The biggest hurdle, literally, in taking the C-class to Mahabaleshwar lies at my gate on Malabar Hill. There’s a small bump to prevent rainwater from flowing down into the building premises and it doesn’t quite agree with the AMG Sport kit’s low side skirts. It takes some deft manoeuvring to avoid making expensive scraping sounds.
This year, I’m bringing in the new year at Mahabaleshwar with the family. I love taking the Mercedes-Benz C-class to my house there because it’s one of those cars that don’t demand too much of you when you need to just get somewhere, and yet it has some measure of driver involvement when you need some fun. It’s perfect for the mix of Mumbai’s bad roads, wide-open expressway and the twisties up Wai Ghat that lead to my weekend home.
Merc seems to have got the ride just right with this one. It is simply astounding and I’ll even stick my neck out and say it is better than the pre-facelift E350 CDI that shares garage space with the C-class.
There’s also something very old school about this car that appeals to me. The steering, for example, is still hydraulically assisted. The C’s rivals — the A4 and the 3-series — have moved on to electrically assisted systems, and so this car’s steering actually feels like the BMWs of old. Which, as anyone who loves to drive knows, is a good thing.
Anyway, the engine drones through early morning Mumbai and drones some more when you rev it, but settles down to a quiet hum on the expressway. I love the absolutely flat ride at high speed and the way the expressway’s bumps do nothing to shake the C250 CDI off its direction of travel.
Then there’s the twin sunroof — I know a sunroof is impractical in India, but I like leaving the inner shades open on an early morning like this, letting a lot of light into the cabin. I also like the C-class’s compact dimensions — it’s not a handful on the narrow Wai Ghat.
Like always, I make it to Mahabaleshwar in time for a late breakfast, feeling absolutely relaxed thanks to the car’s easy-going nature. Happy new year, everyone!
Price Rs 36.95 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)
Test economy 9.9kpl (overall)
Maintenance costs None