Tested: 2022 Mercedes-Benz C220d Avantgarde

Not too long ago, medium-sized turbo-diesel luxury sedans were all the rage. This trend was admittedly quite regional but no matter where these automobiles once ruled supreme, their numbers have been mercilessly decimated by the onslaught of SUV’s, crossovers, EV’s or any horrid combination thereof.

To state the painfully obvious, SUV’s and their ilk represent better versatility, increased freedom of (mild off-road) movement and an often misplaced sense of heightened safety. I’ve also learnt over the years that people choose their superior floor clearance because it offers better visibility in heavy traffic, plus easier entry and exit from the vehicle.

Fair enough. There are probably a few more good reasons why the sedan’s time came and went – especially personal and regional ones – but I sincerely hope that they stick around and make a small comeback at some stage. Why? Because for unadventurous plebs like me, who only stick to smooth tarmac, these cars are all we ever need.

There’s a little white lie in that statement as my dream car must have two doors and a big petrol engine, yet back in the real world I wouldn’t snuff at the efficiency and smoothness of a modern diesel and four entryways. Thanks to clever injection and turbocharger systems, these once-rattling oil burners can easily match a petrol unit in terms of power delivery.

Sure, they can’t rev as high as a petrol equivalent, but with today’s 27-speed gearboxes (this C220d has nine ratios, by the way) the latest diesel lumps can use the 4,500-or-so rpm’s in repeated intervals of proper increases in speed. Better still, they stem almost 100% of their twisting power onto the crank from very low down in the rev range.

And now that we’re down here (in the tachometer), this is where you’ll find the vehicle’s sweet spot in terms of consumption. Mercedes-Benz claims an average of just 4.7L/100km from this car’s 66L tank, giving careful pilots a theoretical maximum range of 1,400km between stops at the diesel pumps.

I hope that explains why we at NamWheels still enjoy driving a compact luxury sedan with such a beefy and efficient engine. On top of that, luxury manufacturers like Mercedes have long ago managed to quieten down the tractor noises which once emitted from these self-igniting devices.

For a diesel, the C220d is remarkably quiet.

Even early in the morning, with what we southern Africans would call “cold” temperatures, our white press vehicle refused to hammer or tappet its way to operating temperatures. Once warmed up and at cruising speeds, you’d be hard pressed to find any proof that it’s a diesel. Even turbo-lag is kept to a bare minimum.

If you’re still interested in the actual car, I highly recommend checking out our various reviews or videos to get a better understanding of what the German giant built into their new C-Class. As a summary, it’s caught up to everyone in terms of tech while doing its utmost to retain the trusted level of comfort, safety and understatement.

Once again we have to caution conservative buyers about the amount of gadgets, most of them crammed into a pretty large and vertical television on the dashboard. The steering wheel and instrument cluster (depending on spec level) will also require a fair bit of experimentation before you get used to all their incredible features.

These may be model-dependent but include wondrous stuff like voice command, keyless start, parking sensors and reversing camera, LED headlights, climate control, full vehicle stability control and six airbags. Optional witchcraft includes adaptive cruise control, head-up display, a glass roof and plenty of other driver or luxury aids.

Mercedes-Benz South Africa sells a C200 and C300 petrol alongside this C220d, all of them as sedans or coupés, and the petrol versions as convertibles, too. Where before they would offer a base spec (or “Classic” line) and then escalate over Elegance, Sport or Avantgarde, only the latter is available nowadays; and about two million pretend AMG versions.

If you require some more sedan-friendly numbers, 0-100 should take just 7.3 seconds while the top speed is apparently 245km/h. This 1,993cc four-pot puts out 147kW (162 with mild hybrid assist) or up to 440Nm, while the boot can swallow up to 455L, the turning radius is 11.1 metres and the ground clearance is so woeful that it drags its front skirts on any available surface.

Which brings us full circle to the reason why everyone migrated to SUV’s. And I do mean everyone. My folks, my wife, my brother, my neighbours, almost all of my friends, most of my colleagues and – based on my powers of observation – every single parent at my daughter’s Kindergarten.

Except me. I refuse. I’d rather have this C220d than the admittedly excellent GLB220d, although I’ll probably have to live with the fact that everyone will question my choice, prefer to drive in someone else’s SUV and rob me of any line of sight at a busy intersection.

Good-bye, compact luxury diesel sedan.

Leave a Comment