Mercedes-Benz wants a bigger piece of the premium-SUV cake

It was Bastille Day 2015. I was cruising through the lush green vineyards of the French Alsace region, flanked by the mighty Rhine. All was quiet on the western front. The only discernible movement was the multitude of Tricolour flags and table cloths on picnic tables, gently fluttering in the breeze.

From diesel-engined German airport taxis to AMG super-saloons, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class has to cater for a wide range of needs. Millions of units were sold over its first four generations, and they are largely responsible for the bulging wallets at Mercedes-Benz, being both profitable and popular.

Compact multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) might not be all that popular in South Africa, where we seem to prefer the rough-and-ready image of sports utility vehicles, but in other parts of the world they provide their manufacturers with a licence to print money: Renault’s Scenic, Volkswagen’s Touran and Opel’s Zafira generate immense profits for their parent companies in other markets. 

This is the story of Merc’s magic carpet ride and is to be read with Steppenwolf’s Magic Carpet Ride as background music.

Once upon a time (in 1992) when director and scriptwriter Quentin Tarantino’s independently made debut film Reservoir Dogs was released, Mercedes-Benz made available its first generation ADS I Adaptive Damping System in the W140 SEC Coupé model.

The eastern Free State is home to spectacular scenery, with the Golden Gate National Park treating its visitors to panoramic views of the Maluti mountain range as the road turns away from the Highveld plains. Getting there is a bit of a palaver, however: it’s not only quite a distance from Gauteng, but the driving conditions are far from ideal. Years of neglect have taken their toll on the surfaces of secondary roads, creating potholes big enough to swallow a Picanto, and corrugations severe enough to loosen a devout nun’s morals.

If you’d rather slash your Amex Black than be just another C-Class sedan driver, then Mercedes-Benz has the answer: a special, higly versatile low-volume C-Class. It’s the C-Class Estate and will be delivered to early adopters from October this year. What this new model has in common with its successful sedan sibling is a clear yet emotional and sporty design along with innovative engineering. Technical features include the sedan range’s efficient engines and high-quality, refined interiors giving a tangible feeling of modern luxury.

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