Mabuyane Kekana

Mabuyane Kekana

Just over seven months since Lexus launched its first hybrids (green cars) to the South African market, German giant Mercedes-Benz South Africa has followed suit, introducing its first-ever fuel efficiency and environmentally friendly vehicles to our shores.

Last week saw the introduction of the C180 Kompressor BlueEFFICIENCY vehicle.

The current C180K will now be faced out to make way for the greener C180K.

According to the German manufacturer, many technological advancements will follow - from next year - starting with the introduction of Bluetec hybrid technology.

Mercedes-Benz's SA technical guru Graeme Ingram said it was imperative for everyone to play their part in protecting the planet.

The Benz folk in Centurion have assured the media that the C180K will still retain its original power and torque, despite the downsize of the engine.

The new car is fitted with 1,6-litre petrol engine as opposed to the 1,8-litre petrol engine fitted in the outgoing C180K.

In appearance, the new C180 shows some minor changes to the old model. It is 15mm lower and the radiator grille has been made smaller.

There is also a small BlueEFFICIENCY badge on the side next to the wheel-arch.

Mercedes-Benz also claimed that fuel consumption has now been reduced by 10percent.

"The C180 Kompressor model is one of the forerunners in the C-Class range and by introducing the BlueEFFICIENCY model we are not only making the vehicle more attractive, we are giving our customers the benefit of lower fuel consumption and the added benefit of being environmentally friendly," says Eckart Mayer, divisional manager of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

On the road, the BlueEFFICIENCY behaved beautifully, like any Merc sedan. However, the new engine felt sluggish on take-off and when overtaking.

A newly developed gearshift display in the cockpit informs the driver when he should change gear to save fuel.

Also, the instrument cluster features a newly developed display showing fuel consumption. This appears as an easily legible bar chart.