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Mercedes brought in a big change in the C-Class – the best selling sedan, India and worldwide – in 2014. It looked fresh, cabin had a long list of toys and it was obvious that it had got a large number of cues from the flagship sedan, the S-Class, not only on the outside, but also in the cockpit. It was revolutionary, the cabin. The C-Class tried to offer the best of both worlds – an enthusiastic drive and a comfy rear-seat ride. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite get the math right in offering the best in either of the two things.

Four years later, the C-Class has got the most significant update. Of course, the overall silhouette has remained untouched, but there are updates to the face that won’t require a magnifying glass to spot. For starters, the grille has been reworked and now you get a choice of three sorts of grille designs to choose from, depending on the spec you pick. The bumper, too, has been redesigned to allow better flow of air. The headlamps have gone under the knife as well, with ones that look a bit more modern than the ones they replace. The list of major changes to the external design gets over here. But apart from that, there are a couple of small alterations here and there.

On the inside, the freshness and modernity of the cabin continue even after four years of being around. Merc has had to carry out only subtle changes to make the cabin up-to-date – a bigger screen for the infotainment and completely redone instrument cluster. With the new design, the instrument cluster is far more intuitive and easy to read. It is capable of displaying tons of information, both about the car and navigation, and is easy to browse through, too. Mercedes has now cracked it right to compete with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. Apart from these, you get a new shade of the upholstery in the cabin, along with a few changes here and there.

Mercedes claims that it changed 6,500 parts from the pre-facelift version, which accounts for almost half of the parts used to build the C-Class. With the mechanical engineers put to work to make new powertrains, the software engineers in Merc’s HQ too have been put to work to reprogram up to 80 per cent of the electronics. New engine mappings, new mappings for the gearbox, better response times, so on and so forth…

Gone is the 2143cc, four-pot oil-burner that did duties in almost every Mercedes out there. And the one that replaces it is a smaller, 1950cc, four-pot unit that is capable of adhering to much stricter emission norms. The one that we tried our hand was the 300d. It churns out 254bhp and 500Nm. With that, it’s the most powerful diesel unit in the C-Class, as against the 250 CDI being at the top of the diesel chain. This diesel not only outdoes the previous engine in terms of emissions, but it also does much better in terms of refinement. Vibrations are almost absent and diesel clatter seeps into the cabin only once you near the redline.

The engine is mated to a 9-speed gearbox. And with the number of ratios at its disposal and with the new mapping, it does a stellar job of putting the power down on the road. It’s got a ratio for all your needs and a brain that can think really quick to give you that cog. The one that we drove in Luxembourg had ‘4MATIC’ written at the back of it. No points for guessing it’s the AWD C-Class that’s meant for the western markets, and there’s no chance that it’ll make it to India. But even without, we reckon it’ll do a nice job of transferring the power down to the tarmac.

The C-Class that we drove in Europe rode on air suspension. Now, that too has a slim chance of making it to India. But with it, the C-Class rides supremely well and it’s all-comfy in the cabin. We will reserve our opinion on the ride till we drive it in India.

Apart from the aesthetic changes and new drivetrains, the C-Class has also got new driving aids. Just like the S-Class, it now gets adaptive cruise control, lane assist that works in conjunction with radars and cameras and a very complicated software running the show. In European conditions, with infrastructure and predictable traffic, it does a magnificent job of keeping the driver effort to minimal. We’d be able to tell you whether this tech comes to India or no only closer to the launch.

When, you ask? We don’t have confirmation on the exact launch date yet, but you can be sure to have one in India by Diwali, this year. For how much? Well, again we’d have to disappoint you without an exact answer, but we think it’ll be not more than Rs 2 lakh as compared to the outgoing one.

So, does it do better than the outgoing version? Yes, it does. It’s got new drivetrains that are better in every way and the changes to the cabin and the exterior add a bit of sparkle to the package.

Specs: 1950cc, 4cyl, turbo-diesel, 254bhp, 500Nm, 9A, AWD, estimated price: Rs 45 lakh (ex-showroom)

Bottomline: New engines add zest and overall styling changes add a dash of freshness to the C-Class

Rating: 8/10



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