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Mercedes-Benz C-Class Edition C review: 3.0/5

Time for a run-out edition of the old Merc C-Class, with muscular AMG looks.

Neil Briscoe

Words: Neil Briscoe - @neilmbriscoe
Pics: Shane O' Donoghue - @Shane_O_D

Published on: November 22, 2013

Words: Neil Briscoe - @neilmbriscoe
Pics: Shane O' Donoghue - @Shane_O_D

Published on: November 22, 2013

Tech Specs

Model testedMercedes-Benz C 200 CDI Edition C
Pricing€43,125 (C-Class range starts at €37,820)
Engine2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmissionseven-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive
Body stylefour-door saloon
RivalsAudi A4, BMW 3 Series, Lexus IS
CO2 emissions135g/km (Band B2, €280 per annum)
Combined economy55mpg (5.1 litres/100km)
Top speed215km/h
0-100km/h9.1 seconds
Power136hp at 4,000rpm
Torque360Nm at 1,750rpm

Good: good value, handsome looks, terrific steering and chassis, quality

Not so good: cramped driving position, turbo lag

When a venerable model is about to be replaced, it does tend to throw something of a dilemma up for buyers. Do you hold on, wait for the new one and get the latest tech, the most up-to-date economy and performance and, probably, pay through the nose for it? Or do you grab one of the last-of-the-line current models, a deal presumably sweetened by the manufacturer loading on the extra kit and giving the price a haircut?

Well, that's precisely the idea behind this Mercedes-Benz C-Class Edition C. There's an all-new C-Class coming in mid-2014, so Mercedes is keen to sell the remaining production run of the current car, and while special editions like the Micra Wave and Golf Match are theoretically anathema to the likes of Mercedes, there is no doubting that this Edition C does offer conspicuous good value for money.

For a price tag of €43,125 you get an AMG body kit, complete with gorgeous black 17-inch five-spoke alloys, parking sensors front and rear, dark-tinted headlamps, split-fold rear seats, a Bluetooth phone system, split-zone climate control, auto headlights and wipers, cruise control and a multi-function steering wheel. You also get part-leather seats (actually, it's Mercedes' own Artico man-made leather, but it's still nice) with suede-effect inserts and on the doors.

Nicer still is the fact that, depending on which model you choose, all that extra kit comes gratis, and Mercedes Ireland reckons it's worth around €4,500.

But should that kind of saving be enough to tempt you into an outgoing car when the all-new one is on the horizon? Possibly, actually.

The current C-Class has always been one of Merc's more impressive models and, bar one or two caveats, it remains so. The AMG kit certainly helps with the looks and in the flat, non-metallic white paint and dark alloys of our test car, it looked little short of brilliant. Muscular but subtle.

Inside too, there's much to like. The instrument cluster is cleanly laid out and easy on the eye, the Comand system, with its simple rotary controller, is so much easier than some other car marques' infotainment setups and the sense of sheer solid, unbreakable build quality is palpable.

In fact the only problem on the inside of the C-Class is room, or a lack thereof. I admit to being rather on the bulky side (or as Eric Cartman would have it, I'm not fat, I'm festively plump...), but I found the driving position a touch cramped. The seat bolsters are a touch narrow for my taste, yet there's only just enough room between the seat bolster and the door card to drop your hand down to the adjustors.

Fore-aft space is also an issue. With my seven-year old son in the seat behind me, I found I had to crank my seat uncomfortably far forward to give him sufficient legroom. At a time when the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 can offer proper lounging room, front and rear, this is the C-Class's gravest shortcoming.

Thankfully, with the kids dropped off at school and my seat into something of a more selfish position, I was able to enjoy the C-Class's trump card - its chassis. Now, the BMW 3 Series generally gets the kudos for being the best small exec to drive, but I reckon that the C-Class actually has superior steering. It's lighter and feels more natural, less artificially heavy than that of the BMW, and there's plenty of feel and feedback too. Because the C-Class has an excellent ride quality (helped by those dark alloys not being a silly, show-off size) it can feel a touch loose-limbed and remote when you drive it gently. Find some proper corners and start asking more serious questions of the chassis though, and it answers back with vim. This is a terrific car to drive; it's agile, responsive and just plain fun. The next C-Class will have much to live up to in this regard.

The engine and gearbox are, though, somewhat of a mixed bag. I'd say that, combined, they're about 90 per cent good. An output of 136hp doesn't sound like much and a 9.1-second 0-100km/h time would seem to indicate that it indeed isn't, but through the gears the C 200's diesel feels much peppier than the numbers would suggest. There is some noise to deal with though. The engine is mostly well refined, but any acceleration causes a slightly distant, but pervasive, grumble - like a grumpy relative giving out about the television in the next room.

It suffers a little from turbo lag too, and combined with the slight hesitancy of the seven-speed automatic gearbox, that means you can be left trickling out of busy junctions when what you need is a bit more low-down punch.

Still, economy is good (Merc's claim of 5.1 litres per 100km feels entirely believable) and if the CO2 emissions look a touch high compared to a 318d, then at least an annual €280 motor tax bill isn't going to much bother someone who can afford to spend €40k+ on their new car.

Ah yes; new. So can we now have an answer to the question please? Stick or twist? Take the €4,500 carrot and grab a current C-Class or hold out for the all-new one? Well, given the AMG kit and that lovely chassis, I'd be sorely tempted to get an Edition C while they're available. But, if you regularly carry rear seat passengers (or are, like me, on the husky side) you might be better advised to hold out.



Alternatives

Car Reviews | Audi A4 2.0 TDI | CompleteCar.ie
Audi A4 vs. Mercedes-Benz C-Class Edition C: good looking and spacious, but turgid to drive and out-done by its smaller A3 Saloon brother.
Car Reviews | BMW 320d EfficientDynamics | CompleteCar.ie
BMW 3 Series vs. Mercedes-Benz C-Class Edition C: not as good looking as the Merc (in this writer's opinion), but matches it for driver appeal and beats it for cabin space.
Car Reviews | Lexus IS 300h | CompleteCar.ie
Lexus IS vs. Mercedes-Benz C-Class Edition C: only a mother could love the looks, but it's good to drive and the hybrid power train is catching up with the diesels.

Tech Specs

Model testedMercedes-Benz C 200 CDI Edition C
Pricing€43,125 (C-Class range starts at €37,820)
Engine2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmissionseven-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive
Body stylefour-door saloon
RivalsAudi A4, BMW 3 Series, Lexus IS
CO2 emissions135g/km (Band B2, €280 per annum)
Combined economy55mpg (5.1 litres/100km)
Top speed215km/h
0-100km/h9.1 seconds
Power136hp at 4,000rpm
Torque360Nm at 1,750rpm