Slick, Smart Mercedes C200 a chip off the S block

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Mercedes’ fresh and exciting latest C200 AMG Line is clearly a chip off the old S-Class block. It gives entry exec buyers than their fair share to ponder with sharp E looks, S tech, comfort and style and impressive mild-hybrid efficiency and performance.

Minimalist design leaves this latest Benz face, a sharp if a bit Korean tail and bold shoulder line to do the talking in a subtly aggressive tone. Larger than before at 4,751 mm long, 1,820 mm wide and riding on a 25 mm longer 2,865 mm wheelbase, the new dimensions benefit rear passenger room most.


Clearly a chip off the S-Class block

You must step aboard to discover where this C200 makes its greatest gains. Plush materials are cobbled together in a business class finish to deliver a truly premium class cabin. Splendid finishes and gliding components take style to a new level in this class.

A large high-resolution LCD infotainment screen floating off the clean carbon wing style dash to split opinion. Some enjoy the big screen. Others question if it’s necessary and older drivers are overawed. The screen sits too low in the car, there are not enough buttons and its logic can confuse even the most computer literate of drivers.


Step aboard to relish greatest C200 gains

Control it by latest ‘Hey Mercedes’ MBUX voice, the touch screen, or use the left stalk of the steering wheel. The disappointing touch sensitive surfaces however proved a step backward from the brilliant old buttons we so raved about. The driver’s multi-mode digital dials are run by just as annoying pads the other steering stalk.

Discreet, Sporty and Classic display styles and three Navigation, Assistance and Service modes help make the C-Class yours. Driver and front passenger space is good front and rear. Four adults travel at ease in and a fifth passenger in the middle will be happy on a shorter drive. The 455 litre boot falls short of some rivals, but it’s practical enough for most needs.

Speaking of spec, there were one or two aspects common to too many far more base model cars that were conspicuous by their absence in this million buck sled. A mobile device charging pad, and power fore and aft on front seats that had the electric rest, for instance.


150 kW turbo defies 1500 capacity

The 150 kW 350 Nm turbo-petrol burbles to life courtesy of its 15 kW 200 Nm hybrid electric boost. Turning the rear axle via Merc’s 9G-Tronic ‘box, it defies its fifteen-hundred capacity. Snick it to drive, pull away and you’re rewarded with a splendid and smooth drive. Torquey and effortless, quiet and composed even under hard acceleration, its magic carpet like.

Our tester easily matched Merc’s 7.3-second 0-100 km/h claims and we readily beat the promised 5.2 l/100km. Five Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport+ and Individual modes include bring more choice. We fiddled a bit, but preferred softer Comfort for everyday driving. It’s a tad taut and a bit noisy on these low profile tyres, but that’s a trade-off for the ego.


C200 stars on quietness, comfort

Sport and Sport+ sharpen steering and throttle response through firmer suspension settings to noticeably improve dynamic performance. Not that it will trouble a 3 Series. The brakes lack feel and are a bit soft when you first tramp on them. That made us pump them for confidence. Steering could also be more communicative.

That said, the C stars on quietness and comfort and its still agile and fun to drive. A continuously adjustably damping sport suspension is an option if a more flamboyant driving is that important to you. Benz’ latest Driving Assistance Package can become a little overbearing, but you can park, override the lot easily enough and set off again untroubled.

Made right here in East London, this ‘Baby S’ Mercedes-Benz C200 punches well beyond its pay grade to deliver a massive South African success story. Better in many ways, yet maybe not quite as dynamic as a 320i it also has the A4, Giulia and the rest covered. None can after all quite match that undeniable Benz touch of class. – Michele Lupini

Images & data: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Mercedes-Benz C200 AMG Line
Engine: 150 kW 300 Nm 1.5-litre turbo petrol I4
Drive: 9-speed automatic RWD
0-60 km/h         3.05 sec
0-100 km/h:       7.19 sec
0-120 km/h:       9.51 sec
0-160 km/h:       18.88 sec
400m:             15.0 sec @ 118 km/h
80-120 km/h:      4.74 sec
120-160 km/h:     8.33 sec
VMax:             246 km/h
Fuel:             5.2 l/100 km
CO2:              154 g/km
Range:            970 km
Warranty/Service: 5y 100K/2y unl.
LIST PRICE:       R1,020M
RATED:            8
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