The Mercedes-Benz C-Class receives it mid-life refresh and the Mercedes is calling this its most comprehensive refresh. This is backed up by the idea that the average C-Class has about 11,500 parts (by part number) and as many as 6,500 are brand new. The most interesting car in that line-up, by technology as well as because it's coming to India this October is the Mercedes-Benz C 200 Sedan.
Platform and development
The new C-Class is based on the MRA platform and features the same independent multi-link front and rear suspension configuration as before. Overall, the C-Class range adds the option for adaptive suspension with steel springs, called Dynamic Body Control, to the range, sitting between the normal and air suspension options. But the story stealer of the C 200 is the engine.
The C 200's 1.5-litre turbo-petrol
The M 264 series of petrol engines are Mercedes' new model engines, as already seen on the CLS. In the big picture, the engines have pistons designed to run cooler for stable combustion as well as better emissions performance. They also have plastic engine insulation and mounts, a continuously variable valve lift system, conical cylinder blocks to cut piston skirt friction and more.
But the piece the resistance on the C 200 is the belt-driven starter-generator (BSG) that headlines a 48V subsystem by Bosch. The BSG, EQ Boost in Mercedes-speak, allows up to 14 PS of power and 160 Nm of torque to be added to the engine's output. Think of it as a mild-hybrid except that Mercedes uses it essentially to fill in what might have turbo lag on the twin scroll turbo inline four petrol engine.
So the 1.5-litre turbo-four makes 184 PS from 5,800 to 6,100 rpm and 280 Nm between 3- and 4,000 rpm. 100kmph takes 7.7 seconds and top speed is 239 kmph.
And then you drive it
But you don't notice the fact that there is less torque over a larger rev band according to the spec sheet compared to the older model when you drive it. The C 200 feels alert and sprightly, and is easy to drive.
The engine feels unstrained, there isn't any turbo lag and only keeping an eye on the Boost/Charge gauge at the bottom of the rev counter display shows you what EQ Boost is up to.
The 9G TRONIC 9-speed automatic isn't the fastest shifting transmission in the world but it matches the feel and nature of C 200 well enough.
The net result is a pleasant car that you'll like driving in our conditions.
Mercedes-Benz has also given the C-Class a slightly larger body for a slightly more spacious cabin and completely revamped the interior, including the electronics as well. We do have a detailed story on this so I won't go into too much detail.
But the first thing you notice is the fancy new S-Class inspired steering wheel. It has two Blackberry-style small touchpads, cruise controls and more on the wheel. The little stalk behind the steering wheel is gone.
Two touchpads? The instruments are a high-res screen and you can use the left touchpad to control what is shown on the instruments. Mercedes also offers three different themes for the instrument cluster to suit your taste - elegance, sport or hardcore.
The other touchpad controls the central screen, another high res unit. Our cars had the larger 10.25-inch screen but the standard in most markets is a 7-inch unit and we aren't sure which trims or models will get what size of screen.
But this crisp screen is controlled by the right side touchpad as well as the touchpad on the centre console. It took a moment to get used to the control scheme but the menus seemed clearer to understand and use on our short drive.
So once you fall into a rhythm you find the C 200 to be a comfortable cruiser, capable of sustained autobahn speeds as well as a slow speed crawl. Mercedes still doesn't use touchscreens and if that's your thing, you'll just have to wait a bit longer.
Oh, and if you're in Europe, the C-Class now has a full suite of advanced semi-autonomous driving systems. I used these repeatedly and they performed rather well too. Of course, it remains to be seen how many of these come to India and how they deal with our conditions. But automatic lane changes, lane keeping even when there are no lane markings and other interesting capabilities are now present even on the C-Class!
All this goodness is wrapped up in an updated bodyshell where the front and rear bumpers and especially the headlights received a lot of attention. While a halogen headlamp is still the standard fitment, Mercedes offers the futuristic LED head lamp as an option - we expect this to be standard in India. The top of the line headlamp is a rather ornate design which Mercedes calls Multibeam LED with Ultra Range High Beam - likely to be optional. These, the bumpers and a selection of new alloy wheels, interior trim materials and colours mark out a savvy, upmarket new C-Class.
The new C-Class is likely to come to India this October and we hear that three models are on the definites list. The C 200 is the petrol while the C 220 d will be the volume diesel. Mercedes-Benz will also bring the C 300 d as the faster diesel and naturally, the Mercedes-AMG C 43 Sedan. The C 43 Coupe could also see an India outing as could the C 300 petrol in the future.