You don’t pick just any day when you have a quick and new car to try out. Any day means traffic jams, heat and zombie pedestrians always ready to jump onto oncoming traffic. Add rain and you’ve just hit the pause button. So a couple weeks ago, in the middle of a summer heatwave, I got the new Mercedes C250 and what do you know? It rains.
Heaven must have been smiling because the roads magically stayed empty-ish yet wet. Driving conditions don’t get more fun than this. The C Class was always the entry level Benz: compact, moderately equipped, safely designed. It wasn’t considered the cool thing if you were into cars or demanded the associated oohs and aahs related to automobile ownership. That all changed with the previous generation. They made it bigger, plusher and quicker. For 2015 the redesign focused on adding more cool. Boring Benz no more because that’d be the A Class.
What is in the styling gene pool?
The 2015 car takes on many styling cues from the top of the line S Class. Those are lines well worth replicating. The new C Class has visually softer, rounded yet more purposeful looking headlights. The upward, gaping grill gives it a sense of movement even when standing still. The profile offers a sweeping curve that rises toward the rear and ends in two small, jewel like tail lamps. I especially love those tail lights. Gone are the dumpy, wide, overly formal units from the previous generation.
Can it amaze technophiles?
But the bigger change is inside. Mercedes has always been pretty big on making ergonomic cockpits that focused on being functional. I think they threw out that rule book a little here and decided to infuse more style elements. It’s a tauter, cleaner package with far fewer visible buttons than before. The dash and surrounding areas are sweeping curves with a minimalist approach similar to high end music systems. It’s an exercise in elegance. You can control all options through a new touchpad or a toggle dial and more commonly used functions are placed strategically on the centre console or the steering wheel. We’ve survived for more than a hundred years without a touchpad control centre in cars but can’t deny it’s a cool touch. I prefer my buttons for the more important stuff like the performance setting, aircon and seat controls. Those are thankfully still just simple buttons and knobs.
Does it pamper?
We took the car out for a spin and when the photoshoot started, all watery hell broke loose. The cabin is a truly comfortable place to be inwhether it’s raining or burning outside. The ambient lighting with different colour and dimming levels allow you to adjust it to the right amount of cosiness. Rear doors have window blinds to keep out the outside world. The seats are spacious with the rear being wider and flatter so that three adults can comfortably sit side by side. Most owners will spend a massive portion of their time in the back seat. The dual zone climate control will make sure you are just as cool in the back as you are up front. But seriously, the one proper place to be in this car is in the driving seat.
So it has oomph?
Mind you, this is not a fully sport tuned car. That’d be the AMG version. This C250 is geared more toward comfort. Plush seats and a cosseting soundproofed interior mean it’s a place to relax. But then, what’s a modern car if it can’t do the fun stuff? The C250 has a 1991cc direct-injection turbocharged engine with a seven-speed auto delivering power to the rear wheels. 211hp and 258lb/ft of torque make for ample juice for everyday driving. The 7-speed automatic transmission works so well that it’s making me start to wonder that in some cases, autos might just be as much fun as a manual. That’s sacrilege coming from a person who is all about manuals.
The driving characteristics are controlled through the Agility settings. A flick of a switch let’s you choose between a comfy, eco-friendly ride or a snarly charge. Each setting changes engine response, steering weight and suspension firmness.
Comfort mode does just what the name suggests. It keeps acceleration response to a minimum to keep things moving smoothly. The ride is also cushy as the damping is softened. It practically floats over our corrugated obstacle course of a city road network. Sport mode makes it hunker down a bit and gives it a quicker response when you press the magic pedal. The Sport+ mode though makes the response get dialled up much further. It’s a big car but it feels light as the steering stiffens up, the suspension gets firmer and the acceleration jumps like a kicked puppy. You don’t want this mode on a regular basis unless you like rocketing out of corners and eating up the rear tyres a lot faster. The ride is still compliant even in this mode so the impression is, while the car feels and goes faster, it does not become an uncomfortable track machine.
Does it glide or crash?
We had the higher profile tyres on 17 inch rims which help soak up the bumps way better than the cooler looking bigger rims. For Dhaka, this is actually better if you want to avoid the slightly crashing ride on 19 inch AMG rims. I’ve experienced that in the last gen C Class and I prefer the higher tyres on this.
What other tricks does it have?
The seat are electrically adjustable. Safety features include the obligatory ABS, traction control and numerous airbags. It also has Attention Assist that detects drowsiness based on your driving habits and steering response over time and produces audible and visual warnings. One feature I love is that unlike a lot of other new cars, you still get to put the key into a slot and twist it to start. It’s a personal gripe but I hate completely keyless systems.
After a long time again, Mercedes has started designing cars that stand out from the crowd. It looks sleek and contemporary as something a young petrolhead would like. The styling cues taken from the bigger S Class only add to the allure of this smaller car. The ride is more on the comfortable side at all times which is a good thing because you always step out of it relaxed. It has all the safety features you’d expect of a modern car and then some. And it will smoke the tyres when you need it to. It’s quite possibly the most complete package combining svelte looks, a beautiful interior and understated performance.
The old C Class used to be the entry level Mercedes but there is nothing entry level about the refinement and standard goodies it now comes loaded with. The new C Class firmly has the competition in its sight with class-leading luxury and refinement. Worldwide it has become a big hit for being affordable luxury and it's biggest competitor will have to work pretty hard to match it.
2015 Mercedes Benz C250
Engine: 2.0L turbocharged MPFI DOHC 4 Cylinder (211 HP and 258lb/ft torque).
Transmission: 7 speed automatic.
Brakes: Ventilated discs front, solid discs rear, ABS, EBD, traction control.
Features: Auto Climate Control with Dual Temp Zones, Active Steering, Adaptive Damping Control, intelligent Cruise Control, power seats, touch screen infotainment system and a LOT more.
Price: C180 starts from 85 lakh taka. For inquiries, contact Rancon Motors Ltd (authorized dealer for Mercedes-Benz).
One thing I’d avoid though is the highly glossy piano black interior accents. While it looks great, it is a fingerprint magnet. The options list has semi-gloss wood grain that makes the interior just that much more cosy. Small gripe in an otherwise perfect sedan.