on your order form.
Mercedes-Benz C160 Avantgarde 1.5 (A)
ENGINE 1497cc in-line-4, 16 valves, turbocharged
MAX POWER 129hp at 5300rpm
MAX TORQUE 210Nm at 1400-4000rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 85.7hp per tonne
GEARBOX 9-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 10.3 seconds
TOP SPEED 208km/h
CONSUMPTION 15.6km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 145g/km
PRICE INCL. COE $179,888 (after $10k VES surcharge)
AGENT Cycle & Carriage Industries