What is it?
The much-improved Mercedes-Benz C-Class; this time in its fleet-friendly C 220 guise, and, for the first time, on UK roads. Like the C 250 already driven abroad, the model gets Mercedes’ 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, albeit with slightly less power and, correspondingly, slightly better economy.
The latter is improved even further by pairing the familiar BlueTec unit with its default six-speed manual gearbox - a distinctly unfamiliar feature to most British C-Class buyers, who opt heavily in favour of the seven-speed automatic. Changing ratios yourself means an average CO2 saving of 6g/km; which sees the pram-wheeled SE model sink to just 103g/km.
Even in the mid-spec Sport model we drove - a £1995 premium over the starter car which includes 17-inch wheels, lowered suspension, heated sports seats, LED headlights and Artico leather upholstery - it’s only 1g/km worse off and is still potentially good for 70.6mpg.
Along with the analogue transmission, our test car did without the new option of self-levelling Airmatic suspension, relying instead on steel springs and the redesigned multi-link front and back axle for its bump absorption. In fact, other than metallic paint, it came with no ticks at all, leaving it admirably close to Mercedes’ on-the-road price of £31,360.