18 August 1995

SEDATE, BUT ITS SO SLOW

TO DEPRECIATE

In this months Country

Car Mercedes baby

C-Class forces a smile from Andrew Faulkner while David Cousins

gets fresh in Peugeots

air-conditioned 405.

Andrew Pearce tries Vauxhalls Doublecab

pick-up and visits the

UKs biggest 4×4 auction

MERCEDES and money, the two words are almost synonymous. Getting hold of the former invariably means parting with large sums of the latter.

And the C-Class 250 diesel is no exception. Priced at £24,550 in mid-spec Elegance trim, the 250 is no low cost diesel option. Even among its equally prestigious but bigger compatriots – the Audi A6 TDI SE (£21,850) and BMW 525tds SE (£25,590) – Mercedes baby still looks expensive.

But, as the Stuttgart-based firm is quick to point out, the equation is not that simple. Depreciation is a vehicles biggest single running cost and while other cars depreciation curves tend to plummet downhill fast the Mercedes is more akin to a gentle nursery slope.

So, accepting that Mercedes and affordable motoring dont have to be diametric opposites, what does the C250 have to offer?

Not on the list is the punchy turbocharged performance of its rivals. Although the five-cylinder, naturally aspirated Mercedes unit has comparable power (113hp), the all-important torque statistics are rather more modest. Maximum torque is a lowly 128lb ft, which arrives at a premature 3800rpm, whereas the sector norm is more like 180lb ft+ at 2000rpm.

These figures translate into a car that has to be driven hard to get the best from its multi-valve motor. Long distance cruising is the 250s forte; a sharp performer through the bends, its not.

Such cruising characteristics are complemented by the cars other strengths – 1.5t of reassuring metalwork between you and the rest, vacuum-boosted servo brakes to anchor that weight and a comfortable cabin.

Climb inside, shut the door and Mercedes true pedigree makes itself known. Quiet, understated and tasteful, there is no brash gadgetry just simple switchgear and conservative controls.

Lastly, no drive in a Mercedes would be complete without a mention of those sensational seats. Some say they have the unyielding feel of a park bench – not I. Anyone who lifted too much too young appreciates the benefits of a hard mattress and a firm seat. Mercedes has mastered the art of getting the seats supportive bits to fit in all the right places.

The verdict. The C250 diesel is not a young bucks car, it is too sedate, too understated and boasts little to excite. It is more for someone who has come to terms with a milder and more mature approach to motoring.