Just in time for the holiday season, Mercedes-Benz debuted the facelifted version of its popular small executive saloon, the C-Class on December 7; barely three weeks after the launch of another significant model, the A-Class hatchback.
As far as facelifts go, this one is fairly major, with 50 percent of parts claimed to be new, including the car’s electronic control units (its “brains”), a very significant change. That said, you wouldn’t really know it from the outside, as the visual changes are subtle.
Basically it’s just the usual suspects – LED-ier headlights and taillights, reshaped bumpers with larger air intakes, that sort of thing. Otherwise, dimensions are identical to before, in otherwords, the C-Class has the largest interior space, even though the new 3 Series has a longer wheelbase now.
On the inside, there’s been tech improvements to keep the C up to date with digital trends: a larger 10.3-inch infotainment screen (the old one was 8.4-inch), a digital and configurable 12.3-inch instrument cluster (though it retains its traditional twin-dial outline), and a new steering wheel with touchpads to control the aforementioned screens, similar to the also-recently-facelifted S-Class flagship and the new A-Class.
For now, three body styles are available – sedan, coupe and convertible – along with only one engine: C 180, which, as the model’s base powerplant, is Singapore’s volume seller.
It’s a 1.6-litre turbo with 156bhp, and 250Nm of torque, mated to a nine-speed automatic (previously seven-speed). In sedan form, it’ll do 0-100km/h in 8.3 seconds, top out at 225km/h, and fuel economy is claimed at 6.6L/100km.
For the coupe, those figures are 8.5 seconds, 226km/h and 6.7L/100km, while the convertible’s are 8.9 seconds, 220km/h and 7.0L/100km. All versions fall into VES band C1 ($10k surcharge).
But while the introduction of the new version of anything is bound to be exciting, the really interesting stuff is yet to come.
The other volume seller, the C 200 is currently undergoing homologation with the Land Transport Authority, and is due on sale in Q1 next year.
The ‘200’ engine is part of a completely new powerplant family, a 1.5-litre turbo four-pot with the same horsepower (184hp) but slightly less torque (280Nm) than the outgoing 2.0-litre. How has this been achieved?
Not with witchcraft, but with science: like its handsome big brother, the athletic Mercedes CLS, the C 200 uses 48V ‘mild hybrid’ technology, and a belt-driven starter/alternator.
The upshot is that even though performance is the same, economy will be improved, as the new engine architecture can cut the engine when coasting along, provide a 14hp boost to quickly bring the engine into its ideal operating range, and also allow the start/stop system to operate much more smoothly.
If performance is the only thing on your mind though, there’s the AMG C 43 to look forward to.
It’s received much fewer revisions as compared to the lesser Cs, but it still squeezes 23hp more from its twin turbo 3.0-litre V6, for a total of 390hp, and as we discovered, has simply made one of our all-rounder performance favourites even more of a hoot to drive.
But away from the future and back to the present: standard features on the C180s include 64-colour ambient lighting, smartphone connectivity, 17-inch wheels, reverse camera, six airbags, electric front seats, paddleshifters, selectable drive modes and cruise control; the coupe and convertibles add Agility Control Suspension (lowered 15mm, and selectable damping) to that mix.
For a sportier look, an AMG Line package is also available – at $10,000 for the sedan, $9,000 for the coupe, and $10,300 for the cabriolet – which comprises a bodykit, a sports steering wheel, 18” rims, perforated brake discs, and sports suspension.
Prices start at $182,888 for the C 180 saloon, $192,888 for the Coupe, $222,888 for the Cabriolet, and $339,888 for the C 43.