What is it?
The petrol-powered version of Mercedes-Benz’s newly updated C-class is a little more than just a refreshed face. The biggest change is the introduction of a new 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine that also gets Merc’s latest mild-hybrid system in the form of the EQ boost function. Essentially, it consists of a 48V battery for energy storage and a motor/generator to recuperate and provide electric assist. Other cosmetic updates are similar to the ones seen on the facelifted diesel version that came out in 2018.
What’s it like inside?
Step inside and the changes are rather subtle. The most prominent ones are the new steering and a larger infotainment screen. On the steering, you now get Mercs latest ‘metallic’ switchgear for the steering mounted buttons and trackpads on each side to navigate the infotainment screens. As is the case on many hybrids, the new EQ function is seen on the instrument cluster and shows when the battery is being charged and used. The now bigger screen, mounted in the centre, has a higher resolution than before and features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The COMAND system has also been refreshed and now gets a slightly updated interface. While the rest of the interior is similar to the outgoing version – with a panoramic sunroof and dual-tone dashboard with a blend of wood and aluminium – the update adds in ambient lighting that makes the car feel even more plush and expensive.
At the rear, you get AC vents, manual sunblinds for the windows and an automatic blind for the rear windshield. The seats up front are broad and comfy and in the rear you get good legroom and headroom with a comfy, reclined backrest. The rear bench, however, is a bit too short on underthigh support. Another point to note is that there is no spare tyre, as the 48V battery sits under the floor of the boot.
What’s it like to drive?
Powered by a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine, the new C200 makes 184hp, which is the same amount of power as the earlier engine, plus a 10kW (14hp) boost . Performance, as a result is strong, and 0-100kph takes 8.35sec. What’s even more impressive is Merc’s 9-speed automatic that seamlessly changes gears. You also get drive modes to alter performance, with Sport+ being the most responsive and Eco mode being the most relaxed.
What’s new is the EQ boost system that includes a 48V battery to help run the electricals during longer start/stop times at signals where the engine is shut down temporarily; it also assists the car to move at crawling speeds. Now while these functions aren’t something you would notice, the boost it delivers is hard to miss. On hard acceleration and kickdown, the alternator acts as an electric motor and gives an extra 10kW (14hp) of boost. This is done mainly to eliminate turbo-lag and help with the power delivery in the lower-half of the rev range. You feel the strong punch on acceleration, after which the turbo takes over and delivers top-end performance. What makes using this performance all the more enjoyable is the steering, which can also be configured for weight and offers good feedback too. The C-class also offers good body control, high levels of grip in corners and it feels nicely balanced too. So despite being a Hybrid, it is quite enjoyable to drive.
Coming to the ride, it is similar to the outgoing version and can take on bad roads well. You will, however, feel a hint of firmness over sharper bumps and potholes. That said, it is far from uncomfortable and you could easily do long hours behind the wheel.
Should I buy one?
The C200 is available in a single variant dubbed ‘Progressive’ and at Rs 43.46 lakh (ex-showroom, India) it is Rs 1.59 lakh cheaper than its direct rival, the Audi A4. In terms of equipment, the Audi has the bigger list, although not by much. The C-class’ strength, however, lies in its strong performance, sorted driving dynamics and improved levels of fuel economy. So as far as hybrid luxury cars go, this is one of the best.
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