1010325_Mercedes-Benz C-Class..

I’M not entirely sure when it happened, but Mercedes-Benz has clearly begun building the most beautiful stable of cars on the road right now.

In its vast and slightly confusing line-up there’s the utterly lovely CLA, the even more beautiful C-Class Coupe and the SL roadster has lost some of its hard edges to once again become a wonderfully-proportioned masterpiece.

The S-Class is as attractive as it ever was and then, of course, there’s the prettier-than-ever E-class and even the SUVs are curvaceous and gorgeous.

857704_C-Class_145I’ve been testing the entry point into Mercedes saloon ownership, the C-Class and it’s another fine piece of design, blending the new design direction of curves, bulbous protrusions and cutting-edge tech into a very neat shape.

Truth be told, it needs to look good. Its fine form offers it a firm foundation in one of the fiercest battles in the automotive industry, with BMW, Audi both keen for a bigger slice of the Compact-Executive pie.

But, if you can afford to dip far enough into the options list, the Mercedes comes with a dizzying array of technology and has the nicest interior by quite a margin – so it’s wading into battle with its head held high.

963767_C-Class_001It does have some disadvantages though. The familiar 2.1-litre diesel in the C 220 and C 250 BlueTEC, which will be the choice for the vast majority of its buyers, is quieter now but still annoyingly harsh when pushed hard.

You might find more thrills in a BMW, too. The C-Class’s trick suspension setup seems geared more towards cruising than tearing the backside out of a rural back road. Not that that’s entirely a criticism, of course. It is wonderfully comfortable on the motorway.

As I’ve mentioned, the interior is at least as magnificent as the exterior, if not more so. Compared to the out-going C-Class it’s pretty, practical and comfortable – and the list of gadgets that could make up your technological showcase is, frankly eye-watering.

Standard equipment is good for the sector; all versions have cruise control, a DAB radio, Bluetooth and Sport and AMG Line cars come with heated seats, sat-nav and LED headlamps.

983310_C-Class_202 (Small)Hop up to the Premium Plus package and you’ll be treated to keyless-go, ambient cabin lighting, a powerful Burmester stereo, panoramic glass roof and a glossy 8.4-inch tablet-style screen in place of the standard seven-inch display.

To be honest, although the Comand infotaiment system is now better than ever, it does have the odd shortcoming over its rivals.

For example, should you fancy, you can sidestep the bothersome task of pressing a letter on a screen and “write” it instead, using your finger on a trackpad. Quite why you’d want to do this at 70mph is beyond me but, fortunately, the voice control system is surprisingly good.

Driving aids are also brilliant in the C-Class. If selected the adaptive cruise control works brilliantly, safety features such as emergency braking assistance and lane-keep assistance are all present and correct and the head-up display is better than ever.

Of course, being a Mercedes, the interior is exceptionally comfortable and there’s plenty of space and light, despite that distinctive swooping roof line.

Another stand-out feature of the interior is the tactile buttons and controls. Everything feels beautifully made – as, of course, it should do in a Merc. It’s a compact executive car trying to be a luxury executive car. And, crucially, pulling it off.

Of course, this luxury and technology comes at a price. The cheapest version is the petrol-powered C200 at £28,545 and the diesel versions start at £30,260. Adding the various packages and options soon sends the prices soaring.

But this won’t come as a surprise to Mercedes fans and it does sit well alongside the equivalent BMWs and Audis.

It wasn’t that long ago that the C-Class was the entry point into Benz ownership, but there’s an A-Class and a B-Class for that now.

Here’s a car which not only gives you that three-pointed star, but it offers the poise and presence to stand out in the office car park. And now there’s even more luxury, refinement, technology and quality.

The C-class truly has gone up in the world.