We love the solidity the old Mercs offered and the Mercedes-Benz C-class is a classic example of how that solidity is re-emerging. The C 250 CDI has just arrived in the Autocar India garage and I’ve been lucky to get my hands on it first. To truly appreciate everything the C 250 CDI’s German engineering stands for, you have to be on a road like the Mumbai-Pune expressway. At three-digit speeds, comfortably ensconced in the beautifully built cabin, you feel everything is right in your world.
It’s a feeling I’ve been getting a lot lately. Thrice actually, all on trips to Pune or Lonavala. This luxury saloon’s ability to cruise at high speeds all day long, its tank-like build quality and its rock-steady high-speed manners are a revelation after spending time in lesser cars. On high-speed roads, use the shift paddles to keep yourself in the engine’s strong mid-range, rev it to the redline to squeeze every horse for all its worth and you’ll soon forget that this is only a 2.2-litre diesel. Just be prepared for a bit of gruffness from the motor when you do.
Our car has the AMG pack, which includes adjustable dampers. Hit the Sport button and its whole character changes. The suspension feels firmer, the body movements tighter and the car steers and drives with much more precision. It’s now more fun around corners and, with 201bhp and 51kgm of twist on hand, the performance is pretty impressive too.
The Merc is also quite amazing in day-to-day driving. The gearbox and engine are well mated and thecar feels effortless and unstressed from behind the wheel, even with a light foot on the throttle. It can pull away from traffic lights with a lot of energy using just half throttle, and the strong surge from the torquey motor keeps you smiling all day.
Along with the sport dampers, the car is also lowered, and it tends to scrape its stylish AMG side skirts even on medium-sized speed breakers. The ride at low speed is not perfecteither – the suspension tends to thud over sharp bumps and there is quite a bit of vertical motion. The low-profile tyres sitting on the large, 17-inch rims are also a contributing factor to the underlying stiffness of the car. But the compact dimensions of the Merc mean it’s easy to punt around in the dense Mumbai traffic and the steering is direct and light enough.
But it’s over a long drive that you really come to appreciate this Merc’s finer points. Like the soft
amber glow in the cabin. It’s very soothing when you find yourself on a deserted highway at night.
The one thing I would have liked to have is an electronic parking brake; the C-class still comes with a foot-operated manual one. Since the car has arrived only recently, we haven’t had the chance to get a proper fuel economy figure yet. However, initial fuel gauge indications point at a manageable appetite.
So, at the moment, it’s mostly upsides, with very few and negligible downsides and, we’re guessing, a whole lot more appreciation in the future. What more can you ask of a long-termer?
Price Rs 36.95 lakh(on-road, Mumbai)
Test economy NA
Maintenance costs None