2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Facelift Reviewsby Opinion Express June 22, 2018 0 comments
All-new engines and a few tech upgrades help keep the C-class at the cutting edge of its segment. The new model has little more of everything which is making it better than the sum of its parts.
Driving the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class down the lovely roads of the Mosel Valley in western Germany, you get a sense that this car is ever so slightly improved over its earlier iteration. To be sure, initially I was driving the updated C43 AMG Cabriolet, but even that car is slightly better. However, before we head into the nitty-gritty of the driving dynamics and performance, a bit about the interiors and exteriors of the updated car.
From the outside, the changes are a bit more subtle, depending on the range you buy the car in. There is a new multi-faceted LED cluster option, but the “Ultra Beam” option also remains, which can throw a beam of light up to 650 metres, the maximum permissible limit in most countries. Up close and personal, you can see the amount of engineering that has gone into the headlights, it is quite remarkable to experience that. The tail light cluster also gets a refresh, with a new “C” design. While in many countries, the basic option car is available with standard halogen headlights, that is unlikely to come to India.
The other noticeable change are some nicer wheel options. The aluminium and piano-black 18-inch wheels are very smart, but again, specific options such as wheels and lights are configured for the local market, so it remains to be seen how Mercedes-Benz India configures the car. The AMG C43 across its body shapes gets twin double-barrel exhausts and lovely 20-inch matt-finished wheels as well as a unique grill.
In the inside, the change is very obvious when you get behind the wheel. The C-Class also acquires the same multi-function steering wheel that the S-Class and E-Class have. A 12-inch digital display, which can be configured in a multitude of ways, but these displays are differently styled on regular cars and on the AMG range.
The C-Class variants I drove in Europe, which were the C200, C300 and C43, all came with fully-featured radar equipped adaptive cruise control which adjusts speeds according to the vehicles in front of you and lane-assist. This allowed me to drive the cars completely with a couple of fingers on my left hand just to adjust speed on the cruise control and distance the car should maintain from the car on front. The lane assist kept the car inside the lane and in situations where there was no lane markings, the system sends either an aural warning that it has disengaged or follows the car in front in case there is one to follow. Mercedes-Benz India is unsure whether these features will come on the India spec C-Class because while S-Class has them the E-Class does not and of course, that is an issue. Anyway, this deserves a column in itself because these features will become standard even in more affordable cars within a few years.
Mercedes has made modifications to the engine and electrical system; they have for example in the petrol engine OM654 moved to steel pistons from aluminium in the earlier engines. While that seems counterintuitive, the way the pistons have been shaped and through advanced design, they make the car more efficient. The 48-volt lithium-ion battery system too provides up to 14hp more power in the car, not to the top-end but it fills in the gaps at the bottom and mid-range of the engine as well as when you shift gears. Sure, on the AMG you can clearly make out the engine note and gear changes, they are completely seamless. If you were not looking at the instrument cluster or changing gears with the paddle shifters, you would have no clue you have changed gears.
The new petrol engine is available in 1.5 and 2.0 litre variants, the C200 has the smaller engine with an output of 184 horsepower. The C300, which is unlikely to come to India, has 258 horsepower and the C43 AMG, which as a twin-turbo V6 has 390 horsepower, 23 more than earlier. There will also be a C220d and C300d with diesel power with 194 horsepower and 245 horsepower respectively. Unfortunately I didn’t get my hands on a diesel properly but the interior trims will be similar to the cars we drove. The C43 AMG on the other hand will likely come in different body styles, not just the current sedan but also likely a coupe and a Cabriolet with all featuring Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive system.
Personally, while the C43 AMG was a load of fun with its manic acceleration (you can somehow feel that extra 23 horsepower) and beautiful handling, it isn’t what one would call playful even in ‘Sport+’ mode as I found out on the twisty German B-roads. This is not a criticism of the car, it is just that the car is not as manic as previous generation Mercs. Sure you can throw it into a corner but it still has insane amounts of grip and sort of chides you for being an idiot. That is the essence of the car, it is idiot proof. And fast. Very fast and gets fast very quickly. And the best part of driving in Germany are those unrestricted Autobahns without an speed limits. One moved from an area of roadworks with a limit of 50 to an unrestricted stretch. And these aren’t eight-lane mega-highways these are just four-lane dual-carriageways. This is because people on their roads are not morons like we have here who destroy public property and park in the middle of highways.
You can drive fast in Germany because they follow rules and are not selfish people. And I went fast, maxxing the car out at its restricted top-spec of 250 kmph. The car is restricted since above that speed German law mandates much bigger and more expensive brakes but cars like the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT can drive at top-speed perfectly legally in Germany. And then there was the fact I chose the Cabriolet, but that was more because the weather demanded that we put the roof down. Just note that if you floor a Cabriolet with the roof down it is horribly loud. Also please respect speed limits no matter where you are.
That said, I really enjoyed the C300, it isn’t bonkers because it doesn’t have the aerodynamic modifications and the massive turbochargers of the AMG but it is pleasant to drive, with more than enough power not just to deal with the Autobahns but also the smaller roads. It is far softer in terms of suspension, thatnks to its air suspension, feels more luxurious inside with lovely leather seats and inserts.
The C-Class is a major product for Mercedes-Benz India, and the refresh will easily make it the leader of the pack. Pricing is unlikely to change from the current model and this car should go on sale within the next couple of months.
Writer: Kushan Mitra
Courtesy: The Pioneer