"Sporty performance" is not a label often used for a model in the Mercedes-Benz range of family sedans. But when it comes to the new C400 4Matic, it seems totally appropriate. The Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic compact saloon is a high-end variant of the new C-Class line-up that will arrive here later this year.
While the entry-level C-Class models such as the C200 and C250 have four-cylinder turbocharged engines to drive the rear wheels, the C400 4Matic comes with a punchy 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 to send power to all four wheels. The 4Matic permanent all-wheel-drive system splits power 45:55 between the front and rear axles - and this is achieved without the use of regular differential locks. Instead, it relies on a combination of the ESP Electronic Stability Program's drive dynamics and the 4ETS electronic traction system. As a result, 4Matic is lighter than other conventional four-wheel-drive systems, adding just 70 kg to the car's kerb weight rather than the usual 120 kg for other systems. With all-wheel-drive, traction and stability for this small but powerful Merc is increased. And because the 4Matic system is rear-biased, driving pleasure is also increased.
This C-Class brims with confidence. Its 333 hp and 480 Newton-metres of torque enable lightning fast response to pressure from the gas pedal. Yet the strong torque is deployed with maximum grip. Handling benefits from the newly developed four-link front suspension. Previously a three-link set-up, it improves steering and stability in corners. The rear suspension retains Merc's accomplished five-link set-up, which has been optimised for improved straight line stability. In a first for its segment, the C-Class can be ordered with optional air suspension or AirMatic.
Despite the newfound sportiness of its handling, the latest C-Class is actually more luxurious with a body that is longer and wider but marginally lower, and it has a 2,840 wheelbase that's been extended by 80 mm. Its styling closely follows the design language of the S-Class, both inside and outside. The cabin comes across as being especially opulent, considering its predecessor's conventional and almost basic interior.
What also stands out is the level of safety equipment. The new C-Class comes standard with Collision Prevention Assist Plus, which includes autonomous braking in case the driver does not do so to avoid, say, another car or a pedestrian. Other equipment that stand out include an Adaptive Brake with brake priming and brake drying functions, Steer Control steering assist function, Crosswind Assist, Torque Vectoring Brake and Attention Assist. All these make for safe driving. But most of all, they make the C400 4Mati surprisingly an athletic alternative that's fun to drive.
Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic
Engine 2,996cc V6 turbocharged
Transmission 7-speed 7G-Tronic automatic
Max power 333 hp rpm
Max torque 480 Nm
Top speed 250 kmh
Distributor Cycle & Carriage
Tel 6298 1818