Quite luxurious, in a practical wayIn introducing the C-Class Sports Packages, including the C200 Kompressor, Mercedez-Benz has combined the high-tech functions of a luxury sedan and the youthful energy of a small sports car.
At a glance, the C200 Kompressor seems to be a hybrid cousin of the sporty S-Class and the luxurious E-Class. The front is elegantly shaped, yet the car’s compact size makes it practical and sporty. It slips right into a slim Korean parking space, and it can maneuver easily in the busy traffic of downtown Seoul, but it manages to retain its high-class stature, uncharacteristic of local cars.
The C200 Kompressor comes with remote-control entry, which works from a good distance. Once the car starts, the steering wheel lowers and the seat pulls up to the steering wheel, with a robotic sound and motion. This feels like a car of the future from a sci-fi action movie. I wish I could simply give the order, “Drive,” but the car doesn’t respond to voice commands (yet).
The seat can be set at three different modes; the headrest, the back and the seat are autonomously controlled for extra comfort. Pressing the small black buttons, shaped like a seat, on the door panel is like playing with a toy.
The interior is simple and spacious; the seats and door panels, covered with charcoal gray leather, are very sturdy. The car is equipped with only the necessary functions, which, on the bright side, means no distractions as with the too-fancy interiors of most luxury sedans.
The dashboard has simple, analog features, consisting of a speedometer, a tachometer and a fuel gauge, along with a digital display of various functions. The gear shift looks like it’s for a manual transmission, but it’s actually high-tech automatic (called “Touch-shift”).
The six-CD changer is conveniently tucked inside the glove compartment. The bass thumps through speakers near the feet; the additional buttons on the steering wheel make adjusting the controls easy while driving. The double-layered sunroof is also simple to operate.
When the car is moving at less than 15 kilometers (9 miles) per hour, “Parktronic” is automatically on. This system, with sensors located at all four corners of the car, alerts the driver when the car comes within 20 centimeters (8 inches) of an inanimate object.
Once on the road, the driving is easy. The car accelerates smoothly all the way up to 150 kmh. There’s no thumb-controlled electronic gear shifting; you just drive normally.
The tachometer lingers mostly in the 10s and 20s, but beyond 30 RPM, the vehicle seems to enter the stabilized mode of a cool sports car. The speedometer goes up to 260 kmh, but on this test drive, alas, I only get to take it up to 150.
The tinted rearview mirror is glare-free. Because the three mirrors ― two side mirrors and the rear-view mirror ― are tweaked differently to give the driver a better view, the distance in relation to surrounding traffic seems weirdly distorted, at least at first. Getting used to to these mirrors might take a while.
Now I’m about to step out of the car. As the automation again kicks in, I let the steering wheel pull up and the chair slide backwards, yielding a lot of room to move. No more bruises on the knee from jumping out the car. And my pointy high heels will never rip my skirt.
The Mercedez-Benz C200 Kompressor costs 54,500,000 won ($45,416) in Korea.
by Ines Cho
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