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Mercedes-Benz C-Class: Review

Mercedes-Benz C-Class: Review
Parichay Malvankar
Written by Parichay Malvankar

The best or nothing! That’s what the latest W2015 Mecedes-Benz C-Class has to say.

The first C-Class (W201) was launched way back in 1993 and it was the smallest Mercedes-Benz product until the A-Class was launched. What we have with us now is the 4th generation of the C-Class. In the international markets, the C-Class is sold in multiple body styles such as a sedan, station wagon, coupe & a range topping AMG version. In India though, we will only get the sedan & the AMG version. The latest version was unveiled in December 2013 and is the first car to use the new Modular Rear Architecture (MRA) platform.

Mercedes-Benz India first launched only the petrol version of the C-Class in November 2014. It was brought to India via the CBU route initially. The C-Class C220 diesel was launched later in February 2015. Pricing of the C-Class is now well over Rs. 40 lakh (on-road). That’s rather high compared to the older version. So what exactly happened? With the introduction of compact luxury sedans such as the CLA, the C-Class cannot be priced in the same range as before. This will lead to cannibalisation and the smaller vehicle could be left stranded at the dealerships. The C-Class now however is loaded to the gills. Creature comfort & safety features are all best-in-class. With petrol & diesel prices now not separated by a huge margin, the diesel variants are still more popular. Hence, we took the C-Class C220 diesel out for a spin to find out if it actually is the best, as it claims to…

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Exteriors:
With the CLA now out on the streets, the C-Class doesn’t really look for feel small. Side-by-side, the C-Class now feels larger, and hence, the price gap is a bit justified. Styling is way different compared to the older generation. The new C-Class follows the new Mercedes-Benz design language and is clearly inspired by the flagship S-Class. The new model is more curvy than it was before. Does it stand out amongst competition such as the Audi A4 & BMW 3-Series, yes. But is this new styling up to everyone’s taste? Umm, may be not. Owners in this segment love understated looks, and the C-Class could pose as a bit too curved all around. Yes, the styling is neutral and should offend none.

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At the front, the C220 sports a twin-blade grille in silver & chrome accents. A chunky 3-pointed star, the Mercedes-Benz logo is placed between these twin-blades. Behind, you get a mesh section to allow air into the engine bay. Lower air dams are rather small and the new C-Class also gets a small splitter at the bottom, seen here in silver. There are no fog lamps offered with the new C-Class. Headlamps gets a LED strip which works as a DRL. Turn indicators are also LEDs and look really good when in action. The dual projector setup also features adaptive high beam. Front bumper is neatly carved around all of this. The bonnet gets subtle crease lines on either side and one in the centre as well. Another Mercedes-Benz logo is placed at the tip of the bonnet.

Side profile is now more couple like on the new C-Class. It looks like a good mix between the larger S-Class & the smaller CLA. The bold waistline on the new model stands out almost on every body colour. There is another crease line on the doors, at the bottom, which swoops upwards towards the rear. To add to the premium touch, the C-Class gets full chrome weather strips around the window section. B-pillar is seen in gloss black panels. ORVMs are wide and feature LED turn indicators. Alloy wheels however look boring. The 5 twin-spoke silver painted units look very plain Jane for a car this expensive. There’s some more chrome running along the length of the car at the bottom end of the doors.

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At the back, the LED tail lamps are the highlight and looks smashing at night. The rear end is very curvaceous and there’s no sharp edge at all. The only difference between the petrol & diesel C-Class is the badging on the boot. Here, you get a C220 badge on the left & a CDI badge on the right. Indian buyers love chrome, and there’s plenty of it on the new C-Class. At the back, you get a chrome number plate garnish, chrome strip on the rear bumper and even on the sides of the rear bumper. Lower end of the rear bumper gets a plastic section and reverse parking sensors are placed here. The parking camera under the Mercedes-Benz logo is retractable and pops open only when reverse gear is engaged.

Overall the design of the W205 is young, and definitely not as boring as its predecessors.

Interiors:
Interiors of the new C-Class are a big step forward. What used to be average looking is now absolutely stunning. Interiors are seen in dual tone, beige + black and the car also features ambient lighting which add so much more to the drivers mood, especially at night.

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Get inside and the new C-Class and the first thing we want to talk about is the centre console. Seen in high gloss lime wood finish, adds a lot of character. An 8.4″ screen sits on top of the centre console. Below, you have 3 AC vents in chrome which are very good in the touch and feel department. Also, the adjustment range is satisfactory. Below this you have the tap-type dual-zone automatic climate controls. Display for the AC controls is seen at the bottom end of the screen on top. Stereo unit is also a slim unit seen in black, which supports almost all inputs. What adds to the elegance is the analogue clock placed here. At night, it even gets a white backlit. Below this you have a pop-up storage bin. Another highlight in the C-Class is the controller for the COMAND system. It fits perfectly in your palms and the top section also features feather touch. We still preferred using the jog-dial though.

The 2-spoke leather wrapped steering wheel sports the usual gadgetry. Gear selector is placed on the steering column, to the RHS & cruise controls are placed to the left. The C-Class now gets a push button start. Instrument cluster gets white backlit and sports an MID in the centre which displays a host of data such as DTE, trip meter, speed, odometer, fuel efficiency, selected gear, and much more.

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Seats are electrically adjustable for both the front occupants. Front seats also feature adjustable under thigh support which is very useful during long drives. Even the neck restraints are electrically adjustable. Wrapped in beige leather, the seats are comfortable and even get adjsutable lumbar support. We only wish the seats had a cooling function. A sub 20 lakh rupee Hyundai Elantra has this. Driving position is easy to find and given the long travel range of the driver seat, taller & shorter drivers will be at ease instantly.

Stereo system is sourced from Burmester and sports silver accents as speaker grills. A total of 13 speakers deliver good sound quality. What was annoying though is that the FM radio only displays those channels which have good reception. Multiple times, we were driving around with only 1 FM channel allowed to play. This adds to the luxury feel inside the cabin. The 8.4″ infotainment system features 3D navigation, phone connectivity, Mercedes-Benz Apps, vehicle control settings, reverse camera display and much more. What adds to the overall appeal inside the cabin are the ambient lights, available in 3 colours – blue, white & amber.

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The target audience for the new C-Class will be seen here, most of the time – on the back seat. The new model is larger in dimension and offers better legroom compared to the predecessors. Rear passengers also get an AC vent with independent temperature control. With sunfilms gone, Mercedes-Benz offers an electrically retractable sun shade for the rear windscreen and 2 manual ones on each rear window. Rear seats are comfortable, but only for 2. The centre transmission hump will keep the 5th occupant hunting for foot space. Legroom & headroom available are decent. Taller occupants however will find the headroom to be a bit tight. Legroom however won’t be an issue since the front seat back is scooped out to release a few extra mm. Under thigh support is also not up to the mark. There’s ambient lighting even on the rear doors and cabin lamps are seen at either end, since the panoramic sunroof occupies the centre section.

Boot space by itself acceptable. But with the spare wheel placed on top, and not under the boot floor, available area can accommodate maximum of 2-3 medium sized bags and a few hand bags.

Engine, performance & handling:
Powering the new C-Class diesel is the same 2.1L, 4-cylinder diesel motor which we’ve seen on plenty of Mercedes-Benz models. The engine produces 170 PS of power and 400 Nm of torque and is matched to a 7-speed gearbox with paddle shifts on the steering wheel. The same engine was seen even in the older generation of C-Class, but gets a bit more refined now. Also, the W205 features auto start / stop function which helps in very good fuel efficiency. During our test, which included a good mix of city & highway driving, the new C-Class delivered between 13 – 16 kmpl very easily.

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The 2.1L motor under the hood has been tried & tested on Indian soil for a long time. Fire up the engine and NVH levels, by luxury car standards are brilliant. You barely hear the diesel clatter inside. But it’s quite audible on the outside. Within the city, the C-Class moves around with ease. The engine has very good low end grunt to lugg around effortlessly. Thanks to the healthy ground clearance as well, we never really had to cross the car over a speed breaker. Coupled with a light steering, city driving with the new C-Class is very comfortable. Bottom end performance is really strong and accelerating away from a traffic signal is something owners will enjoy. Revvs also build up in a linear fashion.

On the highway, the W205 hits the 100 kmph mark very easily. But if you keep pushing hard, the top end performance is not really up to segment standards. The engine is now a bit old and shows its age. It even sounds a bit strained if you keep crossing the revv counter over 5,000 RPM. While it has enough punch to overtake, enthusiasts will not really find the engine delivering as much excitement as they would expect. Best is to drive the new C in a sedate manner. Don’t write it off to be slow though. It does perform a 0-100 kmph stint in under 10 seconds. At high speeds, road noise does creep inside the cabin. But considering the music stays on, it isn’t too much of a problem.

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The latest model gets with Agility control. With this, one can select between Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport + & Individual driving modes. These settings tweak the engine, steering and suspension settings to offer the what the driver needs exactly. The 7-speed gearbox is a little sloppy and one would actually enjoy more using the paddles to shift gears.

Having lost weight by up to 100 kg, thanks to the new MRA (Mercedes Rear Architecture) platform, the new C-Class is nimble, but not as stable. Also, the suspension is raised for the Indian roads. This leads to a lot of vertical movement and loss of confidence when driving around your favourite ghats. In terms of city comfort though, this raised suspension set up delivers more than enough to keep occupants happy. Steering wheel weighs up nicely and doesn’t really feel vague. Its quick & accurate at all speeds. Overall ride quality & dynamics are good, but honestly, the older C-Class did this a notch better.

Safety features include 7 airbags, ABS, BAS, ESP, ASR, hill start assist, attention assist and adaptive high beam assist, etc. Occupants can be assured that they are in case of a mishap.

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With a lot more on the inside and the exteriors shredding the uncle image; the new C-Class now stands as a segment-best proposition. Also because the competition is running with older models. With a tank range of approximately 1,000 km (in cruising situation), the new C-Class is not only good looking, but very inexpensive for those long drives. At the moment, if you’re in for a car in this segment, the C-Class clearly blows away the competition with the equipment it has to offer. It’s priced high, but the equipment list is long enough to justify the asking price. Mercedes-Benz is on its way to clinch the #1 luxury car manufacturer title in India this year, and with products like these, we think it’s surely going to happen.

Click here to check out the Mercedes-Benz C-Class C220 CDI photo gallery.