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Motoring News

2022 MERCEDES-BENZ C 200

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2022 MERCEDES-BENZ C 200

By ALISTAIR KENNEDY

Styling of latest Mercedes-Benz C-Class copies its premium S-Class sibling.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class has been around in Australia since 1993 and has consistently been the company’s biggest selling model, at least until the last few years when overtaken by a number of SUV variants.

C-Class comes in three body styles: coupe, convertible and sedan each with the choice of 1.5-litre (C 200) or 2.0-litre (C 300) engines. Note that only the sedan versions have beengiven an upgrade at this time, the two-doors will arrive next year as will high-performance C43 and C63 AMG models.

Our test car was a fully-optioned C 200 sedan.

STYLING
The latest Merc C-Class sedan follows similar lines as its large S-Class sibling with similar coupe-like profile and scalable lines. A long bonnet and shorter front overhang highlights this sleek appearance.

The oval grille features a single horizontal bar with the iconic three-pointed star in the centre of the grille. In a clever piece of design, the grille infill comprises hundreds of tiny matching stars.

Both the C 200 and C 300 have the AMG Line kit and body styling fitted as standard as well as 19-inch five-spoke AMG alloy wheels.

There are ten colour choices, nine of them being $2500 metallic options.

Styling features with the optional Vision Package include a dual-pane panoramic sunroof

INTERIOR
The interior of the C-Class inherits a number of design features from the S-Class and it brings a real premium look that hasn’t been there in previous models.

The 2022 upgrade C-Class sedan gets a longer wheelbase than the previous model which converts into extra rear seat legroom.

You can store your user preferences and log into the car using a fingerprint scanner which allows multiple drivers to preset their seat position and cabin set up configured as soon as they activate their profile.

Boot capacity is 475 litres expandable with the rear seatbacks folded. This can be done without entering the car via small levers on either side of the boot’s interior.

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Mercedes C 200 is powered by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine with outputs of 150 kW and 300 Nm of torque from a very handy 1800 rpm linked with a 48-volt mild-hybrid (MHEV) starter-generator that sits between the electric motor and nine-speed G-Tronic automatic transmission.

The C 300 has a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol MHEV that generates 190 kW and 400 Nm.

SAFETY
Standard safety features in the C 200 include 10 airbags, including pelvic and thorax bags for the driver and front passenger; enhanced ABS brakes with hold and brake drying functions; autonomous emergency braking; adaptive cruise control; electronic stability program with acceleration skid control; active bonnet; lane keeping assist; blind spot monitoring; active distance assist; active parking assist; front and rear parking sensors; extended run-flat tyres; hill start assist; speed limit assist; and tyre pressure monitoring.

The optional Driving Assistance Plus package adds active blind spot assist; active brake assist; cross traffic alert; active distance assist; active emergency stop assist; lane change assist; steering assist; stop-and-go assist; evasive steering assist; and traffic sign recognition.

INFOTAINMENT
Unlike the E 350 that we drove recently which uses a wide, narrow infotainment screen, the C 200 takes a different approach with a 11.9-inch portrait tablet-like high-definition touchscreen occupying most of the depth of the dashboard.

The new C-Class gets the latest version of the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) with nice large tabs

The second screen is a fully-digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster that can be customised in a variety of ways.

Both the screens can be adjusted via small controls in the twin-spoke steering wheel while the ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice command system proves a third, even safer, way of operating controls.

Other features include premium satellite navigation with live traffic updates, parked vehicle locator; smartphone integration with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay; DAB+ digital radio; and emergency calling.

There are two USB-C ports in the centre console and another at the bottom of the dashboard next to the wireless smartphone charging pad. None in the rear.

DRIVING
The coupe-like roofline is likely to make entry and exit a bit awkward for taller occupants but once ensconced the front seats are large, supportive and comfortable. By necessity the driving position was lower than we prefer but that’s normal in passenger cars of this ilk.

There’s good rear leg and headroom for four adults without any compromise required from those in the front seats. The centre rear seat is really only suitable for children. Again, this is pretty well the norm for cars of this size.

We loved the tablet-style infotainment screen, positioned in the centre and slightly angled towards, and within easy reach of the driver.

Our test car came with the optional head-up display but the number of features occupied far more of the windscreen than we liked.

One of the most impressive features of the C 200 is its fuel consumption. Listed at 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres, we averaged 7.1 L/100 km during our test and even managed 6.0 L/100km on our 100 km return trip from Gosford to Sydney.

The nine-speed automatic shifted smoothly at all times with steering wheel-mounted paddles there if needed.

The feel of the brake pedal changes as you switch from regeneration mode to friction (normal) braking. During our testing we gradually became used to the feel.

While the C-Class isn’t designed as a sports machine you can set it up in sporty mode for more spirited driving.

Handling is precise and the car responds nicely to inputs through the steering wheel.

SUMMING UP

Mercedes-Benz has tackled the tricky task of packing the luxury of its large S-Class into the mid-sized C-Class and done a pretty good job of it. It has come at a cost though, with the new C 200 priced at just under $80,000 before options and on-road costs.

RATINGS
Looks: 8/10
Performance: 8/10
Safety: 9/10
Thirst: 9/10
Practicality: 8/10
Comfort: 8/10
Tech: 9/10
Value: 7/10

AT A GLANCE

MODEL RANGE

C 200 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four-door sedan: $78,000

C 300 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-door sedan: $90,400

Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mercedes-Benz dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Mercedes-Benz C 200 MHEV 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four-door sedan)

ENGINE:

Capacity: 1.496 litres

Configuration: Four cylinders in line

Maximum Power: 150 kW @ 5800 rpm

Maximum Torque: 300 Nm @ 1800 rpm

Fuel Type: Premium unleaded petrol

Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.9 L/100km

CO2 Emissions: 157 g/km

DRIVELINE: Nine-speed automatic

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:

Length: 4751 mm

Wheelbase: 2865 mm

Width: 1820 mm

Height: 1437 mm

Turning Circle: 10.6 metres

Kerb Mass:1550 kg

Fuel Tank Capacity: 66 litres

BRAKES:

Front: Ventilated disc

Rear: Ventilated disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:

Five years / unlimited kilometres

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Nissan Keeps All Options Open for Qashqai SUV: Petrol, Hybrid, and Electric

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Nissan Keeps All Options Open for Qashqai SUV: Petrol, Hybrid, and Electric

 

By Jeff Gibbs

Nissan is set to maintain a versatile approach for its Qashqai SUV, continuing to offer petrol, hybrid, and electric powertrains to cater to varying market demands. While the next-generation all-electric Qashqai is on the horizon, Australia is likely to continue with petrol and e-Power options for the time being.

Continued Production of All Powertrains

Nissan’s Sunderland plant in the UK will keep producing the Qashqai for global markets, complemented by production in Dalian, China, for the local market with partner Dongfeng. The Sunderland facility supplies Qashqais to over 100 countries, including Australia. Speaking to Australian media, Nissan’s Senior Vice-President and Chief Planning Officer for the AMIEO (Africa, Middle East, India, Europe, and Oceania) region, Francois Bailly, confirmed that the electric Qashqai will not replace existing models but will be produced concurrently to meet diverse market needs.

Electrification Strategy and Market Adaptation

Bailly emphasized the variability in market readiness for electrification. “The markets around the world are so diverse, there’s a speed of electrification that we could imagine different technologies at the same time in different markets,” he said. However, he did not confirm the all-electric Qashqai for Australia specifically, noting the growing but still relatively low EV market share in the region.

Current and Future Qashqai Offerings in Australia

In Australia, the Qashqai is available with two powertrain options:

  • A 110kW/250Nm 1.3-litre turbo-petrol engine.
  • A 140kW/330Nm e-Power range-extender hybrid, which pairs a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor driving the front wheels.

For emissions-restricted markets like Europe, the Sunderland factory also builds a mild-hybrid version.

The facelifted Qashqai, expected to arrive in Australian showrooms by the end of the year, will likely retain the current powertrain options. It will feature updated exterior styling, improved cabin materials, and a new Google-powered infotainment system, although the latter is yet to be confirmed for Australia.

Investment and Production Plans

To prepare for the new all-electric Qashqai, Nissan has invested an additional £30 million ($AU57.7 million) in the Sunderland plant to accommodate the installation of heavy battery packs and high-voltage components. The Qashqai EV will share the production line with the internal combustion engine and e-Power hybrid versions, as well as the Juke small SUV and the upcoming new-generation Leaf crossover. This strategy allows for a seamless transition from the current Qashqai to the new models, ensuring continuous production of the popular SUV.

In conclusion, Nissan’s multipronged approach with the Qashqai ensures that the SUV remains adaptable to market trends and consumer needs, offering a blend of petrol, hybrid, and electric options. This flexibility positions the Qashqai to effectively meet the demands of diverse global markets, including Australia.

 

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Cadillac’s Future Sedans: Embracing Electric Power

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Cadillac’s Future Sedans: Embracing Electric Power

 

By Jeff Gibbs

Cadillac, the luxury arm of General Motors (GM), has reaffirmed its commitment to sedans, hinting at a future where these models could be electric. This revelation was made by Mike Simcoe, GM’s Vice President of Global Design, during a recent media roundtable. Simcoe, an Australian and former design boss of Holden, emphasized that while SUVs dominate the market, sedans remain a vital part of Cadillac’s future, potentially powered by batteries.

A New Generation of Sedans

Despite the industry’s heavy lean towards SUVs, Cadillac is preparing to introduce a new generation of sedans. These models will be a key part of Cadillac’s lineup in the coming years, according to Simcoe. “We will certainly have a sedan in the portfolio at some point in the future,” he confirmed. This statement underscores Cadillac’s intention to diversify its offerings beyond the ubiquitous SUV trend.

The Celestiq: Cadillac’s Luxury Electric Sedan

Cadillac already offers the Celestiq, an electric vehicle that it refers to as a sedan. However, the Celestiq, priced at $US340,000 ($AU520,000), is designed to compete with ultra-luxury brands like Rolls-Royce and Bentley. This places it out of reach for most consumers, signaling Cadillac’s ambition to produce more affordable electric sedans that can cater to a broader market segment.

The Need for Affordable Electric Sedans

Simcoe indicated that while the luxury market appreciates high-end electric sedans like the Celestiq, there is a significant opportunity for more affordable electric sedans within Cadillac’s lineup. He remarked on the dominance of SUVs, calling them a “necessary evil” due to their market prevalence and practicality. However, Simcoe pointed out that many consumers, particularly those with higher disposable incomes, still desire a second vehicle that isn’t an SUV. This opens the door for sedans, especially those that are electrically powered.

Current Sedan Offerings and Performance Models

At present, Cadillac’s sedan lineup in North America includes the CT4 and CT5. These models, particularly their performance variants, are powered by twin-turbo V6 and supercharged V8 engines, aiming to rival BMW’s M3 and M5. These sedans showcase Cadillac’s commitment to performance and luxury, a tradition it aims to continue even as it shifts towards electric powertrains.

Cadillac’s Return to Australia and Electric Future

In a significant move, Cadillac announced its return to the Australian market in late 2024. This return is marked by an exclusive offering of electric vehicles, aligning with the global shift towards sustainable transportation. While Cadillac previously committed to transitioning to an all-electric lineup by 2030, recent updates indicate that petrol-powered models will continue to be manufactured into the new decade. This dual approach allows Cadillac to cater to diverse market needs while progressing towards a greener future.

Conclusion

Cadillac’s reaffirmation of its commitment to sedans, coupled with its strategic pivot towards electric vehicles, highlights the brand’s adaptive and forward-thinking approach. By continuing to innovate in the sedan segment and introducing more accessible electric models, Cadillac aims to maintain its legacy of luxury and performance. As the automotive industry evolves, Cadillac’s blend of tradition and innovation positions it well to meet the demands of modern consumers and sustain its competitive edge in the luxury market.

 

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BYD Sets Third Australian Sales Record in Four Months

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BYD Sets Third Australian Sales Record in Four Months

 

By Jeff Gibbs

In a significant achievement, BYD has set its third Australian sales record in four months, with close to 2000 electric vehicles sold last month. The momentum is set to increase further with the introduction of a new range of hybrid cars.

Record-Breaking Sales Record Performance

BYD’s sales in Australia continue to soar, driven by the growing demand for Chinese-branded cars. The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) reported that 1914 BYD electric vehicles were sold in May 2024, marking a 32% increase compared to May of the previous year. This remarkable performance underscores BYD’s rapid expansion and acceptance in the Australian market.

Upcoming Hybrid Models

The boost in BYD sales is expected to be further amplified by the upcoming launch of a new range of plug-in hybrid vehicles. This range includes a family SUV, the Sealion 6, and a utility vehicle (ute), both of which were announced last month. Although deliveries of the Sealion 6 plug-in hybrid SUV have not yet started, anticipation is high, and its introduction is expected to drive sales even higher.

Top Sellers and Market Dynamics

In May 2024, the majority of BYD’s reported sales were electric vehicles, with the Seal sedan leading the pack at 1002 units sold. This was followed by the Atto 3 with 737 units, despite a year-on-year decline of 49%, and the Dolphin with 175 units. BYD’s previous best monthly sales were recorded in March 2024 with 1622 deliveries, and in February 2024 with 1549 vehicles.

Despite BYD’s impressive performance, Tesla remains a formidable competitor, delivering nearly twice as many cars as BYD in May 2024, totaling 3567 vehicles. However, BYD’s sales trajectory is notable, with a 67% increase over the first five months of 2024 compared to the same period in the previous year. This growth positions BYD to potentially surpass 20,000 deliveries by the end of the year, though this falls short of their goal to double sales year-on-year.

Rapid Market Penetration

BYD’s rapid market penetration is unprecedented for a new automotive brand in Australia. It took BYD just one year and seven months to report more than 1900 new vehicles sold in a month. In contrast, other emerging brands such as MG, LDV, and GWM took significantly longer to achieve the same milestone, highlighting BYD’s exceptional growth rate.

Industry-Wide Trends

The rise in electric vehicle deliveries in Australia is part of a broader trend. Year-to-date, electric car sales have increased by 26.8%, totalling 40,636 vehicles. This follows a temporary dip in April 2024, the first since the pandemic. Electric vehicles accounted for 8% of new vehicle sales in May 2024, reflecting their growing popularity.

Similarly, plug-in hybrid sales have surged by 118% year-to-date, reaching 6099 deliveries. Although starting from a lower base, this growth indicates a strong interest in hybrid technology among Australian consumers.

China’s Position in the Market

China remains the third-largest source of new motor vehicles sold in Australia, trailing only Japan and Thailand. This places China ahead of other major automotive exporters like South Korea, Germany, and the United States. Sales of Chinese-made vehicles have risen by 7.9% year-to-date compared to the same period last year, further solidifying China’s role in the Australian automotive market.

Conclusion

BYD’s continued success and rapid growth in the Australian market illustrate a significant shift in consumer preferences towards electric and hybrid vehicles. With new models on the horizon and a strong sales trajectory, BYD is well-positioned to capitalize on the growing demand for environmentally friendly transportation options. This momentum not only sets a new benchmark for emerging automotive brands but also contributes to the broader adoption of sustainable technologies in Australia.

 

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