The Luxury Baby Benz

It might be compact, but the new Mercedes C-Class is no less high-end.

By Gaith Madadha

When first introduced during the 1980s, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class’ 190-series predecessor was seen as the Stuttgart brand’s ‘baby-Benz.’ The latest fourth generation C-Class incarnation, however, moves up in the automotive world. The new C-Class has become bigger and more technologically advanced, with a vastly expanded model portfolio, specifically the smaller and more affordable front-wheel-drive CLA-Class saloon, which was recently introduced. The new C-Class seems to focus more on luxury and elegance.

Mercedes’ smallest saloon based on rear-drive architecture, the new W205 generation C-Class’ enhanced luxury and technology leads some to dub it a ‘baby S-Class’ in reference to Mercedes’ flagship luxury model. It is the first in its segment with optional adaptive air suspension, which is usually reserved for full-size luxury chariots, while its most significant advance is weight-saving and stiff aluminum construction. Using 50 percent aluminum content compared to its predecessor’s 10 percent, the W205’s body is 70 kg lighter, which contributes to better performance and efficiency. Body rigidity pays dividends in refinement, handling, and crash safety.

Driven by a twin-turbocharged direct injection 3-liter V6 engine, the driven C400 4Matic variant develops 328 BHP at 5250-6000 rpm and 354 lb/ft torque throughout 1600-4000 rpm. Coupled with a 7-speed automatic gearbox, four-wheel-drive, and responsive turbo spooling, the C400 tenaciously digs into tarmac and launches from standstill to 100 km/h in easily under five seconds and onto a governed 250 km/h maximum.

With optional self-leveling adaptive dampers and multi-link suspension, the driven C400 4 matic AMG is composed and reassuringly stable on motorways and well-suppresses acceleration squat, brake dive, and body lean through corners. It can be tailored for smoothness at speed, comfort over imperfections, or taut poise through corners in sport mode. The C400 is adept through cross-country switchbacks and grips hard when exiting corners on throttle, with balanced chassis, four-wheel-drive, and low profile tires. Heavier in front than rear-drive versions, the C400 4Matic is agile and tidy turning in, but not as crisp as a lighter C250 version. Variable electro-mechanical steering is convenient, efficient, and precise.

The W205 is perhaps the best looking car in the Mercedes line up at the moment, and its long A-pillar to front wheel-arch distance underlines its luxury. The AMG version has more presence, with tri-slat emblem adorning its broad grille, muscular bumper and sills, and 18-inch alloys. A design line stretching from under the grille, through headlight LED elements and along its flanks, the C-Class’ flowing design generates low CD0.27 aerodynamic drag and contributes to cabin refinement and 8l/100 km combined cycle fuel efficiency.

Refined, airy, and luxurious, the C400’s ergonomic seats and steering, perfectly accommodate different sizes, while the steering column-mounted gear lever liberates console space. It features chunky steering, coned dials, and an upright dashboard. With soft textures and leathers, the wood grain center console is tasteful and juxtaposed with an Internet-enabled, smart phone-compatible infotainment touchscreen, and touchpad menu selector. High tech safety, driver-assistance semi-autonomous features include a standard collision prevention system—preventing 40 km/h collisions and mitigating the severity of collisions up to 200 km/h.