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A new executive luxury sedan benchmark?

S Muralidhar | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on December 04, 2014

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Mercedes-Benz is celebrating its 20th anniversary in India and does it in style by advancing the entry of the new C-Class

From its portfolio globally, for Mercedes-Benz, the S-Class sets the leadership benchmark in its segment. But, in India it is the C-Class executive sedan which contributes significantly to volumes.

Mercedes has revamped its model line-up, launched new models and altered its design language from both ends of the price range from the MFA architecture models like the A and B Class to the flagship S-Class.

Sandwiched in the middle, the C-Class finally got its makeover session earlier this year. The result was the new fourth generation C-Class launched for the model year 2014 worldwide.

The new C is the most significant introduction for Mercedes in India this year. It is the model that has the potential to really again turn the attention of buyers here towards the three-pointed star, just like it has helped drive up volumes in all the key markets worldwide.

Design

The new C-Class' design is quite a departure from its predecessor. Mildly coupe like, its longer bonnet and stubbier boot elements give it a 'fast' profile even when it is standing still. This profile and the very S-Class-like headlamps and tail-lamps, with their LED tubes, have lead to the inevitable comparisons with the flagship model. The international motoring press, immediately after its unveil, called it the baby S-Class.

The new C's design is unmistakably Mercedes, but it also has a character of its own. That side profile elevates the impact of the long wheelbase (longest in the segment). But when the car is viewed straight on from the front or the rear, it is the width of the car that has the most visual impact. The flared out wheel arches and the lower roofline further add to the new C-Class' wide stance.

The adaptive LED headlamps and the new grille are striking features at the front, while the stubbier design of the rear still doesn't take away from the rear’s striking visual elements, the tail-lamps and the twin-exhaust chrome-trim, similar to the one found in the new E-Class. Thanks to the new C's aerodynamic profile, the co-efficient of drag is a low 0.27.

Cabin

One of the most instantly like-able part of this fourth generation C-Class is its cabin. The quality of materials used, the fit and finish and the array of trim options available is a pleasing change compared to the previous generation.

The knobs are chunky, feel sturdy when used and seem meticulously crafted just like many of the other parts such as the volume control scroll wheel and the drilled metal cover panels for the Burmeister speakers. The dashboard is crowned by what is now a familiar Merc feature - the 8.4-inch infotainment screen that you may recall is also available in the A-Class, and the new B-Class. You will also recall the circular turbine-style aircon vents, but there are many new features in the new C's dashboard that adds to its appeal.

The best part of the new cabin is the way the right knobs and controls fall into your hands, placed just where you will need them and with the right amount of tactile feel and response. Also it is great to see that Merc has chosen to retain most of the features and tech in the new C for the India trim too, except for the ones which local regulations don't allow such as the ones that use radar tech.

The rear seat gets its own dual aircon vents, an assured hit with many Indian buyers. The central transmission tunnel is, however, tall and that is going to make it a bit uncomfortable for an adult to be seated in the middle of the rear bench. But rear legroom has improved thanks to the car's increased width and longer wheelbase. Leather-clad 'cobra-look' front seats are awesome.

The India-spec new C has a lot of standard equipment. The Avantgarde trim which will be the one initially available has a panoramic sunroof, the Comand infotainment system with a centre console touchpad for touch-based inputs, and even a Garmin navigation system with 3D visualisation. Boosting the luxe-quotient are features like the ambient cabin lighting in three colours and the colourful digital display for the instrument cluster.

Performance

Merc is choosing to bring in the petrol C200 first and will introduce the diesel engine next year. The C in the pictures here are of the Avantgarde trim, fitted with the 2-litre, direct-injection 4-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine. The lighter engine combined with the stiffer and lighter chassis is said to be very efficient capable of delivering a claimed 14.74 kmpl of mileage.

The powertrain, which also features Merc's 7G-TRONIC PLUS transmission is said to have the highest power to weight ratio and is the quickest sprinter in the segment. The engine produces 135 kW of peak power at 5,500 rpm and a maximum torque of 300 Nm between a low 1,200 - 1,400 rpm. There is loads of torque available in the low and mid-rpm range, just the spot where most drivers will find themselves in - in both city and highway conditions. Acceleration is effortless and immediate making highways maneuvers quick and seem super easy.

There are five drive modes to chose from, effectively, including an individual setting for the engine, transmission and steering characteristics. The other preset modes are comfort, economy, sport and sport+. Just like the names suggest, the settings get more engaging as you move up to Sport+.

Strangely however, during our test drive, the annoying engine start/stop function stayed engaged even in Sport+ mode. As always choosing the gear using the paddles was the most sensible way of driving for us.

The C200 is currently being imported as a CBU, but that hasn't stopped Mercedes from tweaking the suspension settings and ride height of the car. The height has been raised and the suspension, predictably, has been made more pliant. It is still firmer than the outgoing model. But, the new C gets a lot of assistance from the stiffer and lighter chassis, which uses a lot of aluminium in its construction.

Bottomline

The 2015 C-Class is much more engaging to drive than the previous model. It is also plusher, loaded with tech goodies (like the attention assist functions and the adaptive highbeam assist) and more efficient than the previous generation. It is now offered with the almost the full complement of safety features that the S-Class is offered with.

At ₹40.9 lakhs ex-showroom Delhi, and compared to the competition in its segment, the new C is now great value and of course the new, much more appealing design and finish quality immensely increases the C200's position.

When the diesel arrives next year, the C-Class' package will be even tougher to beat.

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Published on December 04, 2014
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