The Mercedes C 200 isn’t slow by any means and does get going. I’m certain though, that the C 220d will be a better drive for enthusiasts, apart from the much more powerful C 300d of course.
Driving the 1.5L Turbo Petrol AT
On this drive, we drove the C 200 petrol. Though we will certainly have a follow up post for the C 300d, which will be the enthusiasts’ choice, the C 200 is what we managed to get our hands on.
This C 200 has a 1.5L engine, which generates 201 BHP and 300 Nm. It comes with a 48v mild hybrid system. The mild hybrid part of this is an integrated starter generator that sits between the engine and the transmission and takes over the role of the alternator and starter. It can also provide a power / torque boost. When quick acceleration is required, the electric motor helps by providing up to 20 BHP and 200 Nm of torque. It also helps with energy generation when it’s not giving any output in terms of power / torque. This also functions as the starter and I have to say, the start-up is super smooth and non-intrusive. This is possibly one of the few cars in which I didn’t feel the need to turn off the idling start stop simply due to the smoothness of it all. All 3 engine options in the W206 C-Class come with this system.
The W205 facelift had the same 1.5L engine with the EQ boost feature and ISG, but I think, it may have been discontinued after a while, though I’m not really sure why. That was slightly lower on power at the time though.
Sitting in the driver’s seat, it all felt a little familiar. Firstly, because of the new vertical screen and the instrument cluster, which was reminding me of the S-Class we drove a few months ago. Secondly, the driving position and overall dimensions / visibility reminded me of the W205 C-Class. It feels more like an evolution than a revolution.
This drive was in Mussoorie, which meant a lot of gradient changes and lots of twisties. There were enough bad patches of road thrown in too, to give us a realistic judgement of how the C would behave in most conditions.
Pressing the engine start / stop button felt like it did nothing, until I noticed the RPMs were a shade below 1,000 and the engine was idling. There was no starter noise or even slight vibrations upon starting.
Getting a move on, one wouldn’t immediately notice or feel that the engine is downsized. The EQ boost (additional power / torque provided by the ISG) helps at low rpms and low speeds in hiding some amount of turbo lag and adding a bit of pep. So the vehicle responds like it has a 2L engine. While driving around with part throttle, the drive train is silent and refined and one will have to strain oneself to hear any engine noise at all. The car moves in a relaxed manner, never really lacking in power or torque. However, the moment you ask for a little more, you can hear the 1.5L engine straining a bit, even though the C-Class does move reasonably quickly. This strained noise probably wouldn’t have been present in a 2L engine. It is one thing which is a bit off putting for me being an enthusiastic driver. Though apart from the perceived strain due to the noise, the C 200 isn’t slow by any means and does get going. I’m certain though, that the C 220d will be a better drive for enthusiasts, apart from the much more powerful C 300d of course.
The 9G-Tronic gearbox, which is now a Mercedes staple, does the job well and without being intrusive at all. Shifts are smooth, and apart from taking maybe a tad longer than I would have liked for kickdown, it doesn’t seem confused and is usually in the correct gear that one would need. In this plain Jane C 200, it probably isn’t calibrated for the enthusiast and it shows. Personally, I prefer the ZF8 of the BMWs. The 9G-Tronic gearbox now also has a coast function, where it completely disconnects from the engine (due to the ISG being in the middle), and the engine is actually switched off. One can see the engine coming back on as the speed reduces or once acceleration is requested. One aspect which was a bit disappointing was the response of the paddles, which I found slow.
With the 17″ wheels and the tyre pressures a bit high (hovering around 39 psi), the ride quality was surprisingly well damped. While the W204 C-Class was very supple and settled, the W205 was a bit clunky when it came to the ride. Since the W205, the C classes have had MOE tyres (Mercedes term for runflats) and this W206, in spite of having them, didn’t produce any clunks or thuds while tackling even larger bumps, which was very nice. In this sense, it does feel like a baby S-Class simply because of the silent way in which the suspension works and the overall mature feeling of the ride.
I have to mention, the stability over bad roads which is excellent and the C-Class just ate them up even when we went over them at a slightly higher speeds than we should have. It was unfazed. Once the speed picks up, the ride flattens out even more and high speed stability is good too. What surprised me was that when we pushed it a bit, the chassis felt like it wanted more, which was unlike the previous C-Class cars I have driven. In spite of the underwhelming drive train, pushing the W206 around the twisties was fun with the steering relaying a good amount of feedback and body roll being negligible. It’s no BMW when it comes to handling, but let’s just say that Mercedes is getting close!
Overall, I’ll have to say the C-Class has matured and it feels like an excellent all-rounder in terms of ride, handling and even the drive (though the 200 wouldn’t be my choice of drivetrain).
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