This is going to sound like some sort of gushing advertisement. But bear with me.
The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class would be right at home in the Garden of Eden. It is perfect.
I’ve borrowed the revamped 2022 model from the Mercedes-Benz Canberra dealership in Fyshwick for the weekend. This is because if you’re a well-heeled public servant who needs to salve the stress of work on the way home, you’re in one of these. And if you’re a public servant, chances are, you’re in Canberra.
I’m not sure I can call it the ‘base model’ but this is the ‘entry-level’ C200. It comes with the AMG Line package as standard, hence the beefier front and rear lips, gaping exhaust pipes, and 18-inch wheels, not to mention all the AMG references scattered around.
The C has been around since 1993 and has always been handsome, but not in an overt way. It swans into the party the same way James Bond does – subtle, suave and smooth. The new one only builds on this. Nothing jolts the eyes. You’re stirred, not shaken.
Sales manager Sean Cooper says this is important, but perhaps more so is the attention to detail inside.
“That’s where you spend most of your time, so Mercedes-Benz really takes the time to make sure it’s a relaxing and comfortable place to be.”
The sweeping surfaces, trimmed in either leather from an actual cow or deep gloss panels, are studded with few things save for a touchscreen, start button, and air-conditioning vents that look like spaceship afterburners. And that’s before it’s all lit up in ‘Malibu Sunset’ or a range of other ambient options.
Before we get too carried away, it also works.
For instance, the single-most annoying feature in modern cars is stop-start. The C200 has it, but the button to turn it off is located right underneath the start button. No searching for hours through the infotainment system or holding it down for three seconds – press it once and that’s it for the journey.
As for the touchscreen itself, the air-conditioning controls take up the bottom portion and never move. Everything is where you expect it to be and does what you expect it to do. Except maybe for the seat controls, which are on the doors. But I don’t need to explain how they work – just look at them.
Within moments, my phone is hooked up and I’m pulling out of the dealership.
There is a science to how thick a steering wheel should be and the German boffins have nailed it. It’s a joy to clasp. At the same time, the enormous tristar logo in its centre arouses feelings of nostalgia for the great Mercedes limousines of yore.
That’s not all either.
The new C-Class might be the same size as the original E-Class sedan at more than four-and-a-half metres long, but it still fits into the Merc range as ‘compact’ and behaves like it. You can spin the steering wheel at low speeds to get similar manoeuvrability to a shopping trolley, but once up to speed, it takes on a satisfying heft.
Under the bonnet is a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, sending 150 kW of power to the rear wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The level of refinement flows through here too. Normally, there’s some sort of jolt or burst of noise to let you know the mini explosions have started, but somehow, in the C200, the engine almost fades into action.
It might not be a sports car, but in this market, buyers expect some turn of speed too. Select ‘Sport Plus’ from the five drive modes on the screen and the C200 will do 0-100 km/h in 7.3 seconds. And after some exuberant action around corners, I can say it refuses to come unstuck – it just hunkers down and turns with barely a chirrup from the tyres. The rest of the time, it doesn’t so much drive as glide.
We’re nearing the end, but don’t expect some sort of slap-in-the-face denouement to this ‘advertisement’. The C200 starts at $78,900. That’s $12,000 more than the last one, but you also get about $10,000 worth of extra features.
Not bad for perfection.
I’m serious. Normally, with every car, there’s some sort of niggle. Something that either makes you desperately want to go to the factory with a crowbar or at least has you thinking, “Well, I would do that differently”. But after two days in the new C, I just couldn’t find it.
2022 Mercedes-Benz C200 (W206)
- $78,900 plus driveaway costs (includes AMG Line package)
- 6- to 8-month wait time
- 1.5-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol; 150 kW / 300 Nm
- 0-100 km/h in 7.3 seconds
- 6.9 litres per 100 km combined fuel usage
- 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
This car was provided for testing by Mercedes-Benz Canberra. Region has no commercial arrangement with Mercedes-Benz Canberra.