The baby S-Class
I can vividly remember the first Mercedes C-Class, a gracious yet demure automobile whose understated elegance and multitude of models lured new customers to the brand. By adding more vitality to each subsequent model, the C-Class caught up to its dynamic rivals while attracting younger drivers.
This new model range, known as W205 by your dealer, aims to continue in this tradition by doing the seemingly impossible and jolly painful split between trusted Benz values and hip, sporty ‘n modern demands. And judging by first impressions, they’ve certainly pulled it off.
The body of this new C-Class has a mesmerising blend of modern style and classic Mercedes design cues, which lead to a lot of people accusing our car of being an S-Class. Unless you own an S-Class, this is great news. It’s also exceptionally clever as it won’t scare purists and takes care of aspirations, too.
Its interior is even more astonishing with premium surfaces on multiple levels and a swooping center console. Condensed button clusters and a multi-function knob (with built-in touch pad) control a superb infotainment system via a seemingly detached, high-resolution monitor. Compared to the first C-Class, it’s very umm, bling.
Standard features on any new C-Class include a lot of safety, luxury and convenience items but before I get tangled in these – and the many models or packages – highlights include climate control, leather trim, front power seats, Collision Prevention Assist as well as Agility Control selective damping.
Seating comfort and driving position are excellent; Mercedes would be mad to mess with these. However, all-round visibility is further reduced as the car’s shoulder line and wedge profile rise with each generation. The same is true of any modern car and the C-Class isn’t shy of optional parking and camera systems.
And just like on big bro S, the three-pointed hood ornament has slid halfway out of sight and seems in danger of dropping off the edge in the near future. Let’s hope not. Far more important to me was the determination of our C250 test car’s road manners. Does it still drive like a Merc?
If default gear changes, engine response, steering feedback and pedal feel are in question, yes. This C250 is light and refined to pilot but I personally found its ride too hard at low speeds, even in the “Comfort” or “Eco” settings of its Agility Control suspension modes. It’s not the Mercedes comfort levels of old.
What that means, though, is that the C-Class rides and handles more like a sports sedan. Especially when selecting Sport or Sport+, our test car alienated its roots even further. Snappy response, nippy steering, agile cornering and forceful up-shifts with exhaust burps are very un-Mercedes but oh-so exciting.
Deactivating the ESP will even loosen that rear end and our C250 smoked its way to 100km/h in just 6.4 seconds, hitting 400m in 14.5 seconds. Top speed is limited to 250km/h; all of which is the work of a 1,991cc four cylinder turbo-petrol and its 155kW (211hp) at 5,500rpm or 350Nm from just 1,200rpm.
That last figure, the low-down clout of torque, comes in handy in almost every driving mode or mood, helping the C250 to claimed averages of just 123g CO/km or 5.6L/100km from the 66L tank. A start/stop system and three-way Eco gauge promote further frugality but our real-world average was closer to 9L/100km.
Having spent some time in traffic and on the open road, I’m confident that one could get close to 7L/100km in both scenarios yet I sense that the 250 engine’s tempting power reserves may also be the undoing of your economy run. One thing’s for certain though, this car cruises and eats kilometres like a proper Mercedes.
The optional LED headlights on our test car were just as excellent as its high-speed damping, cornering and economy. We felt that road noise was a bit high which is probably down to the (admittedly, stunning) 18-inch wheels fitted here. A set of 17-inch wheels might be better and could also improve low-speed ride quality.
Should you feel rather flush while ordering your new C-Class, I can also recommend the optional heads-up display, climate front seats, COMAND Online system with 3D navigation and live traffic updates, as well as the N$9,000 Burmester surround system. It’s not quite as good as in the S-Class but still very impressive.
I can vividly remember the first C-Class because I actually owned one. And just like back then, this latest generation with its clever technology indeed feels like a baby S-Class, which is the highest praise possible. The C250 starts at N$502,600 which includes a six-year/100,000km maintenance plan.
0-10km/h: 0.35 seconds
0-20km/h: 0.78 seconds
0-30km/h: 1.21 seconds
0-40km/h: 1.70 seconds
0-50km/h: 2.28 seconds
0-60km/h: 2.95 seconds
0-70km/h: 3.63 seconds
0-80km/h: 4.40 seconds
0-90km/h: 5.36 seconds
0-100km/h: 6.40 seconds
0-110km/h: 7.51 seconds
0-120km/h: 8.75 seconds
0-130km/h: 10.14 seconds
0-140km/h: 11.73 seconds
0-100m: 6.18 seconds @ 97.96km/h
0-200m: 9.39 seconds @ 124.53km/h
0-300m: 12.08 seconds @ 142.18km/h
0-400m: 14.49 seconds @ 156.27km/h
Maximum acceleration G-force: 0.68G
All data captured by Racelogic® Performance Box