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The Mercedes-Benz C160 is a quiet and discreet compact saloon that delivers unrivalled comfort for its price.

20 Mar 2020


We've had a bevy of luxury German compacts hitting our shores lately, such that those looking for sheer handling prowess have the BMW 1 Series, and those that prefer straight-line acceleration and a bit of automotive jewellery have the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon.

Those looking for something quirky meanwhile have the CLA Shooting Brake and, of course, the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe has also recently made touchdown to battle the CLA Coupe in the compact four-door coupe segment.

But all these cars, as I'm sure you'd agree, can be a tad flashy. So what should a shopper - who is looking for something inconspicuous and subtle - buy? Cycle and Carriage thinks it may have just the answer for those willing to shop just a segment higher with this little number: The Mercedes-Benz C160.

Classy number

Curvaceous styling gives the C160 discretion where rivals are more ostentatious
For sure, you still get the large Mercedes-Benz badge on the front grille that features on all Avantgarde cars, but otherwise, the C160 is one discreet number.

A design that favours sweeping curves over angular features, coupled with the fact that the other variants of the C-Class have become ubiquitous at every Singapore carpark, give the C160 a proper ability to blend right into the background.

Elegant dancer

The car is badged as a C160, of course, given that its turbocharged 1.5-litre engine now produces 127bhp, which relegates it to the bottom of the C-Class's range.

The 1.5-litre turbocharged engine brings the C-class to 100km/h from a standstill in 10.3 seconds
In the compact executive saloon, that equates to a leisurely zero to 100km/h sprint time of 10.3 seconds. Thus, those seeking the thrill of being pinned against their seats will find the C160 lacking.

Calm things out a bit, however, and the C160's qualities as a compact executive sedan become much more apparent.

For driving around traffic, the car disguises its low power output with 210Nm of torque available from as early as 1,400rpm, allowing you to make smooth and steady progress. The nine-speed automatic gearbox also makes good use of that torque available, snatching the right ratio quickly enough and delivering near-unperceivably smooth shifts.

I found the engine note to be a little agricultural right around 2,800rpm, but the cabin is well-isolated from the engine's racket.

Ride quality is excellent despite 17-inch run-flat tyres
The car's highway cruising prowess is added onto by the gearbox's ability to decouple itself from the engine when cruising on the highway in 'eco' mode, allowing the motor to run at idle for a quieter motorway experience.

Wind and tyre noise are also kept to a minimum when driving at speed, and the ride quality is genuinely something to be marvelled.

The car glides over all manners of road imperfections, and body control is excellent when traversing unruly roads. You will still get the occasional crashing from driving over sharp edges, but I happen to know for a fact that this can be easily rectified by swapping out the car's ContactSport SSR run-flat tyres.

Comfortable home

Anodised aluminium switchgear and ambient lighting add a luxurious feel to the cabin
The cabin of the C160 contrasts sharply with the discreet exterior, displaying far more design flair. Your eyes immediately rest upon the 10.25-inch infotainment display and the silver air-conditioning vents, while the anthracite open-pore oak wood trim on the centre console is both a visual and tactile delight.

Material finish and apparent build quality are excellent, and the anodised aluminium window and parking brake controls add a nice luxurious touch to the cabin. All seats are comfortable to sit in and provide plenty of support.

At the rear, foot and kneeroom are far from class-leading (try out the Volvo S60 if that is your priority) but passengers here get airplane seat-like covered seat pockets rather than the mesh netting that is standard across the segment.

Should you get one?

Air-conditioning vents and open-pore oak wood trim on the centre console serve as visual highlights
At $179,888, the C160 is $5,000 cheaper than the former bottom-of-the-range C180. But more critically, the Mercedes-Benz A180 Saloon, which delivers that oh-so-important badging and a sedan body with 134bhp, is also available from just $128,000 (all prices are as of 12 March 2020).

Hence, those looking for a healthy serving of power alongside their Mercedes-Benz may find the C160 a difficult proposition to justify.

But as a comfortable and discreet sedan, I suspect the C160 will make for an appealing option amongst the vieux riche looking for something to simply cruise around town in.
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Car Information

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Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon C160 Avantgarde (A)
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Price

: $177,888

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1497cc

Horsepower

:

95kW (127 bhp) / 5300 rpm

Torque

:

210 Nm / 4000 rpm

Transmission

:

9G-Tronic (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

10.3sec

Top Speed

:

208km/h

Fuel consumption

:

15.6 km/L

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