The 2024 Drive Car of the Year award for Best Luxury Car under $100K makes it two in a row for the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
The concept of the sedan or wagon as the first choice car for the Australian family has gained momentum over the past few decades. From the glory days when the Commodore and Falcon ruled the sales charts, an array of SUVs of all shapes and sizes have delivered a major blow to the humble sedan or wagon.
But luxury travel has become more coveted, and more respected. Something not too different from what the DCOTY judges are evaluating here – the best luxury car under $100K. When Aussie-built cars dominated the road, the cars that could offer a certain amount of luxury were the ones we looked at with envy. EVs weren’t a factor then of course, but the environment has changed a lot. And it’s an interesting field for 2024.
On the one hand, you could say that although the competition is not as fierce as it used to be, the smaller market share has actually made the battlefield more difficult. And, despite the six-figure starting price, buyers in this segment want value as much as luxury, with that hard-to-measure feeling that your money’s gone far, a key driver.
That’s why manufacturers in this category aim to give a real feeling of premium inside the cabin. Making the driver feel good about their purchase is important, but so is comfort, quality, modern technology, safety and infotainment. The range is no stranger to cutting-edge touchscreen infotainment technology, interactive driver displays, and unique sound systems for example.
One car has conquered the SUV trend and done it with style. That’s one of the reasons they’re here as a finalist, and that car is the Tesla Model 3. It seems that the appetite for SUVs can’t be tamed, the Model 3 has been well received since its launch, often with a long list of eager buyers, and even. retain great value on the second-hand market. You might say that Aussies just want a sensible electric car, but even in the face of emerging SUV options, demand for the Model 3 has remained strong.
Hot on the heels of Tesla’s success with the Model 3, Polestar has its own competitor with the excellent Polestar 2. Like the Model 3, the Polestar sedan has conquered the SUV trend and gained instant popularity. This range is perhaps the best example of electric cars operating in the mainstream automotive environment, competing on merit rather than simply because they are electric.
That alone makes this category challenging for DCOTY Judges. Does a car qualify because it is electric? Or is it the best ‘car’ around. The two new-look EVs considered here go up against one of the most established and accomplished sedans in decades of history.
Technically, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is our crowning champion, although this category has changed slightly from last year’s award. Formerly known as ‘Best Luxury Sedan’, the DCOTY judging team has set a price limit in the category to acknowledge that buyers weigh not only conventionality against electric power, but utility up to that all-important six-pointer.
Winner: Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Drive Option: Mercedes-Benz C-Class C200 from $89,900 MSRP
Mercedes-Benz C-Class important facts:
- Price from $89,900 to $95,900 (range)
- 5 year warranty
- Consumption 6.9-7.3L/100km (claimed)
Why Mercedes-Benz C-Class won:
- A list of the top interesting devices
- A comfortable ride
- Advanced, user-friendly information optimization
Unsurprisingly, the reigning luxury car champion from 2023 has backed up that win with another win in 2024. Against the undeniable high-quality, high-tech, full-electric competition, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class makes its mark as a car the most suitable luxury. less than $100,000.
Two models are available in the standard C-Class range, meaning buyers can build their budget around a C200 or C300 variant, but the verdict is open on how the DCOTY judges would spend their hard-earned money.
The judges unanimously agreed that the smartest way to spend your luxury sedan money is to choose the entry point into the C-Class lineup, the well-equipped C200. We often say that more is not necessarily more, and that’s the case with the entry-level C200, which is packed with features, luxurious to drive, and affordable in every sense.
This category was very competitive, besides the fact that two of the three competitors are the most modern it takes part – all of them being fully electric. Such diverse competition made this category difficult to judge, but once again, entry points for model grades provided the most compelling value.
Mercedes-Benz has had a segment leader on its hands in the form of the C-Class for a while now, and that’s the case here. The DCOTY judges described it as a ‘mature performance saloon’. The C200 is, first and foremost, built to the expectations of what a luxury car should be and is as stylish as it is practical.
The C200’s greatness here is immediately apparent inside the cabin, where Mercedes-Benz’s signature luxury and attention to detail flourish. There is no doubt that the C-Class cabin is a great place to be as a driver or passenger. The technology that’s included, like the infotainment screen and slick control center, looks impressive but is also easy to use even for first-timers.
The infotainment system – which includes a ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice command – has an 11.9-inch headliner and infotainment screen, while the driver gets a configurable 12.3-inch display. Both screens are beautiful and visible in any light. The standard Mercedes-Benz audio system is good, even in the entry-level C200.
The C-Class also carries a full five-star ANCAP safety rating, issued in 2022. Standard equipment includes ten airbags, a 360-degree camera, adaptive LED headlights, cruise control, and lane departure warning. way. Stepping up to the C300, you get tracking and lane assist. If your budget allows, that extra safety gear could provide the key to choosing the C300 over the C200.
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is covered by a five-year/unlimited kilometer warranty and service intervals are 12 months or 25,000km. In the first three years, the service will cost $2750, while five years will cost $5200.
Despite the lower 1.5 liter cylinder, turbocharged engine, the addition of 48-volt strong-hybrid starter technology adds spice. It’s linked between the engine and the gearbox, and there’s a 150kW and 300Nm version as well as a smooth nine-speed automatic. Fuel consumption is claimed at 6.9L/100km on the combined cycle, and we’ve spent as little as half seven hours in real-world testing. The 48V system doesn’t do much to reduce fuel consumption in the real world, but it does allow the C200 to easily switch from off to on in stop/start traffic.
Ride comfort is typical of the European debut, a firm carpet rather than a wonder-carpet in terms of bump absorption in other words, but the C200 doesn’t work on the typical city road network. Different modes of operation mean those of you who are more playful can choose to have more fun when the mood takes you. The C200 is, however, a luxury cruiser at heart.
The key to this unit is delivering on the promise of all-round luxury. Outside of class, the luxury cabin, quality integration, top-notch equipment and a superior driving experience are all non-negotiable if the car wins this category. The Model 3 and Polestar 2 are both worthy contenders, but neither have the all-round chops of the C-Class.
That’s why the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is the 2024 Best Driving Luxury Car Under $100,000.
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