With so much attention focused on the new sledgehammer C55 range-topper, the changes made to cars at the more humble end of the C-class range risk going unnoticed.
In fact, the V8 crowns a facelifted line-up. Saloons, estates and Sport-Coupés receive some subtle exterior styling tweaks and, more importantly, a revised cabin to address criticism of the original car’s quality.
The semi-circular speedo makes way for pair of clearer, more conventional dials, while the centre-console switchgear now looks and feels better, although the ambience still isn’t quite up to Audi A4 standards. Spec levels receive a much-needed boost: air-con is standard across the range, as is Merc’s new scratch-resistant paint and even lowly Classic models come with wood trim, although it won’t be to all tastes.
What such skin-deep tweaks don’t reveal is a wider front track, improved manual gearchange and quicker steering; three small revisions that improve a car so competent that it outranked the class-leading BMW 3-series when the two first met here three years ago. But the important news under the bonnet of cooking models is a 7bhp power hike for the C220 CDI (now 150bhp), and a new supercharged 230K. Fitted with the same 1.8-litre blown multi-valve four used in the 143bhp 180K and 163bhp 200K, but coaxed into producing 192bhp, it propels the manual saloon to 60mph in 8.1sec and on to 149mph.