Brilliant New Engine Hiding in Plain Sight
THE C-CLASS is big business for Mercedes-Benz. Last year, it sold 415,000 globally, while making regular appearances in the top 10 UK best-sellers list. In its quest to best the Audi A4/A5 and BMW 3- and 4-series, Mercedes has played it safe with this mid-life refresh,
concentrating on tech and efficiency while keeping many of the fundamentals the same.
Mercedes says that 6500 components have been changed or improved, and that 80 per cent of the electronics architecture is all-new. It doesn't look that way: you get new headlamps, bumpers, driver-assistance tech, and an optional digital dash.
You can't help but feel that the importance of this update doesn't show on the outside.
The diesel range has been slimmed down, the C43 gets a little more power, and a new engine arrives for the entry-level C200. And here's where the real interest lies: it's a 1.5-litre fourcylinder petrol with a twin-scroll turbo and a mild-hybrid system known as EQ Boost. Based on a 48-volt electrical architecture, EQ Boost is a powerful integrated starter/generator (ISG) designed to boost torque and power.
It punches well for its size, with 182bhp and 207lb ft. Although it's the C-Class entry point, a maximum speed of 147mph and 0-62mph in 7.5sec are more than adequate. Claimed combined fuel consumption of 46.3mpg and 140g/km C02 (on WLTP measurements) are decent and suggest good real-world potential.
On the road, it's business as usual. The C-Class remains the choice for junior execs who want a more relaxed and hushed drive.
The engine is muted, and never feels short of power, with decent A-road pace and good reserves at motorway speeds.
A lack of engine refinement lets things down, as does its inert steering. But EQ Boost aids acceleration and seamlessly cuts the engine when you're coasting and don't need any extra propulsion. It's a clever little engine and gives Mercedes-Benz something interesting to offer all those in the process of ditching their diesels.
As an all-rounder, the C-Class was already near the top of the junior executive class. This facelift is a case of job done, bringing the C-Class at least level with the best. It's easy to live with, quiet and relaxed - and thanks to the arrival of the C200, has a petrol engine with near-diesel economy and punchy performance too, even if it can't quite boast perfect refinement. KEITH ADAMS