Adam Hurrell takes the new Mercedes C-Class C200 AMG for a drive and discovers it is one of the best cars he’s driven all year
They say: “Impressive to the end” We say: “It certainly is”
The newest version of the Mercedes C-Class was launched recently and I have to say that I was excited about taking one for a drive. You see, there’s been a Mercedes in my family since before I was born, so it’s a brand I am very familiar with. It was almost like a little slice of home here in Muscat.
On the outside, the 2015 C200 model is exceptionally handsome. The sweeping carriage lines along its flanks, the deep front air-damns and the low front splitter give the car an imposing look. At the back, the wide shoulders and swept-back tail lights give a great sense of sportiness and power. Similarities in appearance with its much bigger brother, the S-Class, are deliberate and give the C-Class a premium look.
The high-end feel continues on the inside, with leather upholstery and a leather roll-top dashboard. The door-cards and dashboard of the car I drove had aluminium highlights and these gave the interior an executive feel. From the way the door clunks shut to the way the wonderful sunroof glides back silently, it’s sheer quality from top to toe. The attention to detail in the interior is exceptional – an element I like in a car. Nothing has been overlooked here.
On the road, the new C-Class continued to impress. I began my drive in Comfort mode, which perhaps could be called “everyday mode”. The two-litre four-cylinder turbo charged unit in the C200, pulled nicely and the ride was smooth and comfortable. But the fun started when I flicked from Comfort to Sport+ mode and nailed the throttle. For an engine that only produces 184bhp, it certainly didn’t hang around. The little paddles behind the steering wheel for manual gear changes are a great addition. While the gear changes had been seamless before, they now came with feel and precision. Sport+ mode tightens the suspension, holds gears for longer and makes the throttle immediately more responsive. It also allows for a little bit of slack in the rear end. I discovered that after exiting a tight roundabout, where a little flick of opposite lock was required to correct the back end. This may be a four-door saloon with a two-litre engine, but when when put through its paces, the rear-wheel drive chassis rewards the driver in abundance. Sport+ allows you to have a bit of fun without letting you completely lose the plot. Although I wasn’t quite expecting the back end to slip the way it did, I tried a similar trick in Comfort mode and the car did cling on in the way I expected. It’s a nifty bit of engineering here – if you want to be a bit boisterous, the car will allow that within certain parameters, but equally when you’re just pottering to the golf club it will do so quietly and comfortably.
Throughout my drive, on a mix of both twisting roads and the motorway, the C-Class felt composed and tight. The car really is built like a tank and that solidness gives the driver a huge amount of confidence – a welcome feeling when driving in Muscat.
When I returned to the Mercedes-Benz dealership in Qurum, I met up again with Rajwinder Singh, the company’s senior executive of fleet sales, who explained there was one extra feature he needed to demonstrate before I left. The feature? Active Parking Assist with Parktronic – a feature that took my breath away. Raj pulled up to a bay parking space, turned the system on and took his hands off the steering wheel. Keeping a close eye on his surroundings using the mirrors and reversing camera, he was able to supervise the car as it automatically positioned itself into a tight spot with astounding ease and pinpoint accuracy. The car then exited the same space automatically as well.
This rates as one of the most impressive features I’ve experienced on a car. In my time as a journalist and as someone who has worked in the car industry, I’ve seen a lot of features that are just gimmicks. Mercedes Active Park Assist with Parktronic is no gimmick. It’s a feature that works and will honestly change your life. No more scuffed alloys or dinged bumpers.
Overall, the C-Class is a hugely competent car. Not only is it better looking than its direct competitors, but it drives exceedingly well.
Without a doubt, it is one of the best cars I’ve driven all year.
Mercedes Benz C200 AMG