The brochure for the new fifth-generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class would, in places, be better promotional material for oversized sunglasses and expensive sandals than it is for a car.
You will know the score: it’s full of pouting young models in designer clothes arranged around a car in which they have an apparently disdainful level of disinterest. In this case, one of them is actually sitting on the roof of a grey C-Class Estate wearing a black trench coat, black leather boots and Grace Jones-style ‘eyewear’. As ironic as this might sound in light of our current throwback fashion trends, I’m pretty confident that nobody who dressed anything like that ever advertised the 190E in 1982.
The young lady in question is picnicking with what appears to be the shiniest cocktail shaker in the known universe and clutching a massive pretzel almost as if it were a steering wheel. And she just happens to have chosen to do all that on the roof of her C-Class. Frankly, it’s beyond my powers of parody.
Much as she might look a bit like a person to whom Mercedes would want to sell a C-Class, however, this person isn’t anything like the one who will actually buy one. Mercedes wants to use technology, fully networked connectivity and very daft brochure photography to bring younger customers into the fold. I get it. Honestly, though, it seems to me that they’re burying the lead. The most valuable and marketable commodity that this car has right now, which twenty-something models in expensive-looking accessories do absolutely nothing to speak to, must surely be reassurance.
In these times in which we find ourselves, fully electric family cars of comparable prices not only exist but are being made more financially appealing, both to buy and to run, than their piston-engined counterparts. And when those EV alternatives are almost universally saluted by governments and the various courts of public opinion alike as the virtuous future of personal transport, surely the people who will buy this car – a conventional, albeit mildly hybridised, piston-engined compact executive saloon from the car maker with the longest ‘legacy’ in the business – will do so simply because they know it will work.