The 2015 Mercedes C Class – The able son of the S Class raises the bar for all

The iconic three pointed star has always been synonymous with luxury. The C-Class was the entry level star in the Mercedes portfolio for a long time in the country. It still remains one of the top performers for the company and competes in the cut throat segment of entry level luxury sedan with the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 series. Late last year Mercedes unveiled the fourth generation C Class in India, we put to test the C200 Avantgarde and as we found out this was no mild update, to put it in a nutshell think of the 2015 C Class as a teaser for the best of everything that Mercedes has to offer.

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Styling
One look at the C Class and you know its heavily inspired by the flagship S-Class, the face of the car is a clever display of sleek and aggressive styling which is dominated by the full LED headlights and the imposing Mercedes logo on the grill. You have soft smooth lines that continue from the bonnet and merge with the elegantly designed tail lamps. Adding a mild sporty tone to the rear are the trapezoidal exhaust tips and the subtle ducktail spoiler.

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Step inside the cabin and that is where the real craftsmanship of the Mercedes designers comes into play. Round vents disperse the climate controlled air precisely in the cabin, the seat controls are mounted on the doors for easy access, a center dash with glossy wood finish add to this elegantly stitched leather that runs across the door and the dash and you have a pleasant and tastefully upscale cabin. Did I mention that there is also the traditional Mercedes clock. The center console looks exceptionally clean as the gear selector has been shifted to the steering and replaced with a curvy storage compartment. Adapting from the S-Class is the use of switches, we love them in the S-Class and we love them here. They are easy to use and stylish.

Not only does everything feel right where it should belong but its more like each and every element in the cabin is specifically designed for the car.

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The electronically adjusted front seats are extremely comfortable and come with adjustable thigh support making long cruises a breeze. The new C-Class gains some precious extra inches in length which was evident in the ample rear seat legroom even after adjusting the front seat to my height of 6.2 feet. However like with the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 series, the rear seats are a strict two seater with the thick transmission tunnel bumping out. To the aid of the rear passengers are sun binds on the doors and an electrically operated blind on the rear windshield. A three zone air conditioning system channels air in the cabin, along with the temperature rear passengers can choose from seven fan speeds. Overall the cabin is extremely plush and spacious, add to this a front and rear panoramic sunroof, a 3 color ambient lighting system and you have a sure shot winner.

BMW and Audi dont even come close to the C-Class when it comes to the interiors.

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Coming to the tech putting you in control of the entertainment, GPS, connectivity and the car features is the Mercedes COMAND infotainment system. The system consists of a crisp high resolution 8.4 inch screen mated to a rotary dial and a touchpad. The menus are easy to understand and come with some interesting graphics offering a very modern and rich user interface. The touchpad only offers gesture controls to swipe through the menus it lacked character tracing, making us use the the dial to enter alphanumeric characters. Though with a refreshed interface and a gesture controlled touchpad the COMAND interface lacks behind BMW’s iDrive and Audi’s MMI interface when it comes to ease of use and intuitiveness. Other features include Bluetooth and USB connectivity, 3D GPS, rear view camera, park assist with side sensors (a boon while driving on S.V. and Link roads of the world), adaptive LED headlights, rain sensor, etc.

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Then there is the 13 speaker Burmeister audio system which looks beautiful on the door panels and sounds equally good. I loved the audio quality which delivered clear vocal notes and instrumentation. (Note – Mercedes has replaced this sound system with a 6 speaker standard system).

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Driving –
As of now the C Class is offered with only petrol engine in India a 2.0 liter, turbocharged 4 cylinder which churns out 184 horses and 300 nM of torque. It is paired with the fluidic 7G-Tronic Plus transmission To put the car to the test we tried a mix of highway stretches and the treacherous peak Mumbai city traffic. The C200 offers five driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual. The modes can be toggled with the agility selector and each of them changed the throttle response, steering input, gearbox and suspension. Individual mode as the name suggests lets you save custom settings.

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We juggled between the Eco and Comfort for a couple of kilometers in the city traffic, we can say that the C200’s has one heck of a refined engine. It is extremely quiet and thanks to the well insulated cabin you don’t even feel the engine hibernate and come to life when the start / stop system kicks in.

The Eco-Mode is designed specifically to save fuel, it is ideal for crawling traffic but along with the throttle and gearbox even the air-conditioning is adapted for fuel efficiency which can be an issue during summers. Comfort mode delivers the standard driving and transmission settings making it ideal for city driving.

It is on the highway that this new star shines the brightest. The Sport and Sport plus mode make the gear shifts more responsive, dampers stiffer and the steering more agile. The switch from the comfort mode is very evident and you can instantly feel the change even on the slightest push of the acceleration pedal. Sport Plus takes the play a notch higher with thicker delivery of torque, rapid throttle response and a firmer steering, combine these with the paddle shifters and it will have you stomping on the accelerator on your way home from work.

With the exception of the Eco mode the engine is pretty responsive in every mode.

It may not be the quickest in the segment but it easily climbs to three digit speeds.

Though longer than its predecessor the new C Class is lighter by 90 kgs thanks to the generous use of aluminium. It has a top speed of 235 km/hr and Mercedes claims it touches 100 kms/hr from a standstill in 7.3 seconds. The light weight and the fine tuned petrol engine do translate into some very impressive efficiency figures – we got 9.5 kmpl and 13.8 kmpl in the city and highway respectively.

To keep the price down the Indian version of the C Class lacks a host of technologies when compared to its European cousin, one of them being the dynamic Airmatic suspension which is replaced with a standard multilink suspension. Tweaked for Indian roads it does a very good job of absorbing whatever surprises our roads have in store for it. Overall the car is extremely planted and offers minimal body roll.

Although we have always been fans of hydraulic steerings the electric steering on the C Class does not disappoint, it offers decent feedback, is well balanced and changes its dynamics as per the mode selected in Agility Select.

mercedes-benz-c-200-5Verdict –
The 2015 Mercedes C200 is a beautiful car in all senses. Sure it may not be as dynamic as the BMW 3 series or offer value for the money like the Audi A4, but unlike its competition it offers a near perfect blend of luxury, comfort and power. Magnificent interiors, multiple drive modes, excellent fuel efficiency and a responsive engine all elevate the C Class from being a chauffeur driven car to a drivers car. Now available in a diesel avatar as well, we have a feeling that Mercedes is going to sell a ton of these.

Specifications:

Engine1991 cc, 4 cylinder, Turbocharged, Petrol
Power181 bhp @ 5500 RPM
Torque300 Nm @ 1200 RPM
Transmission7-speed auto
0-100kmph7.3 seconds
Top speed235 km/hr
City fuel efficiency9.5 kmpl
Highway fuel efficiency13.8 kmpl
Airbags7 Airbags
SafetyABS, BAS, ASR, ESP
Price, ex-showroom (Mumbai)Rs 52.83 lacs

The Luxe factor is

9 Looks
8 Handling
9 Comfort
7 Value for money
8.3
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