2016 Mercedes-Benz C200 4matic (W205)

Earlier this year I got the opportunity to take out a new C200 4Matic for a couple days. It was my first opportunity with the W205, and quite an enjoyable one too. Mine came out in the new Brilliant Blue colour, which suits the car really well. The car further had the AMG suspension and trim kits. It had the 7 Speed DCT gearbox fitted.

terrible quality photo of the car I had

terrible quality photo of the car I had

With a starting price of R495,000, these are not cheap cars. The model I had had a plethora of extras, pushing the retail price all the way up to R631,500. So I packed in some friends and did a mini-road trip covering 1500km and various terrain over a few days. It is a really nice car. A noticeable upgrade to the W204, interior is impeccable, and the shape has started to grow on me.

The car seated 4 of us comfortably. Leg room in the rear is sufficient, if not great, and the coupe sloping rear window does not impede head room. The boot was large enough, but feels smaller than that of the CLA. There is a surprisingly large storage area underneath the boot, where a spare-wheel would have gone in a previous car, although not large enough to support even a modern-day space-saver (I did at least get run-flats). The back row does have space and a seat-belt for a 3rd person, but this would be quite tight, and the space is put to better use by the armrest (with storage compartment and cupholders).

The C200 is a 1.9 litre turbocharged engine, putting out 135kw. The engine has 4 driving modes, Economy, Comfort, Sports and Sports+. It’s nice and easy to flip through these settings (better than the 204), and each one adjusts the engine/transmission, steering and aircon performance. I’m not 100% sure, but it seemed to affect the stiffness of the suspension as well. Maybe this was just in my mind, but we did some very scientific tests driving over speedbumps and it seemed to have an affect.

I spent 80% of the time in Sports mode, 15% in Sports+, and only the remainder in Comfort. And I noticed this when I filled up with petrol. The car has claimed consumption figures of between 4.4 and 7.3 l/100km. I averaged 9.5 at normal highway cruising speeds. The car had the extended range fuel tank, which can take somewhere over 70litres, including the reserve. Which gives you a really great range, especially for South Africa.

Driving mode selector (source: Mercedes-Benz)

Driving mode selector (source: Mercedes-Benz)

The entertainment system and centre console is mostly well put together. All the functionality worked and was relatively easy to navigate. The car had the standard Merc joystick, but included the optional touchpad. The touchpad is terrible. I really didn’t like using it, and ended up disabling it. Maybe it would have gotten better with more use, but I found it much easier to navigate with the joystick. Additional USB and SD card inputs are located within the centre armrest, which is convenient.

Centre console touchpad (source: Mercedes-Benz)

Centre console touchpad (source: Mercedes-Benz)

Although this car didn’t have it, a heads-up-display (HUD) is an optional extra on the C-Class. I’ve driven short distances in a car which has this option, and it’s really great. It displays your speed, navigation information and other info on the windscreen in front of you. It worked well even in bright daylight. Definitely recommended if it’s in your price range.

Heads Up Display source: Mercedes-Benz

Heads Up Display (source: Mercedes-Benz)

As mentioned, this car came fitted with Merc’s all wheel drive system, 4matic. It was my first time driving an all-wheel drive sedan, and what a pleasure. No matter the corner you take, the car just sticks. It was a pleasure to drive, and something I’d love to test out round a track. While we did do a few short sections on gravel, the cars AMG suspension made this unenjoyable, extremely harsh, and completely put me off trying to test out its all wheel drive capabilities.

While the car was comfortable to drive, and came with electronically adjustable seats and steering wheel, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the steering wheel wasn’t centred around the driver’s seat, and that it was slightly more towards the centre of the car. It didn’t bother me too much, but after long stretches, I needed a bit of a stretch.

The car was fitted with two unusual extras for South Africa. Firstly seat warmers, and secondly a remote control to activate heating in the car. Even though it was well over 20 degrees C outside we tested out the seat warmers which blow nice hot air at the driver and front passenger’s bodies. The remote control makes use of an additional petrol powered heating unit in the engine bay to warm up the cabin. It can be activated from inside your house a few minutes before you have to go somewhere, so when you get to your car, it’s already warm.

I really enjoyed my time with the car. As mentioned, a definite upgrade on the 204, and noticeably placed in a higher class than the CLA to which I was accustomed. The C200 is an acceptable version, although with the extra wait of the 4matic, a larger engine would be preferable. That being said, it cruises easily, and is happy to drop gears when the need for overtaking is required. A well put together car, the trim is exceptional (especially the black ash in this model), and it was a pleasure to drive.

Collision Prevention Assist Plus Inoperative

My first experience with Collision Prevention Assist was in my boss’ E-Class. It was a small red light on the dashboard which I figured out came on when I got too close to cars in front of me while driving.

Then I got an A-Class and learnt a bit more about it. It wasn’t so basic. If it thought you might not be paying attention it would beep loudly (shout in my terminology) at you to warn you that you might be about to crash.

Then I heard stories from a colleague who says he was driving on the highway, came up behind a car and all of a sudden his car automatically slammed on brakes. And this was also the fault of Collision Prevention Assistance Plus.

Now I’ve had it beep at me many times, and with my CLA it has also actually lightly engaged the brakes, but not once has it been in an instance of real danger. In my opinion. It happens most often when you’re driving behind a car and they turn off the road you’re on, slowing down considerably. I however maintain my speed because I’m driving straight. The car doesn’t know they’re turning and so warns you of your impending demise.

It is however an important safety feature, and the one time it saves you from an accident will be worth all the false-positives.

Not too unhappy am I then when I turn on my car a few weeks ago to be greeted by a yellow message saying “Collision Prevention Assist Plus Inoperative”. I check the manual and it says I must drive slowly and take the car to a dealer. This is 16h00 the day before I’m supposed to go on a 3,000km road trip. So what do I do? I find a dirt road, check the ABS and traction control are still functioning and decide to take my chances. As far as I can tell the car functioned exactly as normal besides the lack of this one function. And it was actually quite nice, because with it inoperative, it was unable to beep at me.

2015-09-09 08.16.50Eventually though, several weeks after it started warning me I took it in to the dealership. They kept it for the morning and told me they did a software update, now the message is gone, hopefully for good.

From what I’ve read on forums and discussed with other drivers, it’s not an altogether uncommon occurrence amongst CLA and GLA drivers. And in most cases a software update fixes the problem for good.

Discalimer: When I took the car in the service agent told me if they couldn’t fix it they would have to keep it overnight, as they can’t let me drive with one of the safety functions malfunctioning. Fair enough. What it does mean is that I (and you) should definitely not drive an additional 3,000 km before taking the car to be checked out.

2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA200 (C117)

After 8 months with the A200, I’ve managed a switch to the CLA200. What is this? Well it’s the A-class that they made a bit longer and chopped the hatch off. Although it looks a bit like a sedan, Mercedes naming conventions have it down as a coupĂ©. This is further aligned by the limited head-space for the rear seat passengers.

The CLA by name is not an A-Class, but by every other measure it is. Both cars share interior and exterior design features, have the same engine options and are based on the same platform. The CLA was introduced 8 months after the launch of the A-Class. A CLA station wagon (or shooting brake) has been released this year, looks beautiful, but is not yet available in South Africa.

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake (this is not my car)

The specific cars (A and CLA) I drove have the identical engine, gearbox and FWD system. Sitting in the CLA feels exactly the same as sitting in the A-Class, besides the media screen’s thinner frame, and noticeable changes to the door due to the frameless doors on the CLA.

So I thought the A-Class I drove had no extras, but the CLA had even less. No ‘Mirror’ package, means the side mirrors don’t fold away (a nice visual cue for whether your car is locked or not) and also that the mirrors don’t auto dim when lights shine on them. Even with the lack of extras, the car still came with cruise-control, bluetooth and tyre pressure monitoring.

This is kinda like my car

This is kinda like my car

Outside, the bonnet has some extra styling lines, the side profile obviously differs with the boot instead of the hatch. Doors don’t have a window frame, and the stock 16″ wheels encourage an optional upgrade. Inside there are some minor design changes to the vents and trim, not specifically to my liking compared to the A-Class, but not bad. The rear seats do fold down, so I’ll still be able to get my bike in, which was something I was concerned about after the fixed rear seats of the old C-Class (split rear seats was an option).

this is my one

this is my one

The engine revving/noise seems to be tweaked slightly compared to the A-class, which means it doesn’t sound as strained. I also feel that the way it manages gears has also been tweaked slightly for the better, meaning I no longer have the issue of being in the wrong- or out of a gear when leaving a speed bump.

Although the CLA is marginally heavier (like 30kg) than the A-class, it still manages improved fuel-economy figures. Partially due to the car’s lower wind-resistance profile and partially due to an added ‘Charge’ fuel-saving feature. Only time will tell how accurate this is. Over the 18,810 km I did in the A-Class, I averaged 8.7 l/100km.2015-06-22 16.45.52

Overall I do like the CLA more. It’s a nicer looking car; I’ve always preferred a sedan shape to a hatchback (although the shooting brake really does take the cake) and I also feel it drives nicer than the A-Class. Suspension seems marginally stiffer, but this may be because I’m comparing a brand new CLA to an A-Class with several thousand Ks on the clock.2015-06-22 16.45.41

Another nice car, nothing amazing from Mercedes, but good looking, comfortable and decent handling. A very expensive car for what is a small sedan, but it is a premium brand, and the price is only marginally more than what you’d pay for the equivalent A3 sedan.

2014 Mercedes-Benz A200 (W176)

So after saying goodbye to my C350 earlier this year after a short three months, I switched back to my Audi, but last month got my hands on a new A200. Which I’ll most likely be driving for the next year. And it’s nice.

The model I have is pretty much stock. It’s got the 7 Speed dual clutch auto (7G-DCT) (although I would have preferred a manual), and cruise-control, but otherwise as stock as it gets. It does not have a spare tyre, not even a space-saver. Which isn’t great for our roads, but I’m hoping to not have to test out the run-flats in any case. They didn’t have stock of tow-bars when I ordered it, but a Westfalia fold-away-able ball was installed shortly thereafter.

benz badge

The car goes well. Front-wheel drive, with a 1.6 litre turbo-charged engine producing somewhere around 115kw. A good 20 more than my Audi, although it does weigh an extra 200kg, putting it at close to 1.5tons. It still manages a 0-100 speed of 8.6s though and has plenty of umph for overtaking.

The car itself is comfortable. At 6’2″ I fit in quite nicely, with enough space for an equally sized person to sit behind me (although preferably only two people in the back). Manual seat adjustments are adequate along with the steering adjustment, pretty standard on current day cars. I’ll be doing a 1,000km trip at the end of the year so I’ll see what it’s like for extended periods then, up till now I’ve done a 200km trip without hassle.

2015-01-07 19.33.46

Fuel economy is not as good as I expected. Obviously how you drive does affect this. The car only has a 50l tank, which is a bit frustrating for me coming from the 65l in my Audi. Around town I’m usually only getting around 10l/100km, maybe slightly less. If I put some effort into it I can bring that down to 9. This is not necessarily only my driving style, but the type of driving I have to do.

On the open road I managed 7.9l/100km, but I’m quite sure I can improve on that, and will be testing it out again this coming weekend (EDIT: Got it down to 6.8l/100km). This is better than what my Audi got :)

A200 Instrument Panel

In typical Mercedes style, the ride itself is comfortable and rattles and wind-noise are minimal. At highway cruising speeds you don’t notice anything and the car feels like it can handle much higher speeds with ease. With a top speed of 220km/h, it’d be nice to get the car on a track some time.

The steering wheel, radio and much of the controls are straight out of the previous C-Class (204). So I felt right at home. Centre console and armrest are slightly different, with the gear lever now located off the steering column on the right, following the latest Merc trend. This gives a bit extra space for compartments. There are also small compartments in front of each of the front seats, as well as a nice sunglasses pocket by the review mirror which my sunglasses don’t fit in.


A moderate boot can be expanded immensely by the 60-40 split rear seats, large enough for a MTB bike without its wheels, or large TV. Ski’s may still provide a challenge, alas not one I will face. Climate control is a R7 500 extra, something I didn’t think I’d miss until I started driving this car. It handles well enough, sticks nicely in the corners, although body roll is noticeable at speed. It has a sensor for if it thinks you are driving too close behind someone. A red light comes on on the dash. And it beeps at you if it thinks you are going to crash into them. It has beeped at me many times, not always because of my ‘bad’ driving style at the time.

It’s a nice car. I’m really enjoying it. Visibility isn’t great, but I suspect the car will handle a roll quite well with the massive C pillars. Fuel consumption isn’t as good as I was expecting. I would have to spend more time in the Audi and BMW competitors before I could make a decision, But the ‘new’ A-class is definitely a hit and well up to standard.