BusinessCar Awards 2015 - Business Car of the Year: Mercedes C-class
27 January 2015
Launched last June, the new C-class has kept Mercedes-Benz in the middle of the most desirable of attainable corporate sectors: the premium upper medium saloon marketplace. And the model has now won Mercedes its first ever Business Car of the Year prize, as selected by the readers of this magazine .
The new C-class is a massive step forward in a number of areas, with efficiency being a big one for the fleet market. From the diesel line-up, the most efficient model is the 103g/km C200 Bluetec in SE trim, compared with the best of 109g/km that both BMW and Audi manage with their 3-series and A4 models.
But it gets even better for the C-class when alternative propulsion is factored in: a few weeks after the new model's launch, Mercedes added a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain that can manage 94g/km in SE trim.
And there's more. In April 2015 we'll get a 48g/km plug-in hybrid model capable of 19 miles on electric power alone.
But there's more to the C-class than just efficiency gains. The classier, sportier looks combine with a more serious focus on whole-life costs, pushing the car into heartland fleet territory. Compared with their higher-volume German rivals, previous models have always been more removed from the needs of fleet operators.
Some neat design trickery around the rear end makes the boot look stubby and gives the car a more coupe-like profile, even though boot space is five litres up on the previous C-class, at 480 litres, matching BMW's 3-series and just 10 litres shy of the Audi A4.
Although the P11D price is still higher than the Audi or BMW (as are the insurance and servicing costs), the Mercedes' superior residual value and better emissions give it the ammunition it needs to compete.
There is, of course, more to a Mercedes than the bald figures. Interior quality has long been a Mercedes strong point, and the C-class is no different.
The classy dashboard has had a radical reduction in the number of buttons, with functions now controlled both via the seven-inch screen and the rotating dial between the two front seats. It works well once you've worked out where all the menus lead you.
The estate version was added in the second half of last year, costing £1200 over the saloon and adding between 2-8g/km depending on model. Interior space matches the Audi and just trails the BMW.
The C-class is a major advance for fleet users and operators, and that's good enough to have it take the top spot.
Highly Commended | Peugeot 308
The new Peugeot 308 is, as we have previously said in print, the biggest step forward a car manufacturer has made from one model to the next in a long time. The previous-generation 308 was fine, without threatening the class leaders in any way, but the new model's emissions, interior quality, equipment, space and driving enjoyment are up there with the best-in-class.
It's an impressive leap, which makes it ironic that this is the first Peugeot to keep the same name as its predecessor, rather than moving up a digit as was the case from the 306 to 307 and then the last-generation 308. A class-leading 82g/km for the 120hp BlueHDi model, good equipment levels (all bar the entry-level model have standard satnav) and a huge leap forward in interior quality all make the 308's case even more convincing.
The massive improvement makes the 308 very much worthy of coming this close to the C-class. That's why we've awarded it Highly Commended status.