Review: new Mercedes C-Class
Merc’s bestseller sees a generation change; we go to the south of France to have a go in it
The C-Class has been Merc’s bread winner almost throughout the world. And in India too, the smallest sedan has seen great numbers and has helped Mercedes cement its roots in India to a great extent. Before the A and the B came in, it was the cheapest Merc that you could buy. But C-Class has lost the ‘cheapest Merc’ tag last year and soon it was lose the cheapest Mercedes sedan tag too. That’s once the CLA comes to India next year. But at the end of this year, Mercedes will be getting the C in its all-new avatar to our shores. Before that happens, we get our hands on it in the pristine surroundings of the French Riviera.
So yes, to the Merc then. If you mistook it for the new S-Class, we wouldn't blame you. In fact, the designers at Merc too wouldn’t. Because the new C borrows a lot of design elements from the S-Class, to the point of being uncanny. The interior too has taken a lot of inspiration from the flagship limousine. This doesn’t look anything like the current C.
The C has never been too big in its proportions and that's true for this one as well. The downside to it is that it’s never been too spacious at the rear, which again is the case here too. The backseat is not the most ideal place to be in if you’re hunting for loads of room. The drive shaft tunnel eats into the legroom if you wish to seat three at the back. That's one thing that Merc should have sorted out with this all-new C-Class.
A new generation of an S-Class always has some scientific enhancements that the world has never seen in cars before. And the latest generation of the S did that with its radar tech detecting speed bumps and potholes to prepare the car and give you a great ride. The new C too has inherited the radar technology, but for a completely different application – to keep collisions at bay. The radar throws a beam to keep track of vehicles around the car and ensures that the new C doesn’t hit any of them. And that it does that by steering and braking by itself, if needed. The problem with this technology, like in the S, is that our government thinks the radars are going to challenge the safety of the nation and has decided to not let it enter the country, so don't expect to experience this feature on our roads, where it's really required.
The new C is both sportier and more comfortable at the same time. And this unthinkable deed has been achieved by another genius technology – adaptive suspension. Yes, a lot of cars already boast this feature, but in this C, it changes the character of the car by a great extent. You set the agility level to Comfort and the springs and the dampers can take care of potholes pretty well. And by that we mean, it’s enough to take care of India-style potholes too, not just minuscule French potholes. With the help of this adaptive suspension, for the first time, you can raise the height of a C with just a hit on a button.
In Sport mode, it adapts the suspension to more agile. It makes the car sit lower to the ground by 25mm and stiffens up the setup. The steering gets tighter and sharper. In fact, the steering on the current (W204) C-Class too is very good, and in the new one (W205), it gets even better. Striking that fine balance between good ride and sharp handling is always every engineer’s dream, or nightmare at times. But the new C, Merc seems to have hit the bull’s eye.
While most of the styling and technology has been derived from the S, the engine and gearbox remains to be True Blue C-Class. The engines have been carried over from the current C-Class and there have been no alterations to the power outputs too. What have changed are the refinement levels.
There’s no word on which engines will make it to India but one thing is certain, the 2.1-litre oil-burner will surely be here. In the 220 tune, it puts out 170 horses and 400Nm of twist. If you want more oomph, there’s the 250 tune – it develops 204bhp and 500Nm. If you ask me, the 220 spec is more than sufficient. Rarely would you need any more power... very rarely.
Merc has something for diesel haters too – a 2-litre turbo-petrol that’s good for 211bhp. Obviously, torque isn’t as impressive as the diesels at 350 Newton metres. The 250s – both petrol and diesel – are equally quick. They both hit 100kph in 6.6 seconds and they both have a top whack of about 250kph.
Mercedes will announce the prices of the new C-Class only by the end of this year. Our guess is that you’ll have shell out Rs 38-45 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai) for it. But what you get in the new C is the perfect balance between comfort and sportiness.
C220CDI: 4 cyl, 2143cc, diesel, 170bhp, 400Nm, 7A, RWD, 0-100kph: 7.7sec, top speed: 234kph
C250CDI: 4cyl, 2143cc, diesel, 204bhp, 500Nm, 7A, RWD, 0-100kph: 6.6sec, top speed: 247kph
C250: 4cyl, 1991cc, petrol, 211bhp, 350Nm, 7A, RWD, 0-100kph: 6.6sec, top speed: 250kph
Price: 38-45lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai)
Mercedes has managed to pack the new C optimally. It has sorted ride and handling characteristics and looks to match