I recently drove the mid-spec Mercedes-Benz C250 BlueTEC diesel and was quite taken by its looks, performance and value.
So, I was keen to find out if the Mercedes-Benz C200 was nothing more than a lost leader, to lure you into the showroom with a short list of standard features and a long list of options.
When I laid eyes on the row of C-Classes at Benz HQ, I pressed the unlock button on the keyfob, to see which one was mine for the week and was delightfully surprised. Because C200 doesn’t look like a base model, isn’t equipped like a base model and, as I discovered, definitely doesn’t drive like a base model.
For $60,990 (+ORC), I think it’s a bargain as you get all the clever engineering, quality, design and safety of the higher priced models in the range without the price tag.
Up close to the gleaming body, I just wanted to forget about everything and drive. But restraining myself from that temptation for a few minutes, I took a good close look around it and even to the untrained eye, it is easy to see the depth of the ultra smooth paintwork and the excellent fit, finish and quality.
It’s a handsome car, with more than a passing resemblance to the S-class limousine thanks to the contours running along its profile, 18-inch five twin-spoke alloy wheels, privacy glass and large aero shaped headlights.
The all-new interior delights the senses with soft touch premium surfaces and an air of prestige. The man-made Artico leather-look seats feel like the real thing and combine superbly with the gloss black centre console, chrome highlights and brushed aluminium garnish. The five circular air vents across the dash give it a cool retro look and the multifunction steering wheel is very comfortable, not to large in diameter or thickness. My only gripe is the Command infotainment touch screen, isn’t integrated into the dash and looks a bit of an afterthought.
Electric seat adjustments made locking in my ideal driving position a breeze. Giving up the driver’s pew with great reluctance, I played front and back seat passenger, finding both rows afforded excellent head and knee room.
The C200 gets its fare share of technology such as the, paddle shifts that move with the steering wheel, the Command infotainment touchscreen with its huge range of apps and menus that’s one of the easiest to use and intuitive on the market, auto dimming interior mirror, parking sensors all round, park assist and lane keep assist.
Powering the C200 is a four-cylinder 2.0 litre direct injection, turbocharged petrol engine with 135 kilowatts of power and an impressive 300 newton metres of torque, from just 1,200rpm. It’s quiet, efficient and powerful, getting from standstill to triple figures in just 7.3 seconds. At all times I found the engine to be more than strong enough and enjoyed many kms of swift progress on back roads. It even impressed at the fuel pump, drinking just 7.1 litres of fuel for every 100km, we travelled together.
Getting the most out of the C200 driveline and chassis is easy with the choice of five drive modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport + and ‘Individual’ that can be toggled through on the fly, via a switch on the console. Each mode has its own unique engine mapping, gear shifting speed, steering wheel weight, suspension cushioning and feel. As the name suggests ‘Eco’ was the most efficient (but the least engaging) and Sport + easily the most fun. However, for most situations I couldn’t go past the default, ‘Comfort’ setting.
Like the C250 BlueTEC I drove earlier in the year, the over ten grand cheaper C200 proved to be equally impressive. The electric power steering is accurate and fluidic in its movement. Once again, the ride quality leaves me in awe. The pedals have a silky progressive feel to them and cornering is assuring, balanced and predictable with loads of gently controlled feedback. I couldn’t ask for much more.
Remember this is the entry model of the Mercedes C-class range, yet you get everything I’ve detailed so far plus selective suspension damping, dual zone climate control, auto on LED headlamps and tail lamps, daytime running lights, cruise control with speed limiter, speed sensitive steering, auto start/stop, reversing camera, five speaker Harmon Kardon audio, folding mirrors, rain sensing wipers…. the list goes on and on and on.
Option packs are available and the test car was equipped with the $3,454 Vision Pack comprising a panoramic sunroof, adaptive high beam and cornering lights and heads-up display.
The C-class, like all Mercedes product is at the sharp of pioneering safety technology and has a five-star ANCAP safety rating. It features nine airbags, blind spot assist, brake assist, acceleration anti-skid and stability control, collision prevention assist and run flat safety tyres.
Eye-catching, comfortable, quiet and quick, for many the C200 represents their entrée into the Mercedes-Benz brand and I am confident it will not disappoint.