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Mercedes C 250d review, test drive

7th Apr 2016 2:03 pm

The Mercedes-Benz C-class gets a more powerful diesel engine version with a nine-speed gearbox. Here’s what we thought about it.

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

What is it?

The version of the Mercedes-Benz C-class pictured here may look no different from the popular C 220d, but the C 250d badge on its boot actually says quite a lot about it. And that is that this is the more powerful diesel version of the C-class. Yes, it’s powered by the same 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel engine as the 220d, but thanks to the use of twin turbos here, the power and torque figures are a strong 204hp and 500Nm, respectively. The 220d, for reference, makes 170hp and 400Nm. The 250d is also the first in the C-class range  to use Merc’s latest 9G-Tronic nine-speed gearbox.

In terms of equipment, the C 250d sees the inclusion of adaptive lighting for its LED headlamps, the addition of ambient lighting for the cabin and an automatic park assist, over and above all that the C 220d Avantagarde comes with. In that sense, the C 250d is well equipped with luxury essentials such as LED lights, powered seats, a panoramic sunroof, paddle shifters, satellite navigation and a reverse camera. Also on the list are selectable drive modes that alter engine, gearbox and steering characteristics. Like all new Mercs, the C 250d too comes with MB Apps that allows you to browse the internet and tune into internet radio via the central screen; just wish the system was easier to feed commands into. Also, we are still no fans of the tablet-like screen for the infotainment system that seems stuck on to the centre console.

This apart, the C-class cabin still wows for the luxury it offers. Right from the grain of the wood to the power window switches, everything looks and feels expensive. The C-class really is far ahead of current rivals on this front. It’s safe to assume anyone opting for the C 250d will take to driving duties often, and this lot will really appreciate the comfort of the front seats. The seats are nice and supportive and you can extend the cushioning on the seat base too. On the flip side, the rear seat squab feels a touch short and headroom in the back isn’t exceptional either. There is, however, a good deal of legroom on offer. 

What is it like to drive?

If you thought the C 220d was lacking in power, you won’t be disappointed by the C 250d. You can immediately tell the engine is punchier here with noticeably more power just about everywhere in the rev range. The engine is responsive at low revs, has a strong mid-range and charges on quite effortlessly to 4,600rpm should you keep the throttle pinned to the floor. What undoubtedly helps performance is the nine-speed auto gearbox. The close ratios and quick shifts allow for brisk acceleration from any speed. Furthermore, the gearbox too is very responsive to tugs at the paddles and even lets you downshift aggressively. However, the gearbox won’t let you hold gear even in the sportiest (namely Sport +) of the drive modes. Enthusiasts might also rue the absence of launch control, something the BMW 320d comes with. 

The C 250d not only felt quick but also registered pretty impressive numbers in our performance tests; 0-100kph took all of 7.89 seconds while 20-80kph and 40-100kph were dismissed in 5.49 seconds and 6.44 seconds respectively. These times make the C 250d faster than the C 220d though the launch control equipped BMW 320d is quicker to the ton with a time of 7.25 seconds.

But the C 250d is not just about big speed and power. It is also a very relaxing car to drive, say on routine city commutes and on long highway cruises. The engine and gearbox adapt well to driving style and engine noise is well contained for the most part. In town, the light steering makes the C 250d easy to live with. 

But like the other mainstream C-class models, you will note the ride is slightly firm at low speeds and there’s also a fair amount of vertical movement when driving fast. It’s not uncomfortable in the least but isn't the benchmark in the segment either. Head to your favourite set of twisties and you’ll like how precise the C 250d’s steering feels. Handling on the whole is good but the C doesn’t feel as sharp or willing to change direction as a BMW 320d. We suspect handling would have been better with a grippier set of tyres. Our test car’s Bridgestone Turanzas let out a squeal at the slightest hint of spirited driving.

Should I buy one?

If you are a resident of Delhi, you can’t buy the C 250d, at least for the time being. The blanket ban on the sale of all cars with diesel engines over two litres means the C 250d isn’t eligible for sale in the national capital. For its part, Mercedes claims the C 250d’s emissions are below regulatory limits – 30 percent below the permissible limit for NOx and 60 percent below the permissible limit for particulate matter.

In markets where it is available, the C 250d makes for an interesting proposition. Its Rs 44.36 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai) price tag makes the C 250d about Rs 5 lakh costlier than the C 220d Avantgarde. But for the additional outlay, the C 250d does get a significantly more powerful engine and a sophisticated nine-speed gearbox, both of which contribute to provide a more involving driving experience. And that’s the thing. The C 250 d is an ideal pick for buyers who spend a good deal of time driving themselves. It adds a degree of performance that will make the money seem well spent. However, if it’s the back seat that you’ll be occupying for the most part, you’d do just as well with the cheaper C 220d.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Rs 46.40 lakh * on road price (New Delhi)

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