Not much has changed in the continuous string of bad news for the past few months. The global economy is still in shambles, oil prices are creeping up north again, and the list of dreadful tidings seem to be never ending. In the face of all that is happening, most consumers have gone on an austerity drive, cutting down expenses on everything and anything deemed excessively luxurious or frivolous.
And cars are part of the big ticket items (which also include expensive restaurant dinners and business class flights) that bear the brunt of this cut.
For those who need and are still able to afford a set of wheels, well, small is in these days. And in the case of the Singapore car buyer, less is definitely more when it comes to smaller road tax bill, cheaper running costs and lower list price. A small appetite for fuel would also be welcome due to the high petrol prices. Carmakers in recent times have been cottoning on to this fact and it can be seen in many cars sporting smaller more fuel efficient engine being brought to market.
Most car buyers here are a pragmatic lot and have always shunned small or medium sized cars with large capacity engines and subscribe to the "more sheetmetal for the money" philosophy. With this line of thought, it is easy to see why the Mercedes-Benz E200 Kompressor is many times more popular than the E280. So the three pointed star's C180 Kompressor - with its engine downsized to 1.6-litres to become the C180 Kompressor Blue Efficiency - is a good fit for this sobering moment in time and right up many car buyers' alley as it fulfils many of the criteria stated above.
With the C-Class, Mercedes has truly come out of the woods where interior quality is concerned. The last C-Class and outgoing E-Class (and many others, in fact) produced during the brand's cost cutting era used - no offence, Mercedes - truly crap plastics for the cabins, coupled with less than precise build quality that damaged the reputation of the three pointed star.
Well that was all in the past - now, the C180 Kompressor Blue Efficiency's interior is a fabulous place to spend time in. The plastics lining the interior truly feel soft and luxurious, while the controls you touch - such as the rotary dial for the Command system, the air-conditioning switches and the buttons on the radio - operated with satisfying weight and tactile feedback.
Cabin space is generous for its size, and it feels much bigger and airier inside than its arch rival, the BMW 3 Series. Four adults will have no complaints regarding head, leg or shoulder room, and a fifth passenger can be squeezed in if he or she does not mind the slightly high transmission hump. Boot space is also good, with a nice regularly-shaped load area - it offers more capacity than the 3 Series'.