What is it?
The new Mercedes-Benz C-class is a huge improvement over its predecessor in many key areas and, crucially given the level of competition it will face, a more engaging car to drive than ever before.
As you can read in our drive of the C250 BlueTEC model, the carry over turbocharged 2.2-litre four-cylinder common rail diesel engine, traditionally the big seller here in the UK, spuriously lacks the outright refinement of its more keener executive class rivals.
As such, it comes as little surprise to find the German car maker enthusiastically extolling the virtues of initial turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder direct-injection petrol engine versions of the new C-class.
The C250 driven here is not planned for sale in the UK owing to poor sales of its direct predecessor, which ran a considerably older turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine with a less advanced injection system. However, Mercedes-Benz expects it will be the most popular of all of the new C-class models on a global basis.
What is it like?
Well up to the task. Power is up by just 4bhp on the old C250 at 208bhp, but there’s now an added 29lb ft of torque developed 800rpm lower in the rev range than before. Combined with a 25kg reduction in kerb weight, this endows the new seven-speed automatic-only C250 with the sort of standing-start performance to see off the BMW 320i automatic by a clear 1.0sec at a claimed 6.6sec.
From the outset, the new C-class’s petrol engine, essentially the same as that used by the A and B-class, CLA and GLA-class, but turned 90-degrees to provide it with a longitudinal mounting, feels competent to drive. It accelerates Mercedes-Benz’s classy new saloon with a smooth and willing nature while providing it with commendably hushed and muted qualities at a constant cruise on the motorway.
There is very little drama, and no real need to wring the engine to tap into the performance. Peak torque of 258lb is delivered across a wide range of revs, from just 1200 through to 4000rpm, giving the C250 the sort of in-gear flexibility to satisfy even the most ardent of diesel engine admirers.
A well chosen set of gearbox ratios combines with the new C-class’s sector-leading aerodynamics to provide it with combined consumption and CO2 emissions that also betters the figures of the latest 320i automatic, at 53.3mpg and 123g/km of CO2.
Our test car was fitted with the new optional air suspension. It endows the new Mercedes-Benz with a tremendously smooth and unflustered ride along with exceptional low levels of surface noise suppression and isolation of tyre roar – all of which provides it with an effortless character when driven at posted limits.
The steering, a newly developed electromechanical system, is superb, and with the wide range of driving modes dialled to sport the C250 proves engagingly agile with impressive levels of grip on optional 18-inch wheels and tyres.
Should I buy one?
Not so much a question should you buy one; more of a question of where you can buy one, as this model isn't planned for sale in the UK.
The stylish new cabin and added interior space also help to lift the everyday appeal of the mid-range Mercedes-Benz. However, there are elements here which are confusing to say the least. Despite adding a new touch pad function to its latest Comand infotainment system, the interface remains unnecessarily complex, offering five different ways to alter various menus on the C-class’s free-standing monitor when a simple touchscreen function would suffice.
It’s a small blot on the new C-class, but one which could add up over time to become a major issue, and also denies this new Mercedes a class-leading rating.
Price n/a; 0-62mph 6.6sec; Top speed 155mph limited; Economy combined 53.3mpg; CO2 123g/km; Kerb weight 1405kg; Engine 4 cys in-line, 1991cc, turbocharged petrol; Installation Front, longitudinal, red; Power 208bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 258lb ft at 1200rpm; Gearbox 7-spd automatic