Matt Hubbard reviews the Mercedes Benz C 250 BlueTEC AMG Line saloon
The Mercedes C Class has been around since 1993 (although you could argue the W201 190 on sale from 1982 to 1993 was the first C Class) and is typically replaced every seven years.
The W204 was sold from 2007 to 2014 and has just been replaced with this, the W205. It's an important car for Mercedes. Despite the plethora of new models with varying body shapes the small saloon represents Mercedes Benz to the everyman.
It's the Merc that middle managers can afford, and they must bypass the Audi A4 and almighty BMW 3-series to buy one.
So, has Mercedes got it right with the W205?
Yes, in every area.
A modern Mercedes is not a boxy car any more. The corporate grille, wide and dominating, has the 3-pointed star embedded in it, and within the star's circle is the plastic housing of the optional Distronic adaptive cruise control.
Under the grille is an F1 inspired diffuser with deep air inlets below lights that curve round and into the wings. The flanks are a riot of curves and creases which define the overall shape of the car. A steeply raked windscreen and rear window sit either side of a roof that contains hardly a straight line.
All this tapers to the pug-nosed boot which is now similar in appearance to that of the CLA and S-Class. Yet despite its stubbiness the boot is wide and deep by virtue of the shallow rake of the rear window.
However curvy the C-Class has become you could take away all the design flim-flam and you'd be left with a standard 3-box saloon, which is good because this translates into a spacious and practical interior.
Current Mercedes' exteriors don't really do it for me. They're not ugly, they're not handsome. They're wide of the mark by just a small amount as far as I'm concerned. Beauty being in the eye of the beholder, though, means plenty of people will like it.
The interior is spot on. Not many years ago you'd struggle to fit adults into the back seats of a C-Class (or 3-series for that matter). Not any more. There's plenty of room for five people.
The C-Class's interior design says 'Mercedes Benz' much more than its exterior does. Sensible, ergonomic, classy and with plenty of toys.
For £35k the C 250 AMG Line's interior is astonishingly accomplished and full of the sort of kit you'd previously only find in an S-Class.
In fact it feels like a mini S-Class. The quality of design, of fit and finish of the materials, of overall sheer accomplishment of the package is staggeringly good for a car that starts at £27k.
Happily in the test car some of the Artico (fake leather) had been upgraded to real leather but even the plastic atop the door had a stitch woven into it to make it look better than it is.
The controls have been simplified over the previous model so that many buttons and switches are now incorporated in the revised (and much better) COMAND system which is controlled by a few buttons and an S-Class style knurled knob (no sniggering).
Standard kit includes LED rear lights, park assist, heated and rain sensing windscreen washers, SatNav, LED headlamps, drilled brake discs, reversing camera, sports seats (comfy and supportive at the sides but gave me back ache due to strangely positioned lumbar support), aluminium pedals, collision prevention, cruise control, DAB radio, Bluetooth phone integration, USB ports, 7-speed automatic gearbox and 18 inch AMG alloys.
All of the tech is easy to use without having to resort to reading the manual.
The one thing I'd grumble about is the heads-up display which shows the speed limit, current speed and simplified satnav directions on the windscreen - in the driver's line of sight. If you sit low in the car you can only see the top half of it, which is distracting.
Happily the 2.1 litre turbo-diesel engine sounds much better than in the old model, having lost the clattering tractor noises that was capable of making. It's refined and smooth.
The engine has 204bhp and 500Nm/369lb ft of torque and feels pretty powerful all through the rev range. 0-62 takes 6.6 seconds. The car does feel fast and the gearbox does a great job of being in whatever gear you'd have selected were it a manual. It's capable of 65mpg and returns 113g/km of CO2.
You can select from a variety of dynamic settings from Comfort to Sport+. These change the throttle response, gear ratios and steering feedback. It doesn't feel particularly lethargic in comfort (which the old C-Class did).
Steering is much better than in the old C-Class too with a decent crispness of response and much better feedback. The ride is fine on all sorts of surfaces, although it can bounce around a little on really poor roads.
This generation C-Class is a vast improvement over the old one. It excels in every area that matters. It is finally a true competitor to the A4 and 3-series.
Price - £35,510
Engine - 2.1 litre, inline-4, turbocharged, diesel
Transmission - 7-speed automatic
0-62mph - 6.6 seconds
Top Speed - 153mph
Power - 204hp
Torque - 500Nm/369lb ft
Economy - 65.7mpg
CO2 - 113g/km
Kerb Weight - 1,595kg