Copying is the best form of flattery, they say. And Mercedes-Benz has definitely flattered itself by morphing its flagship S-Class limousine into a smaller form-factor – the C-Class executive sedan.
Looking at the S-Class, which The Peak reviewed earlier this year, it is not hard to understand why the Three-Pointed Star did not need to look far for inspiration. The full-sized limousine boasts first-class luxury coupled with several innovations that this magazine noted would eventually appear in other models within the stable.
For starters, the C-Class gets all-new LED headlamps as part of its new sleek design. It winks at you, when you unlock the car using your remote key fob, with a cool blue “brow” that lights up for a second before fading away.
The top-of-the-range C250 AMG Line tested here has got a cosmetic upgrade, with a more sporty bodykit – like its gaping air intakes on the front bumper – to match its more sporty disposition. The car also gets a 15mm drop in ride height and perforated brake discs often seen in sports and race cars.
The well-sculpted lines and flowing curves all get their cues from the S-Class. In the rear, the C-Class teardrop-shaped lamps mimic those found on its larger brethren. If you saw one zipping by, you might easily mistake it for the flagship limo – especially now that the C-Class is longer and wider than its predecessor.
Notably, the wheelbase has increased by 80mm from the previous generation to 2,840mm – which translates to more cabin space for both front and rear occupants.
Inside, the cabin once again takes cues from the S-Class. It features the “eye socket”- style air vents on the dash. The trim sweeps elegantly across from the door panels to the dashboard akin to that in Big Brother, but the design incorporates more sporty elements such as a three-spoke steering wheel, and a combination of aluminium and wood trims.
Sitting on the centre console between the two front seats is a command dial that is now de rigueur in all premium cars. It controls everything from the radio and MP3 player to the navigation system and clock-adjustment duties. Interestingly, the C-Class is equipped with a touchpad, hovering right above the standard rotary dial, which allows you to input characters by drawing with your finger tip. Anyone familiar with the regular spin-and-select knob knows just how tiresome it is to input a destination like “International Business Park”. The new input method helps tremendously by allowing you to keep your eyes on the road, instead of the 14cm big screen on the dash.
The C-Class also comes with a new Mercedes-Benz feature known as the tunnel-detection system that shuts the air-recirculation flap in the air-conditioning system, whenever the car detects via GPS signal that it is going through a tunnel. This helps prevent fumes or poor-quality air in the tunnel from getting into the cabin.
Speaking of the drive, the new C-Class is not just all about looks and tech gadgets. It’s set up for a more sporty drive, likely in a bid to take on its 3-Series rival from BMW. While the steering feels direct and the suspension settings are well-judged, the C-Class still feels more at home competing in the luxury department. It’s not that the C250 isn’t capable; it can do the 0-100kmh sprint in 6.6 seconds, some 0.8 seconds faster than its predecessor. But this new offering seems to be wanting to be something it is not. The suspension can get a little unsettled, especially when going over road imperfections around fast corners. It’s not something most drivers would be concerned about, but it mars an otherwise excellent drive.
The C-Class, bearing the S-Class genes, has a reputation to keep up. It sports the flowing lines that offer a great-looking package. It’s well-built with solid fit and finish all around. It also inherits the tech items from its more costly stablemates, and even comes with some new ones. It’s hard to fault the C250 AMG, when it comes with a dash of (S-) Class.