Mercedes C-Class Diesel Review
Car Tested: 2015 Mercedes-Benz C220 CDI
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 51.86 – 55.74 lakhs
The C-Class is highly appealing inside-out and the diesel model has ample performance
Although diesel fuel has been deregulated and the price of petrol fuel seems quite attractive, diesel cars still rule because of their better mileage which results in a much better tank range. Besides that, diesel variants are always in more demand for multiple reasons, when you consider luxury cars. Mercedes-Benz brought in the fourth generation C-Class late last year (in petrol guise only) and now the diesel model is here. While the petrol C-Class is now being locally assembled, the diesel version of the vehicle is brought in via the CBU route and both fuel options are offered in top trims with a host of kit on offer (the diesel also gets a lower spec Style variant). We get behind the wheel of the C220 CDI to see how the all new C-Class fares with an oil burner powering it.
Exteriors – The diesel C-Class looks identical to the petrol C-Class and the only thing that sets them apart is the badging on the boot, the diesel model reading C220 (instead of C200) and there is a CDI badge on the right side of the boot. The rear-wheel drive baby Merc has drawn styling inspiration from the S-Class and looks like a mini version of Benz’ top of the line sedan, which does make it standout in its segment. The sharp lines aren’t easily seen on this blue colour but the presence of the C-Class is without doubt striking. The best elements are the lights of course with the all LED units really catching one’s eyes.
Interiors – The cabin of the diesel C-Class is also identical to the petrol model, it too takes inspiration from the S-Class which truly makes it stand apart from its rivals. The cabin is a nice place to be in, the dashboard is rich and attention to detail is in excess, just what is expected out of a Mercedes. The use of multiple colours on the dashboard have been done very tastefully, the layout is neat and controls are easy to access. The tablet like 8.4-inch multimedia screen carries a ton of information and the ‘Car’ button displays things just like how it does on the flagship S, nice. There are a ton of features on offer and the C-Class can match its immediate elder sibling in terms of equipment, that’s how loaded it is.
What we love is the touch-control for the COMAND system and the buttons on the centre console that take inspiration from an aircraft. The front seats offer terrific comfort and the thigh support is adjustable too, thanks to the electric adjustment function for the front seats. However, at the rear, under-thigh support could have been better although legroom and headroom is in plenty. Although some AMGs don’t have it, the C-Class gets push button start/stop. Other noteworthy features include rear camera with guidelines, three zone climate control, panoramic sunroof, 3 colour ambient lighting and a 13-speaker Burmester audio system. There is also a two pin plug for powering your laptop!
Performance – Powering the Mercedes C-Class diesel is a 2.1-litre, 4-pot mill which outputs 170 PS of power and 400 Nm of torque, this is of course the C220 and not the C250, the latter shares its engine specs and tune with the E250 and ML250. This engine needs little introduction as it also powered the old C-Class, it has a strong mid-range with low-end performance being good too. Thus, every input of the throttle makes this Mercedes react instantly, resulting in quick progress to high speeds. The C-Class gets Auto stop/start to boost efficiency and our test car returned 12 km/l when driven with a heavy foot.
The C220 CDI is the more practical engine on the C-Class, the diesel mill offering plenty of punch
There is good enough grunt to amble around town effortlessly or blast out on the highway at upper triple speeds. While the motor impresses with its low and mid-range performance, it disappoints with its lack of a top-end. Pushing the motor post 3500 RPM isn’t going to excite you as much as working the mid-range does. Redline comes in at around 4800 RPM and the unit is vocal near the limiter but the NVH is very sorted at all times. 0-100 km/hr takes 7.62 seconds as per our VBOX tests while the top speed is 233 km/hr. It’s that strong punch from the powertrain that not only shelves you back into the seat but also makes high speed cruising and overtaking a complete breeze, a little road noise does creep in though.
Unlike old Mercs, new models like the C-Class come with five Agility settings – Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual. These alter the engine, AC and steering of the vehicle in the C-Class. In Eco, the motor takes it easy and the gearbox shifts with utter secrecy but the punch is missing. Things get better (from the performance perspective) with each mode, S+ being the most intense of them all where power is quite spiky, making it best for use on the open road. The 7-speed torque converter isn’t very quick with shifts but has smoothness on its side, one can change cogs using the steering mounted paddles. 100 km/hr comes up in third gear while at the same speed in top gear, you would be doing 1500 RPM, so a small nudge of the big pedal is enough to do a quick overtake.
Driving Dynamics – Underpinned by the Mercedes Rear Architecture (MRA) platform, the new C-Class isn’t as accomplished in the ride quality department as its predecessor. This is because with the drop in weight of 100 kgs, the new Benz has been stiffened up, the Indian model getting a higher ground clearance with the use of taller springs. Ride quality is still very good but you can feel that firmness in the chassis and that really reflects on bad roads. That said, Mercedes has got a good balance between ride and handling on the new C-Class.
The vehicle is enjoyable to push around corners as it is eager to turn and maintain its line with thorough composure. Mercedes has achieved excellent weight distribution on the new C-Class which now uses an electric steering wheel, making us miss the old car for the new model simply doesn’t have the same level of feel. That said, the new C-Class’ light steering will be appreciated by many in city driving while at high speeds, it still manages to weigh up quite well. The car remains glued to the road at high speeds, stability being excellent and the brakes do their job exceptionally well. One can’t turn off the traction control system so no sideways antics here.
Verdict – Mercedes-Benz is on a roll and its second launch for the year, the C-Class diesel is bound to get them more volumes. The new C-Class is without doubt expensive but you do get your money’s worth thanks to the level of kit thrown in. The diesel engine offers good performance and is frugal too, ensuring buyers of this luxury car have little to complain about. Mercedes will bring in the locally assembled diesel C-Class later in the year but even as a CBU, the diesel C-Class makes for an excellent package.
The new Mercedes C-Class has already made rivals worried and with the diesel version coming in, the highly appealing baby rear drive Benz has become the default choice for a majority of buyers.
* Exterior and interior styling
* Level of equipment
* Ride-handling balance
What’s Not So Cool
* C250 instead of C220 should have been offered
Alternatives: BMW 3-Series, Audi A4
Further Reading –