Mercedes-Benz: Mercedes-Benz CLC 200 Kompressor 2008 Review

mercedes-benz-clc-200-kompressor-fq

The road to Port Waikato is a special mix of long straights, smooth sweeping bends, and tight blind corners that are perfect to test what a car is really like. Especially a sporty coupe like the CLC 200. To get there you have to travel forty-five minutes south of Auckland.

A quick stop by the cheese shop at Mercer gave me the opportunity to try some cheese that had aged nicely. And that’s really what this Mercedes has done. It’s based on a platform that’s at least seven years old, but fortunately that platform was fairly sound to begin with. Add to it some updated electronic trickery, a new engine range, a revised interior (but not the latest C-Class one) and the latest C-Class styling with its harder edges and you get the entry point to the Mercedes-Benz rear-wheel drive experience.

I’m not going to try to decipher Mercedes’ extensive selection of brand monikers, but just when you thought they’d exhausted every combination of letters, what was the outgoing C-Class Sports Coupe has now become the CLC.  At a shade under sixty-grand with the Evolution kit as standard ($10,000 cheaper than the outgoing model) you can join 320,000 other owners worldwide who have plumped for the sporting pretensions in its previous guise as the Sports Coupe.

Our 200 Kompressor test car develops 135kW, up 15kW from the previous model, and consumes 8.4l/100km, down 0.6l. It sports a 1.8-litre supercharged engine (not a 2-litre as you’d expect from the model name), and will do the dash to a hundred in a respectable 8.6 seconds (though it feels slower because of a less than sprightly take-off while the supercharger gets going.)

Any modern sports car must feature a manual mode, and the CLC 200 does, with paddles on the steering wheel for the five-speed auto, or the ability to flick the gear lever left and right. There is a sport mode as well which changes down earlier and up later.

The biggest change in driving dynamics, though, comes with the new direct steer system. It is based on speed-sensitive powering steering, giving a variable rack ratio which changes with steering angle. The system minimises the requirements for huge steering inputs, and can make the car’s reaction time quicker in the case of taking evasive action.

The interior environment includes two-tone leather fully electric front seats, functional rear seats (often not the case in a coupe), and a smattering of alloy inserts on the dashboard.

Mercedes’ intuitive speed limiter/cruise control is included, but as always, the stalk is where the indicator should be, and the indicator stalk is too low.

Manoeuvring is made very easy with the Star Trek-esque proximity sensor Parktronic readouts on the dash and in front of the rear window, representing the front and rear of the car respectively.

Dual climate control is standard, as is a reasonably comprehensive trip computer and crisp 6-disc audio system.

Thrown in to the safety list are the usual ABS/EBD combination, traction control and ESP, and acres of airbags.

We’ve tested several cars in the C-Class range, including the excellent C220 CDI, which is undoubtedly a class above the CLC 200, but is also $13,000 more. But, there is a C200K, which at $69,900 ($10,000 more) could represent a step in the right direction as you’ll be getting all the best from the excellent C-Class range.

Don’t get me wrong — the CLC 200 is quite a good car. It has solid underpinnings and if all you are going to do is gentle driving around the city or on the highway, you won’t be disappointed with its road manners, comfort and interior appointments. Push it on the tight and twisty stuff, though, and you’ll wish you had a proper C-Class with its much more composed ride and involved drive.

Click through to the next page to read the full specifications of the Mercedes-Benz CLC 200K.

Price: from $59,900 (based); $64,100 as tested with panoramic sunroof

What we like

  • Much better quality interior than the previous model
  • Optional sunroof is worth it
  • Comfortable drive
  • Realistic price

What we don’t like

  • Rear visibility
  • Lethargic on take-off

Technical Data: Mercedes-Benz CLC 200 KOMPRESSOR

Engine

No. of cylinders/arrangement 4/in-line, 4 valves per cylinder
Displacement cc 1796
Bore x stroke mm 82.0 x 85.0
Rated output kW 135 at 5500 rpm
Rated torque Nm 250 at 2800-5000 rpm
Compression ratio 8.5 : 1
Mixture formation Microprocessor-controlled petrol injection with hot film air mass measurement (HFM), compressor supercharging

Power transfer

Transmission Five-speed automatic transmission
Ratios Final drive

1st gear

2nd gear

3rd gear

4th gear

5th gear

Reverse

3.07

3.95

2.42

1.49

1.00

0.83

3.15

Chassis

Front axle Three-link suspension, McPherson system with coil springs and gas-filled shock absorbers, stabiliser, anti-dive
Rear axle Multi-link independent suspension, coil springs and gas-filled shock absorbers, stabiliser, anti-squat and anti-dive
Braking system Hydraulic dual-circuit brakes with brake booster, stepped master brake cylinder, internally ventilated disc brakes at the front, solid at the rear, drum-type parking brake at the rear, ABS, Brake Assist, ESP®
Steering Rack-and-pinion power steering
Wheels 7.5 J x 17 (front), 8.5 J x 17 (rear)
Tyres 225/45 R 17 (front), 245/40 R 17 (rear)

Dimensions and weights

Wheelbase mm 2715
Track width, front/rear mm 1505/1476
Overall length mm 4452
Overall width mm 1728
Overall height mm 1405
Turning circle m 10.77
Boot capacity* l 310 — 1100
Kerb weight acc. to EC kg 1480
Payload kg 470
Perm. Gross vehicle weight kg 1950
Tank capacity/reserve l 62/8

Performance and fuel consumption

Acceleration 0-100 km/h s 8.6
Max. speed** km/h 210
Fuel consumption comb. (acc. to ADR 81/01) l/100 km 8.4
CO2 output g/km 195

*acc. to VDA measuring method

** electronically limited

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

echnical Data: Mercedes-Benz CLC 200 KOMPRESSOR

Engine

No. of cylinders/arrangement 4/in-line, 4 valves per cylinder
Displacement cc 1796
Bore x stroke mm 82.0 x 85.0
Rated output kW 135 at 5500 rpm
Rated torque Nm 250 at 2800-5000 rpm
Compression ratio 8.5 : 1
Mixture formation Microprocessor-controlled petrol injection with hot film air mass measurement (HFM), compressor supercharging

Power transfer

Transmission Five-speed automatic transmission
Ratios Final drive

1st gear

2nd gear

3rd gear

4th gear

5th gear

Reverse

3.07

3.95

2.42

1.49

1.00

0.83

3.15

Chassis

Front axle Three-link suspension, McPherson system with coil springs and gas-filled shock absorbers, stabiliser, anti-dive
Rear axle Multi-link independent suspension, coil springs and gas-filled shock absorbers, stabiliser, anti-squat and anti-dive
Braking system Hydraulic dual-circuit brakes with brake booster, stepped master brake cylinder, internally ventilated disc brakes at the front, solid at the rear, drum-type parking brake at the rear, ABS, Brake Assist, ESP®
Steering Rack-and-pinion power steering
Wheels 7.5 J x 17 (front), 8.5 J x 17 (rear)
Tyres 225/45 R 17 (front), 245/40 R 17 (rear)

Dimensions and weights

Wheelbase mm 2715
Track width, front/rear mm 1505/1476
Overall length mm 4452
Overall width mm 1728
Overall height mm 1405
Turning circle m 10.77
Boot capacity* l 310 — 1100
Kerb weight acc. to EC kg 1480
Payload kg 470
Perm. Gross vehicle weight kg 1950
Tank capacity/reserve l 62/8

Performance and fuel consumption

Acceleration 0-100 km/h s 8.6
Max. speed** km/h 210
Fuel consumption comb. (acc. to ADR 81/01) l/100 km 8.4
CO2 output g/km 195

*acc. to VDA measuring method

** electronically limited

News: Official images of Fiat 500 Abarth esseesse released

fiat-abarth-500-fq

Official images of the new confusingly named Fiat 500 Abarth esseesse have been released and as expected the car is about as sharp as a Italian hatch can be.

The esseesse is decked out with a full body kit consisting of a new front fascia, lower side skirts and a redesigned rear bumper with a diffuser and pair of chrome exhaust tips, while 17-inch wheels and a small spoiler finish off the look.

Inside, a set of bolstered bucket seats keep driver and passenger snug in the bends and expect a revised IP, red trim and Abarth logos are embossed into the dash. No engine specs have been released yet, but expectations are that  the turbocharged 1.4-liter should put around 160 hp through a six-speed manual before it reaches the front wheels through a Q2 Torsen C limited slip differential.

All details will be fully revealed at the Paris Motor Show.

News: Audi reveals the new S4

Audi S4 Sedan 2009 F

Audi is introducing its new generation sports top models in the mid-size class – the S4 and the S4 Avant. The engine, a three-litre V6 with direct fuel injection and mechanical turbocharging, delivers a powerful 245 kw (333 hp). It accelerates the S4 to 100 km/h in just 5.1 seconds, while on average maintaining am economy of 9.7 litres per 100km.

The quattro permanent all-wheel drive system transfers its power to the road, which is then converted by the sport suspension into dynamic handling. Upon request Audi can equip the new models with new innovative tehnologies that further increase their lead over the competition. The seven-speed S tronic changes gears with lightning speed, and the new sport differential distributes the torque as needed between the rear wheels.

The new Audi S4 will be unveiled to the public for the first time at the Paris Auto Show from October 2 to 19.

In the meantime check out our review of the A4.

News: The new Mk VI Golf – best of all time?

Volkswagen MkVI fq

Volkswagen is sending a new Golf out into the world and it is touting it as the ‘best of all time’. Bigger than its predecessors the new Golf will take subtle styling cues from the Scirocco and Touareg, and offer new technologies within its class.

Economy is a strong feature with an average fuel consumption of 4.5 litres per 100 kilometers for a 110 PS TDI. Upon request, the Golf can park itself nearly automatically in the city thanks to “Park Assist”, it can maintain an ideal gap on the freeway by distance control (ACC), and at the push of a button it can transform itself from a cruiser to a sports car when the new “DCC Adaptive Chassis Control” system is on board. A new ESP system, with finer response over its control range, further optimized crash properties, seven airbags including knee airbag, the special head restraints (WOKS) that work to counteract whiplash trauma, a “seatbelt detection” feature debuting on the Golf in the rear seating area and daytime running lights — also standard equipment — provide for a maximum level of safety.

The roof section now rests — similar to the new Scirocco — on a prominently contoured shoulder section. The rear too is characterised by a predominance of horizontal lines. The taillights — now very wide — are marked among other things by an unmistakably unique night design. Overall, the new Golf — in the interplay of all of its design characteristics — gives the appearance of a significantly wider, flatter and higher end car. The car’s high value also applies to the newly designed interior. The appearance and layout of materials — as well as details such as brushed chrome accents and round in­struments and steering wheels derived directly from those of the Passat CC.

Making a significant contribution to the pioneering acoustic properties of the Golf are the exceptionally quiet common rail TDI engines being implemented on the Golf for the first time. Two balancer shafts (from 103 kW / 140 PS) also eliminate undesirable vibrations. Plans call for a TDI power range from 66 kW / 90 PS to 125 kW / 170 PS. Right at its market launch Volkswagen will be offering two 2.0 litre TDI engines on the Golf; they deliver 81 kW / 110 PS and 103 kW / 140 PS. Always there: a diesel particulate filter (DPF).
The new TDIs are exceptionally fuel efficient. The 110 PS strong diesel is satisfied with just 4.5 litres of fuel per 100 kilometers (119 g/km CO2). Even the 140-PS version only requires 4.9 litres of diesel (129 g/km CO2). In the launch phase, four variants will define the range of gasoline engines with 59 kW / 80 PS, 75 kW / 102 PS, 90 kW / 122 PS and 118 kW / 160 PS. Starting at 90 kW / 122 PS, TSI engines with supercharging and/or turbocharging are used.

With the exception of the entry-level versions, all gasoline and diesel engines may be paired with Volkswagen’s dual clutch transmission (DSG). Either a 6-speed or 7-speed DSG is used, depending on engine torque. This means that on the Golf the extremely efficient and agile DSG has replaced the classic torque converter automatic.

A New Zealand release date hasn’t been confirmed for the Golf yet, but we’ll bring you news as soon as we know!

News: Chrysler surges ahead with electric vehicles

Jeep EV phantom

Chrysler has announced plans to introduce three electric-drive vehicle prototypes, only one will be selected for production for the North American market in 2010 and European markets the following year. The three options include a Dodge performance sports car, a Jeep SUV and a Chrysler people mover based on the popular Voyager platform.  As a joint project between Chrysler and the U.S Department of Energy, 100 electric vehicles are to be on the road in government, business, utility and Chrysler development fleets by 2009.

The Company said that it is well into the development of advanced, production-intent electric vehicles, and that it will apply electric-drive technology to its front-wheel-drive, rear-wheel-drive and body-on-frame four-wheel-drive platforms in the next several years.

“We have a social responsibility to our consumers to deliver environmentally friendly, fuel-efficient, advanced electric vehicles, and our intention is to meet that responsibility quickly and more broadly than any other automobile manufacturer,” said Bob Nardelli, Chairman and CEO — Chrysler.

Chrysler’s Electric Vehicles utilise just three primary components. These include an electric motor to drive the wheels, an advanced lithium-ion battery system to power the electric-drive motor and a controller that manages energy flow. The electric-drive system is being developed for front-wheel-drive, rear-wheel-drive, and body-on-frame four-wheel-drive vehicle applications. This technology provides customers with a vehicle that has zero tailpipe emissions and a 150- to 200-mile driving range.

The Range-extended Electric Vehicle technology combines the electric-drive components of the Electric Vehicle with a small petrol engine and integrated electric generator to produce additional energy to power the electric-drive system when needed.

In the Dodge EV sports car the 200 kW electric-drive motor generates 650 N¢m (480 lb.-ft.) of torque. The instant high torque of the electric-drive motor delivers outstanding performance, accelerating the Dodge EV to 60 mph in less than five seconds, with quarter-mile times of 13 seconds and a top speed of more than 120 mph.

To find out more check out www.Chryslergoeselectric.com

News: Audi RS6 sedan revealed

Audi RS6 Sedan 2009 fq

We’ve driven the station wagon RS6 (the Avant) – brutally quick, well-appointed, but lacking in soul. Here’s what the sedan will look like when it arrives possibly in 2009.

It will be officially unveiled next week at the Paris Motor Show. Until then you can read our road test of the RS6 station wagon here.

News: Higgins-Aube Energya

Higgins-Aube Energya fq

Higgins-Aube, a young Canadian company, has shown early images of its latest creation, the Energya (no, we don’t know how to pronounce it), a three-wheeled vehicle. The Energya is designed as a light, high performance vehicle. Similar to a sports car where the driver and the passenger are seated side-by-side, the Energya motomobile has a rear engine that drives the single wheel at the back, with the idea that it feels, drives and behaves mostly like an open wheel racecar.

Mechanically, the Energya motomobile will be powered by a motorcycle engine having a six-speed sequential manual transmission. It will feature an aluminum frame with inboard front suspension using superposed unequal A-arms. The dampers slightly protrude through the front cowling, both as a design statement and for cooling reasons.

Particular attention has been given to reduce the mass of the non-suspended components and to centralising most of the mass closer to the vehicle’s centre of gravity for enhancing dynamic performance. The cockpit is typical of a racecar with only the essential instruments for the road, and figure-hugging seats. Half-doors are provided to ease access to the cockpit while providing side-impact protection.

A three-wheeled vehicle is considered, in many jurisdictions as a motorcycle. Since the vehicle may do without many of the mandatory systems and components required on an automobile, the motomobile may consequently be made lighter, advantageously influencing its performances. As Higgins-Aube shares the philosophy of late Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus Cars, reducing weight was indeed the cornerstone that led to the choice of this type of vehicle. Furthermore, a three-wheel vehicle having two wheels at the front, contrarily to having a single wheel at the front, is dynamically stable.

Performance targets are set high: achieve 0-100km/h within 4 seconds and lateral acceleration in excess of 1 G . Expect an engine in the neighbourhood of 200 hp and an approximate vehicle weight of 350kg.

But you’re only looking at computer renders here: given appropriate financial backing, production units of the Energya motomobile could hit the market within 18 months, and it could be offered as an electric vehicle.

News: Honda develops an even safer airbag

Honda has developed an even safer airbag – the world’s first driver-side i-SRS airbag system – that continuously stages the volume of airbag-inflating gas, thereby combining enhanced occupant protection with reduced occupant impact. Honda plans to implement the new continuously staged inflation i-SRS airbag system on the driver’s side of the Life minicar to be released in Japan in November 2008.

A Honda innovation, the new i-SRS airbag system features a spiral-shaped seam structure and gas release control valve to control airbag deployment and pressure for faster deployment, reduced occupant impact and a longer period of inflation and occupant protection. As a result, the new system accommodates a broad range of occupant positions and potential collision situations.

Honda first began fundamental airbag research in 1971, and in 1987 became the first to introduce a driver-side SRS airbag system in an automobile manufactured in Japan. In 1990, Honda was the first automaker to introduce a passenger-side SRS airbag system in a vehicle manufactured in Japan. In 1998, Honda introduced the world’s first inflator with a two-stage deployment system, as well as an i-side airbag system with an occupant position detection sensor. Continuing its tradition of innovation, Honda continues to be a world leader in researching, developing and introducing new automobile safety technologies.