Mercedes-Benz says the facelifted C-Class range, of which the C 200 saloon tested here is the entry-level model, features 6500 new or updated components, including a fair bit of trickle-down technology from its larger E-Class and S-Class siblings.
Moving beyond largely cosmetic exterior changes, the most immediately obvious upgrade is a heavily redesigned dashboard that incorporates a fully digital two-screen display system for the vehicle’s key instruments and infotainment system.
But perhaps the most remarkable development comes under the bonnet. Here, the previous C 200’s quite conventional 2.0-litre turbocharged engine is replaced by the combination of a turbocharged 1.5-litre unit and 48-volt electric motor.
With this change, dubbed EQ Boost by Mercedes, the entry-level C-Class has become a hybrid, albeit at the mild end of the spectrum.
What’s it like to look at?
What’s it like to look at?
With new headlights (LEDs even at entry level), redesigned alloy wheels and re-sculptured bumpers front and rear, the new-look C 200 saloon is cleverly refreshed, without departing too far from a successful original recipe for elegant good looks that helped define the current W205 model when it first appeared in 2014.
What’s it like inside?
Roomy by class standards, the cabin continues to combine a compact luxury ambience with great adjustability and space in the seating position up front.
Though not quite as clever as the double-width display and MBUX infotainment system of the latest A-Class, the new instrument cluster still lifts the C-Class cabin connectivity convincingly into the modern age.
Access to the rear is a little tight, but once aboard comfort is fine, and a 40:20:40 split rear seat back gives flexible access and load extension options to the 455-litre boot behind.
What comes as standard?
Items covered by the $73,900 price tag include pushbutton start, customisable 64-colour interior ambient lighting, dual-zone climate control, artificial leather trim, and smartphone mirroring for Apple and Android devices.
The safety muster includes automated emergency braking, attention assist, blind spot monitoring, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, and nine airbags.
The test car featured metallic grey paint as an extra-cost feature, along with a seat comfort package that provides memory functions, front-seat heating, and additional power adjustment functions.
What’s it like to drive?
The mild hybrid system delivers the same power as (135kW) and slightly less torque (280Nm versus 300Nm) than the old 2.0-litre engine. However, the bare figures mask the cleverness of the EQ Boost system,which uses the electric motor’s 10kW and 160Nm to provide bottom-end punch that a turbo petrol on its own simply can’t deliver.
Helped also by the abilities of the vehicle’s 9-speed automatic transmission, EQ Boost is so seamless in everyday operation that it’s hard to pick as a hybrid.
Acceleration, both off the mark and when overtaking, is brisk. The combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 6.4L/100km isboth appreciably better than that of the previous C200 and genuinely achievable with careful driving.
Mechanical refinement, especially at round-town speeds, is exceptional, and with adaptive damping as standard, excellent ride quality can be called up at the push of button too. Sport or sport plus mode sharpens the C200’s responses and agility to provide plenty of fun, though the test car always felt more at home travelling at a measured pace.
What’s the verdict?
Digital display aside, this facelift of the C-Class comes across as a light one at first glance. But with EQ Boost, the C 200 is transformed from being, quite simply, the entry level model in the range, to a variant with a clear point of difference that goes well beyond price.
- by David Thomson