C-ing clearly now.
Not so long ago Mercedes-Benz launched its facelifted – Merc however prefer ‘new generation’ rather than facelifted – derivative of its ever popular C-class model. Although there are no drastic changes the car still boasts 2000 new components and remains a strong market leader within this highly competitive segment.
The C-Class has in my opinion always been slightly boring when compared to the likes of the 3 Series and A4 with its ‘pretty’ design features. This has now finally changed with the introduction of the ‘new generation’ model. The car exudes a much sportier and mature design than before which is refreshing. The most noticeable reason for this is down to the redesigned front bumper and swept-back headlights which bring the cars design language closer to that of the E-Class in some respect. The rear end has also been given some attention with a new bumper design along with the introduction of new tail light clusters with LED indicators, which add a slight touch of grandeur to the rear end.
So with slight design changes to the exterior Mercedes has pulled of a very worthy competitor to the 3 Series when it comes to the looks department. However it’s the cockpit that has been given the thorough going over and it’s also where we find the biggest changes.
In keeping with the more mature design characteristics of the exterior the interior now features a similar design to that of the E-class with a sportier yet classy dashboard design. Gone is that silly letter box style lid which hid the LCD screen. We now find a much better setup mounted to the top of the dashboard which as mentioned before, is like that of the E-Class model. The instrument cluster is similar yet now features a small colour screen in the centre of the speedometer which displays trip information as well as an integrated menu.
The Merc was also fitted with a new feature called COMAND Online it allows for web browsing. Further enhancements include Bluetooth connectivity which included audio streaming. Once I had paired my phone to the system all I did was leave my Bluetooth on and every time I turned the key in the Merc my songs started playing within seconds. It’s a no hassle system and is very easy to operate. There is also an SD memory card slot.
Also fitted to the car where numerous electronic gadget upgrades, the likes of which included a very handy blind spot assist. The system alerts you if there is a car in your blind spot by displaying an orange or red triangle in either left or right wing mirror. If you activate the indicator or try change lanes while the system is active a loud ringing noise and vibrations through the steering wheel will alert you that it is unsafe.
The C-Class was also fitted with a lane keeping assistance system which ensures that you remain dead centre in your lane – a system which should be fitted to every car these days. Safety is still of utmost importance, with systems like PRE-SAFE Brake, Attention Assist and Adaptive High Beam Assist available with the Intelligent Lighting System which was also fitted to the car.
The car tested here was fitted with the ELEGANCE package. The beige and black interior worked well together and the wood trim – although not to everyone’s fancy – brought an even balance and lightness to the interior, reminding you of the classy factor.
On the road the car feels solid and there is very little road noise. It offers a very comfortable ride and with the day’s getting hotter the air conditioned seats are a welcomed feature. However it’s the engine that seriously impressed me the most. Sure on the boot lit it says C250 but in keeping with Mercedes tradition it’s in fact an eighteen hundred motor. The same one found in the C180 and C200 models. It is fitted with a very big turbo though which allows the C250’s 1.8litre motor to push out 150kW and 310Nm of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through Mercedes’s acclaimed 7G-Tronic Plus transmission. Although not quite 100% yet it is still smooth. The problem that I found was that when driving normally in an un-sporty manner the gearbox couldn’t quite make up its mind when you pull away or when you try overtaking someone. It tries to compensate for turbo lag or something. The trick is to either drive slow and ‘Merc-ish’ or quick, like ‘BMW-ish’. The latter is much better though because this C-Class is very quick and surprisingly fun and sporty to drive.
On a twisty mountain road and with the transmission in Sport mode the driving experience is very rewarding to say the least. Through the corners the car livens up , as soon as that big turbo wakes up the rear end becomes very mercurial, until the traction control kicks in and sorts it all out. Thank-fully though you can turn it off, well sort of.
Overall this facelifted or new generation C-Class is very impressive to look at and the C250 BlueEfficiency model I tested here has really upped the C-Class in my books. It offers a comfortable ride with enough get-up and go for everyday driving pleasure. I was not expecting it to deliver what it delivered and how it delivered it.
At R469 000 it is pricy considering that is the standard price and the model tested here had many an optional extra taking the price much higher. That said though, I feel that if you are cautious with the options list the C250 is a great package. It looks the part and certainly feels every bit a Mercedes-Benz should feel. With an all-new 3 Series on the horizon Mercedes had no choice but to inject some new life into its C-Class range, which they have done, and done well.
By Justin Jacobs
Price: R469 000(standard price)
Displacement (cc) 1796
Rated output (kW at r/min) – (150@5500)
Rated torque (Nm at r/min – (310@2000–4300)
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s) – (7.2)
Top speed (km/h) – (240)
Consumption (L/100km) – 8.0l average over approx. 550KM( combined)