For the new generation, Mercedes has opted for occupant comfort over dynamic driving. crankandpiston.com takes the newboy for a spin
|Engine||Power||Torque||0-100kph||Top speed||Weight||Basic price|
|Inline 4cyl, 1991cc||208bhp @ 5500rpm||258lb ft @ 1200-4000rpm||6.6sec||250kph (limited)||1480kg||$48,100|
Before we crack on, take a second to really look at the brand new Mercedes-Benz C-Class. I’ll wait…
…handsome devil, isn’t it? Similar in style to big sister S-Class, true, but a looker no doubt with its elegant mix of sleek bodylines and muscly front end. It’s pretty clear from the get-go that, with its brand new C-Class, Mercedes-Benz isn’t messing around. Whereas its previous incumbent – the W204 of 2007 – focused more on driving dynamics, the latest model is all about refinement, and there’s been some serious work under the skin to emphasise this.
The previous gen chassis for instance has been ditched in favour of the larger and lighter MRA platform (or ‘Modular Rear-wheel drive Architecture’ if you’re curious), allowing more room for passengers: new for old, the new W205 is 95mm longer and 40mm wider. The new framework is a composite fashioned from 50 per cent aluminium, making the newboy 100kg lighter than its predecessor too, a boost for those all-important fuel economy ratings. More technologically advanced when it comes to driver assistance systems (a brief scan of the crib sheet will probably give you acronym diabetes), the new C-Class also welcomes Airmatic air suspension to the segment for the first time for improved ride quality. Neither a traction control button nor smoking tyre to be found, but this new and impressive emphasis on passenger comfort only really begins to shine when you’re in the cabin.
It’s a stunning design, a fine mix of Mercedes’ typically superb build quality and fine materials, from the plush Artico man-made leather seats to the dark wood trim. With that new wheelbase comes more head and legroom in, what frankly already was, a spacious cabin. For this particular writer though, it’s the magnificently elegant centre console that wins the blue ribbon, it being neither unnecessarily showy nor overly complicated. The need for both a touchpad and a rotary dial for the infotainment system is unnecessary and the bolt-on screen is ungainly, but the overall look is spectacular.
Yes, good spot. There is an ‘Agility’ switch, the five-way drive mode selector showing that the C-Class hasn’t lost all its dynamism in the pursuit of occupant hedonism. The new model’s engine range encompasses 154bhp four-cylinders to 242bhp V8 (complete with BlueTEC fuel-efficient options), but under the bonnet of our C 250 test model lies a 208bhp 2-litre four-cylinder, acceleration from which is smooth and linear, swift gear changes through the 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox feeding the power to the rear wheels smoothly rather than aggressively. It’s not slow but speed pick-up doesn’t feel overly rushed either. Couple that with superb ride comfort (that newly designed four-link front axle ironing out each bump) and it’s all very genteel, as you would expect from the new refined C-Class.
There’s a similar sensation through the wheels, power steering taking on most of the grunt work but feeding in just enough heft to keep you connected to the front wheels. Like the acceleration, there’s little tangible aggression, the C 250 wafting its way through corners rather than nailing its nose to oncoming apexes. There’s still good balance from that lighter chassis and it keeps understeer and body roll at bay, but there isn’t the urgency under cornering that you may find in the segment-leading BMW 3 Series. Even sliding the drive mode from Comfort to Sport won’t bring a huge amount of tangible difference. Sure the steering feels heavier, throttle response is more alert and the gear changes are more insistent, but ride comfort is barely affected and the steering could be more direct. But then for the new refined C-Class, that would be missing the point.
It’s honestly difficult to find much wrong with the new Mercedes C-Class. Those of you hoping for a more dynamic drive may want to look elsewhere, the $48K asking price may be a tad steep, and we can only speculate at this moment how the newboy will fare against its arch-rivals from BMW and Audi (cue the group test). Overall though, if you’re in the market for a mid-sized German saloon packing good looks, an elegant seating area and a smooth, comfortable ride, you’d be hard pressed to find something better.
Technical specifications available on page 2