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Mercedes-Benz C 230 Avantgarde (Old)

15th Sep 2009 7:00 am

The Merc is a great all-rounder


  • Make : Mercedes-Benz
  • Model : C-Class

The new C230 has slipped into our market almost unnoticed. Instantly recognisable due to its sporty Avantgarde grille with the large-sized star at the centre and the bigger wheels, this C-Class targets  younger, more enthusiastic owners who like to drive themselves. Yet, it’s got that air of Mercedes-Benz serenity.

Considerably bigger than the old C-class, this car runs on conventional MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link setup at the rear. But the real ace up Merc's sleeve is the trick dampers. They have the ability to alter the ride depending road conditions and driving style - stiff for hard driving and softer for the Sunday morning cruise. A  more direct steering rack and a 52.5/47.5 percent front/rear weight distribution shows that even Mercedes is keen to be associated with the word 'sporty'.

This Merc remains true to the European luxury car format with the longitudinal engine and rear-wheel-drive layout. And it goes without saying that it comes with the 'bad road suspension package' to handle Indian roads.

The Mercedes is the most comfortable car to be chauffeured around in. It rides superbly, the seats are very comfortable and relaxed and Merc has finally included some essential creature comforts like powered seats and seat memory.

The Merc has some cheap bits on its otherwise high quality interior. The central console has a lot of ordinary plastic, the grain of the dash doesn’t feel special and though the controls and knobs function perfectly, an over-riding sense of quality is missing.

The dash is a mix of some very high quality and some pedestrian bits. We loved the way the switches worked too. However, a few things like the air-con temperature knobs don't have the quality feel that benefits a Merc. Also, the display screen smartly swivels out of the dash.

Like all Mercs, the new C230 puts a layer of insulation between you and the road. The ride on its amplitude-dependent, automatically-adjusting shock absorbers is very comfortable. Silent as a tomb inside, it soaks up even expansion joints on this concrete road with complete nonchalance. But it’s not the most comfortable car to push on in when the conditions call for almost an amphibious assault, like we’re attempting.

The steering is disconcertingly light and distributes very little feel, and though the fundamental handling and dynamics are as good as any car here, nudging serious speeds in these conditions gets a bit nerve-wracking. The Merc enjoys a good thrash-about too and handling is benign and spot-on, the C-Class displaying almost perfect balance.

Mercedes-Benz C 230 Avantgarde (Old)
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