There’s no doubt BMW stole a lead over Mercedes with its economical EfficientDynamics models. Now, though, the three- pointed star is set to respond with its own line of fuel-sipping BlueEFFICIENCY machines.
First to go on sale is the entry-level C180K. Instead of employing the stop-start system favoured by BMW, Mercedes has chosen to downsize. The C-Class’s 1.8-litre engine has been replaced by a 1.6-litre, still boosted by a supercharger. It produces 156bhp and 230Nm of torque from 3,000rpm.
There is plenty of pulling power and drivers can move quickly through the gears – which is key to the new car’s efficiency. Mercedes has fitted a dashboard indicator telling you when to change up. And even when the light advises you to select fifth at 30mph, the car copes well.
In addition, lower suspension, energy-saving tyres and more aerodynamic door mirrors help make the C-Class more slippery.
The manufacturer claims the newcomer returns an average of 44.8mpg and emits 149g/km of CO2. This isn’t quite as good as a 3-Series, but represents an improvement of nearly 10 per cent on the standard C-Class.
Adding to the appeal is the fact the BlueEFFICIENCY costs no more than the 1.8, plus is £50 a year cheaper to tax and has better predicted residuals.
Rival: BMW 3-Series
with the EfficientDynamics system, the 3-Series adds strong fuel economy and low emissions to its list of talents. It’s already in the top 10 of the UK sales charts with its blend of agility and quality.
* Price: £23,350
* Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 156bhp
* Transmission: Six-speed manual
* 0-62/top spd: 9.5 secs/143mph
* Economy: 44.8mpg
* Standard equipment: ESP stability control, electric windows, alarm, Bluetooth, auto headlamps, side, curtain and driver’s knee airbags
* On sale: Now