Why would I buy it?
- Modern cabin that's a league ahead of its class
- Looks handsome
Why would I avoid it?
- More expensive than before
- No major mechanical changes over the predecessor
Engine and Performance
In this third-gen Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the powertrain options are carried over from the previous model. So, you get the familiar 1.5-litre petrol engine in the C200 which makes 203bhp and 300Nm. The C220 diesel gets a 2.0-litre engine making 197bhp and 440Nm. Meanwhile, the range-topping diesel is what we are driving in this review – the C300d, which has an output of 262bhp and 550Nm. All three engines are four-cylinder units, paired to a nine-speed automatic as standard. Also standard across the range is a 48V mild-hybrid which comes with an integrated starter generator and is aimed to provide a boost, help in coasting, and increase fuel efficiency.
Now, this is not a proper angry AMG. So, there’s no sense of occasion when you crank it up. But the diesel is silent at idle inside the cabin. Dial up the revs and you hear a throaty exhaust note. Even in the comfort mode, which we have been driving all day in, the throttle response is alert, and the steering is quite precise. And if you want some more out of the engine, there’s sport mode which weighs up the steering and holds the revs longer. Then, the gearshifts on this nine-speed automatic gearbox are seamless. But you can see the gearbox constantly going up and down to find the right gear to balance power and efficiency.
Ride and Handling
Behind the wheel, the visibility is fantastic. The steering is direct and precise; combined with a powerful diesel motor, the C300d was a hoot to drive around the narrow twisties of Mussoorie. The mechanical hasn’t changed much over the previous gen, but the C now feels more composed over bad roads at slow speeds. It might send a thud inside the cabin over really bad surfaces but overall, the slow speed ride isn’t bad for a city slicker. Although the steering lacks a bit of feel, it is quite precise and the C300d sticks into the corner with good composure
Mercedes-Benz is calling the new C-Class the ‘Baby S-Class’. It may look like it in pictures from certain angles, but in the metal, it’s far from it. Upfront, you get this different grille which is much sportier and inspired by bigger AMGs with its frown-like design. Lower down, there are the fake air vents and headlamps. It has a familiar family face which is seen on the E-Class and the S-Class but here on the C, it looks much sportier and more distinctive. The standard C-Class gets 17-inch wheels but here on the AMG Line, you get these AMG-spec wheels with thick rims that stand out. In fact, the silhouette of the C-Class is stout and sporty and has the right amount of muscle all around.
Now at the back, there’s a tight boot line and LED tail lamps which resemble the A-Class more, and lower down the bumper are these faux exhaust tips with chrome surround. In terms of size, the new-gen C-Class has grown in dimensions. It’s 65mm longer and 20mm wider than the outgoing model and the wheelbase is increased by 25mm, 21mm of which is benefitting the rear legroom.
Comfort, Convenience, and Features
Now in the sixth generation, the cabin of the C-Class is tough to differentiate from the S-Class. There’s a massive touchscreen panel placed over the wooden dash and, interestingly, the current E doesn’t get this layout. As for the steering wheel, in this AMG spec, you get a flat bottom one with a leather wrap for a sporty feel. Behind the steering wheel is a 12-inch all-digital screen which has fancy looking graphics and throws out every piece of information you’d ever want, and some more. You can have many different combinations to show up on the screen and never get bored looking at it day in and day out.
Then there are three air vents in the centre of the dashboard but these look subdued compared to the rotary style air vents seen on the A-Class. Now this centre screen despite the massive feel is accessible without having to reach your arms out. It has buttons here below and the screen in itself is bright with good touch response. It’s running the same MBUX system which has been around for some time now and so the interface is familiar and easy to navigate around. Not to forget, there’s also a fingerprint lock system here, just like you get on your smartphones.
As usual, the quality of the material is top-notch and nothing short of what you’d expect from a three-pointed star. There are soft-touch materials used all around and even the plastics have a smooth glossy finish to them. Compared to its rivals, this cabin is far more aesthetic and definitely a better place to be in. It’s not as opulent as the S-Class, given its tight dimension and the S-Class being in a different league, but the new C-Class surely succeeds at giving you the flagship feel here in the cabin
Now at the back, the added wheelbase has provided some legroom for the second-row passengers but it’s barely noticeable. Most of the owners spending time here would not find it a bad place to be in. And there’s 450 plus litres of boot space before the spare wheel occupies most of it. But there’s a provision to fold down the rear seats if you have more stuff to move around.
On the features front, there’s a long list here. The new-gen C-Class comes with Mercedes’ digital headlight as standard and LED tail lamps at the back. It also comes with driver-assist features which include active braking and park assist. On the inside, there’s a sunroof, dual-zone climate control, electrically powered front seats, a Burmeister sound system, and a new-age connectivity feature in the form of ‘Mercedes Me Connect’ that also gets voice commands. Then, there is the in-built navigation system, and the new 3D maps for all the major cities across India. There’s no 360-degree camera though. Moreover, there’s also a special Car-to-X connectivity feature which connects the S-Class and C-Class on the roads through a social network. Through this feature, the data collected by the S-Class on the roads, such as traffic jams or bad road conditions, would be transmitted to the C-Class so that the C-Class owner can be well aware and take a better route while driving.
Mercedes-Benz India is looking at 2022 to be their bestselling year ever. With the launch of this new-gen C-Class, it won’t be difficult for their order book, which is already full, to see a good surge. What the new C-Class has got going for itself are good looks, a modern and luxurious cabin, and this C300d also provides a good blend of driving dynamics, and yet is flashier and more stylish compared to others in its class. Prices for the new C-Class will be announced shortly and we think they should range between Rs 50 to 60 lakh.
And as for calling it the Baby S, we surely think it justifies the name because the C-Class has so many goodies trickled down from the most expensive S-Class. It offers the buyer a taste of luxury and comfort in a much more affordable package. It’s like getting a slice of a very big and expensive cake. Even though it’s a slice, it has all the same ingredients and tastes just as delicious.
Pictures by Kapil Angane