New Zealand’s car of the year for 2000 is a Mercedes sedan that proves value motoring exists even at a money-no-object end of the new car market.
The C-class, ranging in price from $71,000 to $111,000, is the first Mercedes-Benz model to win the title, awarded by the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild.
The guild represents more than 30 automotive journalists in daily and specialist print media, as well as radio and television programmes and websites – in all contributing to more than 50 regularly-published titles.
“As you’d imagine, the new C-class is dripping with sophistication and technology; more than any other immediate rival. Not everyone can afford a car such as this, but those who can will see it does genuinely offer good value for the money they’re required to spend,” said Guild president Richard Bosselman.
“Not only this, but it is also an extremely characterful sedan imbued with a new and exciting level of dynamic brilliance. I think the fun-to-drive aspect of this car makes a big impression.”
Styling was right to the minute. The sleek coupé-like look seamlessly integrated many elements from the larger S-class, acclaimed as the world’s best luxury limo of the moment. Shared styling elements include the “two-become-one” headlight shapes, strong shoulders and sweeping roofline.
C-class buyers were also winners because the range had picked up the key technology, most safety-related, developed for the much more expensive S-Class. It was impressive that every C-class came with eight airbags as standard.
“There’s no disrespect in calling this the C in the key of S, as effectively Stuttgart has shrunk its technology leader into a more affordable form,” said Mr Bosselman, motoring editor of the Manawatu Evening Standard newspaper.
In winning, the C-class headed off – in no particular order – the Volvo V70 estate, Toyota’s Echo, Celica and RAV4, BMW’s updated 3 Series, the Honda Odyssey, Renault Clio, Nissan’s Maxima and the Aero version of the Saab 9-5, which in wagon form was a top 10 finalist for the 1999 COTY.
Guild members assessed passenger vehicles released between January 1 and December 31, 2000 – almost 50 vehicles in all. Factors considered included performance, design, quality, safety and value for money.
Now in its 13th year, the New Zealand Car of The Year – represented by the Guild’s Peter Greenslade Memorial Trophy – is considered New Zealand’s most prestigious and sought-after automotve prize. Said Mr Bosselman: “It is decided upon without duress, commercial consideration or fear or favour each year by the collective majority of the country’s professional motoring journalists. No-one else can claim that.”
Previous winners include the Honda S2000 sports car, Volkswagen Passat, BMW’s 5 Series (1988 and 1996), Peugeot 405, Mazda MX5, Citroen ZX, Lexus LS400, Honda Accord, Nissan’s Maxima and the Toyota Corona.