Car tested: 2009 Mercedes C230 Avantgarde V6 Petrol (W204)
Price OTR Mumbai: 39,01,884/-
When Mercedes-Benz launched the C-Class (W204) in India we weren’t quite bothered to get our hands on the baby Merc. However we always wondered why Mercedes charges such a huge premium for their cars. When we got our hands on the Mercedes C-Class (C230) we got a definitive answer to our question.
Exteriors – A Merc is a Merc. Where ever you go people do tend to turn around and look. The car does look stunning. Particularly the Avantgarde version. At the front the big 3 pointed badge on the grille looks eye catching. The shape seems to be evolved from the Mercedes S Class. However the rear looks quite average. Tail lights seem to be borrowed from the Honda City. The third stop lamp has LED which looks quite cool. The wheels look stunning and give the car a sporty appearance. When viewed from the side, the car looks like a big car, but is the space well utilised?
Interiors – The answer to the previous question is a big NO. Mercedes seem to have allocated most of the space to the hood. Maybe because they designed the car with the C63 AMG in mind, which has a monstrous V8 engine. There is lack of space for 6 footers at the front. While driving with the seats pushed well back and the steering at its highest position, your knees would touch the dashboard. The C Class has light and wiper stalks both on the left side, so if you want to cancel the left indicator you just need to do a calf raise. The steering wheel is a bit big then what we would have liked. It has lots of controls on it like audio, multi-information display and telephone controls. Other standard features like auto headlamps, wiper, auto door locking at 20kmph, headlamp washer, sunroof are all the norm in the segment.
At the rear there is not much of a difference, if a six footer is driving the rear seat legroom is just about adequate. The car is more of a 4 seater. 5 can squeeze in but the passenger in the middle won’t feel comfortable. The C-Class should have a flat rear floor. Rear seat is a tad low and the rear head rests are almost useless. Audio quality is quite disappointing considering the speakers are Harman Kardon. Shocking omission of retractable electric mirrors and convex left side mirror. Image on the left side mirror appears magnified which is quite misleading. Since most Mercs are chauffeur driven the lack of audio controls on the rear seat is again quite surprising. Boot space is more then adequate.
Built Quality – Being a Mercedes the built quality is top notch. There was a little squeaky sound from the test car, however the rest fell quite in place. Every screw seems to have been carefully bolted with no mis-fit and thus no vibrations from anywhere whatsoever. Even on harsh bumps there was no rattling. Everything inside the C-Class has a quality associated with it. The 8500kms done test car did not feel old at all and felt it had come right out of the showroom.
On the Move – Switching on the ignition the 6 cylinder Merc comes to life. The interior is very well isolated and you won’t notice the car is running. Slotting the car in D (Drive) the car moves very smoothly. Steering is light and responsive and varies according to speed. As the speed increases the audio system increases the volume, nice. Cruise Control is really cool, once the speed is set, the car stays at the same speed till you apply the brakes, once you leave the brakes the car accelerates to the set speed.
The on-board computer is smart and tells you alot of data like tire pressure monitoring, distance covered, current gear, etc. Heck you can even set your own speed limit. On a spirited run, the car warned us of high tire pressure. The AC is very effective and cools in no time. The blower makes lots of noise though. The horn is very hard, maybe because Germans don’t honk all that much. The headlamp washers work every 10th time you clean your windshield. ESP cannot be switched of for long, it re-activates on its own.
Ride, Handling and Braking – Ride of the C230 Avantgarde was excellent. The car felt like a sofa on wheels. Even on the low profile rubber you never felt the bumps. The Avantgarde version comes equipped with 225/45/17 Michelin Pilot Sports. These tires are by far one of the best available. Any corner, attacked at any speed with any level of aggression and the tires will not make a single noise. Very impressive indeed. This car has one of the best balances of ride quality and handling. Agility control system really helps and the car feels very agile. Braking is exceptional and the car never stopped out of line on high speed braking. The whole car is engineered so well that you never ever think it weighs well over 1.5 tonnes.
Performance – We are not a big fan of auto boxes but the 7G-Tronic gearbox of the C230 is absolutely mindblowing. In auto mode we weren’t quite impressed with a slight lag in response. But once you shift to manual mode all hell breaks loose. You just need to nudge the gear level to the left to downshift and to the right to upshift. If your in D6 and your speed comes down to 40kmph, on nudging the gear lever the car will come directly to D2 and not D5, so you won’t have to go through… D4….D3 to reach 2nd gear. We just loved the gearbox and loved red-lining the engine.
The 6 cylinder engine is a gem, it sounds s-w-e-e-t. On high revving people turned around to look which car just flew by! With the right foot floored the car will rocket all the way to 160kmph, then it starts to loose steam at around 180kmph. At 180kmp you don’t feel its going that fast and the C-Class stays well glued to the road. Engine responds very well on manual mode. We loved the way the engine pulled to 3 digit speeds without skipping a beat and we wonder how the C63 AMG performs (Mercedes are you listening =p).
Conclusion – The Mercedes C-Class is a terrific car to drive, but majority of the buyers would want to be driven in it. This is where the excellent ride quality can come into play. Unlike the BMW 3 Series, the Mercedes C-Class glides over bumps and potholes (Mumbai roads are equivalent of the moon) However the competition is tough. Cheaper cars like the Superb have more space and more equipment but lack the snob value which the Mercedes badge carries. For a driver, the car is an absolute hoot to drive, the combination of ride, handling, stability make the C230 an absolute blast. There are very few cars which have a terrific balance of ride and handling and the C230 is one of them.
- Ride quality
- Manual shifting
- Cruising ability
- Engine sound
- Very well damped and lack of any kind of NVH
- Small mirrors
- Lack of space at the front
- Audio quality
- Basic equipment skipped
- Service costs
Mercedes C230 Avantgarde Specifications –
- Engine: 2496cc, V6
- Power: 204HP @ 6100rpm
- Torque: 245Nm @ 2900-5500rpm
- Transmission: 7G-TRONIC Auto
- Drive: Rear Wheel
- Top Speed: 230kmph (est)
- 0-100kmph: 09.40 seconds (est)
- Fuel Consumption: 5-6 kmpl (City), 8-9 kmpl (highway)
- Fuel Type: Petrol Unleaded
- Suspension: 3 Link with McPherson Struts (Front), Multi-link Independent (Rear)
- Tires: 225/45/17 Tubeless Radials
- Brakes: Internally ventilated discs (Front), Solid discs (Rear) ABS, BAS
- Safety: ABS, BAS, Six Airbags, ESP, Pre-Safe, Neck-Pro, Parktronic, Fuel Cut-Off
Mercedes C230 Avantgarde Dimensions –
- Overall length x width x height: 4596 mm X 1770 mm X 1447 mm
- Wheelbase: 2,715 mm
- Turning Radius – 5.4 m
- Ground clearance: 130 mm
- Boot Volume: 475 liters
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 66 litres
- Kerb Weight: 1560 kgs