by: Mark Gallivan
Model: 2022 Mercedes Saloon C200d AMG Line
Price: from €56,425 (in Ireland) €63,330 as tested
Power: 1,993cc, four cylinder, 9G Tronic automatic, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 0-100km in 7.7seconds, 163bhp/380Nm, 230km/h top speed
Fuel consumption: 65mpg / 4.2 L/100km achieved, 337g/km CO2
Verdict: Vastly improved C-Class. Grabs the executive car crown for long-legged comfort. Economical, soothing to drive, mostly stellar cabin
Picture the scene. You’re making a name for yourself at work and scratching your chin at what new car buy yourself. A gormless crossover SUV is an option. So too is an impractical coupe. The thing is your CEO glides into work in a gleaming new Mercedes S-Class each morning. It may look old fashioned but you yearn for a slice of that vast luxury. You’re an ambitious person and have set your long term career goal on a heavyweight six-figure priced luxury saloon. Ideally, one that’s exactly like that enormous Mercedes S-Class, if you’re asking, because for you few cars intimidate and garnet respect in equal measure than a big S. There’s a problem though. Your own budget stretches to roughly half of that.
Roll forward the 2022 Mercedes C-Class saloon. Mercedes says it is engineered so well that it drives and cossets the driver just like miniature S-Class Saloon. Really? Surely Mercedes Benz’s PR desk has overreached itself with claims as extraordinary as that one? I’ve just completed a full week testing the new fifth generation C-Class and if the BMW’s – quite brilliant – 3 Series is high on your next new car pick list you may want to read this review to the very end.
My test car was the C-Class 200d (that’s the diesel with 48-volt mild hybrid) with a four-cylinder engine and 9-speed automatic gearbox producing a respectful 163bhp and 380Nm of torque from the rear wheels. Astonishingly, one way or another, this saloon achieved 65 miles per gallon of diesel on one trip. That’s a great result. What also caught my eye when I collected the car at the start of the week was the indicated range of over 1,200 km/777 miles. Try finding a fully-electric rival that delivers a similar range for roughly the same price. And that can replenish itself to the brim in literally few minutes. Don’t bother looking. It’s not out there.
This is existential proof that diesel cars are by far a long way from being a dinosaur for buyers forced to travel big miles with zero time to hang around for a battery to charge up. Any car that can travel over 1,200km and have local access to fuel shows how the nonsense of current battery electric cars and why they are hilariously unsuited option for business folk with tight schedules to meet. Put simply, ambitious people with things to do and deliver have no time to sit in an out of the way electric charging bay while waiting for their fully electric car to charge up. The diesel variant in my territory is offered in a choice of the C 200d, C 220d and C 300d – the power gap stretches from 170bhp right up to 258bhp.
Objectively the exterior redesign hints at the design mantra of a scaled down S-Class. Though climb into the cabin and that’s where the S-Class inspired elements are best found. It’s a modern piece of cabin architecture that looks far more modern than the Audi A4’s cabin or ergonomically sound BMW 3 Series. None of these current compact executive saloons come anywhere close to matching the new C-Class’s showroom floor appeal.
Gone is the previous C-Class’s conservative cabin and replaced by a large central portrait touchscreen with the Mercedes MBUX software that would sit perfectly in the more expensive E-Class Saloon. A corresponding smaller driver’s digital screen is positioned behind a very chunky new steering wheel. The range of menus and clarity of functions had me sold. It was a class leading experience. My only gripe was not having physical buttons for separate heater controls. It forces the driver to be distracted from the importance of driving safely.
It’s only fair to report that some of the plastics fitted around the C-Class cabin’s door surround that house the seatbelt and door bins and other places are manufactured from nasty plastics that feel cheap. Just because they are hidden out of sight it shouldn’t mean Mercedes should be doing this because they feel they can get away with it. A case in point – the 2022 Audi A4’s cabin may look dated but the quality is mainly excellent throughout. If Audi can manage it so too should a premier brand like Mercedes.
The C-Class feels marginally more spacious inside than the BMW’s cabin despite its 2,840mm wheelbase losing out to the BMW’s marginally longer dimensions of 2,851mm. Yet that’s only an illusion as both the BMW and Audi rival offer more actual passenger space. The Mercedes tips the scales at 165kg lighter than the 3 Series and that is felt through the steering deftness. It equates to the weight two adults sitting in the car – and that makes a difference. If you insist on a thrilling drive, the BMW is the master in a pool of three.
Big praise should be given to how smooth and quiet the C-Class’s 2.0 litre diesel engine fared and never felt particularly strained when bursts of acceleration were needed. If you drive big miles day in and day out it’s Mercedes that separates you best from the stress better than the BMW or Audi.
Boot space is very important in a compact executive saloon. The C-Class has a decent 445 litres – yet that’s 25 litres less than the 3 Series and Audi A4.
Overall the new Mercedes C-Class is a class leader for comfort, technical cabin presentation and long distance diesel capability. The C-Class is never going to be a BMW 3 Series sporting rival but neither is it engineered to be. If you’re a buyer looking for the best in prestigious compact executive motoring that siphons the grimness from long distance driving make sure you consider the Mercedes C-Class. It will reward you far more than any of the compromised crossover SUV on sale today.
Mercedes, make no mistake, hits the bullseye here. This is the finest C-Class generation to date. What a shame the smallest of the cabin’s fittings have been subjected to some depressing cost cutting. Otherwise, the new 2022 C-Class Saloon is a top choice.