2015 Mercedes C-Class Test Drive Review
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Mercedes C-Class Review

Car Tested: 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class (C200)

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 51.54 lakhs

The new C-Class is a mini S-Class in a lot of ways which makes it thoroughly desirable

In spite of what automobile pundits say about the Indian car market, nothing has fazed Mercedes-Benz, a manufacturer which is set to launch its 10th product and also the most important for the Indian market, the fourth generation C-Class. The importance of the C-Class in India can’t be questioned as we are among the first few to get the right-hand drive model. While it has been the entry to the coveted three pointed club for the whole of last decade, the C-Class has now grown and is no longer Mercedes’ entry-level model in India. Justifying its upward movement in positioning is the car itself, the new C has been heavily influenced from the new S but how good a thing is that?

Motor Quest: The Mercedes C-Class was the company’s entry level offering till the A-Class arrived. The first generation model was launched in 1993 while the second generation came in 2000 and was sold in India The third generation C-Class was launched in 2007 while the latest gen model only debuted earlier this year.

2015 Mercedes C-Class Review2015 Mercedes C200 Review

The new Mercedes C-Class has strikingly similar design elements to the S-Class both at the front and rear

Exteriors – In spite of being on sale for a good seven years, the third generation C-Class wasn’t exactly as dated as you would expect. However, the new model just takes things forward and that too in a big way. The styling takes hefty cues from Mercedes’ flagship sedan, the S-Class. There is a striking similarity between the S and the C, while the upcoming next generation E-Class will also be largely like the best car in the world, thereby falling in sync with the Stuttgart automaker’s new design language. Still if one looks closely, they can easily distinguish the new C-Class from the S-Class, the smaller Merc having more compact proportions although it has grown up in size when compared to its predecessor.

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The side profile is also S-Class like but smaller proportions signal it’s the C

The fourth generation Mercedes C-Class looks every bit as elegant as a car with the three pointed star should. There is the twin-slate grille at the front with the logo sitting right between while the full LED lights at the front and rear have massive detailing. The vehicle has prominent lines running across, giving it a clean and purposeful stance while the necklace shaped tail lights gel well with the V-shaped boot. The detailing on the lower parts of the bumper give the car a sporty flavour, the rear getting a diffuser and nicely shaped exhaust pipes. Overall this car does make most people mistake it for an S-Class and that’s a huge compliment in itself.

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Sporty yet elegant, the new C-Class’ cabin is a notch above and clearly amazing

Interiors – The C-Class has been Mercedes’ entry-level sedan for quite a long time but not anymore. The introduction of the CLA has led to the C-Class going upmarket and as soon as you step inside the car, that’s immediately apparent. The interiors of the new C-Class are a class above its predecessor, while inspiration from the S-Class is obvious, the dashboard has its own aura with a mix of sporty and luxury in it. The dual tone dash of the new C-Class look rich and the centre console gets high gloss lime wood finish (also the traditional Mercedes clock) which further amplifies the overall appeal of the cabin. Neat placement of buttons along with terrific fit and finish are the highlights of this cabin. The round AC vents are very S-Class like and so are the buttons and touchpad in the centre to operate the COMAND system. Even the buttons on the doors (specially the front where the electric adjustment for the seats is placed) have taken more than a leaf out of the S-Class design book.

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Rear seat offers a better experience over the previous C-Class but only for two

The interiors of the new Mercedes C-Class are a clear cut above its immediate rivals, they look and feel terrific

Yielding more space inside the C-Class is the removal of the gear lever, the baby rear-wheel drive Benz gets the gear selector lever on the right stalk like all other Mercs. There are quite a few storage places inside the cabin and the Stuttgart automaker has gone ahead and loaded this car with plenty of kit too. The C200 variant we tested had everything you would expect from a car of this price and that includes things like an 8.4-inch screen for the infotainment system which is loaded with a lot of features like 3D satellite navigation, phone connectivity (including apps), etc. You can also control vehicle settings including ambient lighting (3 colours – ice blue, white, amber), seat belt adjustment, door locking, locator illumination, etc. Other features include a rearview camera with guidelines, reverse parking sensors (the display is on the cluster as well), three zone climate control, front and rear panoramic roof, ARTICO leather upholstery, push button start/stop and a 13-speaker Burmester sound system that sounds excellent.

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Very impractical way of storing a spare tyre, this does rob a lot of practicality

The front seats offer good support and have been designed to fit all kinds of people, you sit snug and the seat hugs you thereby ensuring no fatigue even on long drives. Both the front seats are electrically adjustable with memory function. The new C-Class is aimed at the rear passenger, as so evident by the sun blinds on the windows of the rear doors as well as an electrically operated one for the rear windshield. The rear AC vents have seven fan speeds and we love the way the buttons operate, you push up or down to toggle. The rear seat now offers much needed improvement in legroom which makes the C-Class a good chauffeur driven car, there is also good amount of headroom for tall passengers but under-thigh support is a bit lacking. The rear bench is best for two as the transmission tunnel intrudes massively at the rear, thereby preventing a third person from sitting comfortably. Cabin lights at the rear are placed at either ends as the panoramic roof prevents a centre cabin light from being placed. While boot space is decent, the placement of the space saver tyre in the boot (and not under it) hampers its usage.

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The 2.0-litre petrol mill packs in a strong mid-range punch and is very refined

Performance – Mercedes is only launching the petrol C-Class for the time being with the diesel model set to go on sale early next year. The all new C-Class is being brought down via the CBU route and local assembly will commence when the diesel model is launched. The petrol C-Class, better known as the C200, is powered by a 2.0-litre, 4-pot mill which outputs 181 HP of power and 300 Nm of torque. As you would expect, the motor is terrifically refined at idle and barely heard till you give it the beans where is emits a rather pleasing note. The powerplant has good amount of low-end poke but it’s really the mid-range where it shines while the top-end isn’t as frantic. Mercedes claims a 0-100 km/hr time of 7.3 seconds and we achieved the same time with our VBOX tests, while 150 km/hr comes in just over 16 seconds which is impressive.

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0-100 km/hr takes just 7.3 seconds and there are five driving modes on offer

The new C-Class uses the same petrol motor as the E-Class but is much lighter giving it more punch

This performance of the new C-Class can be attributed to its aerodynamics. The new car has a CD value of just 0.24 and has a very aerodynamic body to reduce wind resistance, making it the most aero efficient in its class. The motor doesn’t rev as quickly but that let’s you enjoy the rush with the exhausts emitting their best post 4000 RPM. 100 km/hr comes up in third while at the same speed in top gear, you will be doing 1800 RPM on the tacho. Paired to this motor is the 7G-TRONIC Plus automatic gearbox which goes about doing its job smoothly but is far from the quickest in the business. It simply won’t downshift until and unless you give it a couple of hints, like getting the revs down or prodding the accelerator pedal or even using the steering mounted paddles.

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The 7-speed automatic gearbox isn’t fast enough but is very smooth with shifts

The 2015 Mercedes C-Class gets ‘Agility Select’ which is the company’s speak for driving modes and there are 5 of them – Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual. These modes alter the engine, gearbox, steering and climate control but don’t touch the suspension. It’s only in the Sport+ mode does the Start/Stop system get deactivated (you can also shut it with a press of a button on the centre console). In Eco mode, the engine shows its best behaviour of being extremely silent and the gearbox goes about doing its business in total secrecy. As you go up the modes, everything becomes more intense, like in Sport+, the engine is at its peak (going into Comfort slows down the 0-100 km/hr time by half a second) while the gearbox will hold cogs much longer, the powertrain does get a bit jerky. While the ARAI mileage is 14.74 km/l, we got almost 10 km/l on our test.

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The C-Class has good ground clearance but is stiffly sprung which affects ride quality

Driving Dynamics – The new C-Class uses a new platform called MRA which translates to Mercedes Rear-wheel Drive Architecture. The new chassis is lighter by around 100 kgs (the fuel tank has been reduced to contribute to weight saving) and that can be felt immediately once you get behind the wheel. With lightness has come more stiffness and the Indian model rides on taller springs for added ground clearance that affects the ride quality. It doesn’t ride as beautifully as the old car although the ride quality is still befitting a Mercedes. On bad roads, the stiffness can be felt but the good part is, it simply doesn’t touch its underbelly on any speed-breaker due to the improved ground clearance.

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The C-Class is an eager handler with sure-footed dynamics, the steering is quicker now

The new C-Class has almost perfect weight distribution and is quite agile too. It handles well and is eager to dart into corners with body control being excellent. The Indian model doesn’t get AIRMATIC suspension so the changes of the settings in the Agility Select only alter the steering wheel as far as dynamics go. The new C-Class uses an electric steering which is quicker than before but simply can’t match the level of feel and feedback of the hydraulic unit powering the old car. Still the new electric steering gives a good balance of feel and lightness as at low speed, it is easier to manoeuvre the car. High speed stability is excellent and so is the braking.

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The last as well as current generation C-Class have received 5-star NCAP rating

Safety and After Sales Service – Even the last generation C-Class got 5-stars from Euro NCAP and so did the latest model. The car is equipped with a plethora of safety features including seven airbags, ABS, BAS, ASR and ESP with curve dynamic assist. There is also hill start assist and Mercedes’ PRE-SAFE safety. Mercedes has the biggest dealership network in luxury cars in our country and their service is known to be excellent too with mostly positive words being spoken by owners.

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Mercedes has yet another winner in its hands with the all new C-Class

Verdict – The entry-level rear-wheel drive luxury car class is an important segment for the German trio. The C-Class was facing tough competition from the F30 BMW 3-Series which took the game forward by several notches. With the new C-Class, Mercedes hasn’t just replied but also re-written the rules of the segment. The fourth generation C-Class is not only better in most respects, it’s way more desirable too. While early adopters will have to do with the petrol only option, those looking for a diesel car in this segment should definitely wait as the new C-Class is as thoroughly impressive as a Merc should be.

The Mercedes C-Class takes the game forward and the new model is not only better to look at but also much improved on the inside with a ton of equipment as standard. It continues to drive well with good dynamics and packs in a lot of appeal.

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The launch variant of the new C comes with a lot of kit but at a price

What’s Cool

* Design and appeal
* Interior and equipment
* Performance and handling

What’s Not So Cool

* 7-speed gearbox isn’t as fast as it should be
* Launch model is loaded but will be pricey

Alternatives: BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, Volvo S60

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Mercedes is on a roll and the new C-Class will make things difficult for rivals

Mercedes C-Class Specifications

* Engine: 1991cc, turbocharged, 4-cylinder
* Power: 181 HP @ 5500 RPM
* Torque: 300 Nm @ 1200-1400 RPM
* Transmission: 7G-TRONIC Plus 7-speed automatic
* 0-100 km/hr: 7.3 seconds
* Top Speed: 235 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 10 km/l (City), 12 km/l (Highway)
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Suspension: Multi-link
* Tyres: 225/50/17
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Disc (Rear), ABS
* Safety: Seven Airbags, ABS, BAS, ASR, ESP

Mercedes C-Class Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 4686 mm X 1810 mm X 1442 mm
* Wheelbase: 2840 mm
* Turning Radius: 5.61 metres
* Ground clearance: 160 mm (est.)
* Boot Volume: 480 liters
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 66 litres
* Kerb Weight: 1545 kgs