The Mercedes C Class receives a much needed mid-life refresh to carry the model line into the next few years.
With hints of S and E Class cars (more S than E) pressed into its bodywork, and just like the previous W204 model, the W205 C Class comes across as more youthful, yet classy, and built to cater to a younger buyer.
The facelift is one of the most extensive, with over six-thousand electronic and mechanical parts given a rework, all of which comes together to make the C Class just that much better.
External changes are mostly kept to the nose and tail, with new bumper treatment and a range of grill (re)designs. LED head and tail lights have also been restyled on the inside. Our Exclusive trim test car gets a three-part chrome trim strip in the front, and a classy tri-stripped grille.
For 2019, the new C Class has adopted a digitised instrument cluster. Unlike Mercs a class above it, which were already designed with digital cockpits, the C Class retains most of its dashboard design, and therefore uses two separate display assemblies (12.3” for the instrument cluster and 10.25” for the infotainment unit) instead of a singular “snowboard” styled unit with two integrated displays.
The new digitised instrument cluster also offers drivers some style customisation of the dials, just like the E and S Class.
Also new to the C Class is a steering wheel with touch-sensitive controls, which makes scrolling through the instrument cluster and infotainment a breeze. Mercedes-Benz has however retained same set of controls for the infotainment on the centre console, with a scroll wheel and a touchpad, which we feel the latter sits too high, visually obscuring the far side of the button pad flanking the controls.
Smartphone integration through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, while other features like leather seats with 3-memory electrically adjustable front units, ambient lighting with 64 colour options and brown open-pore walnut wood trim; makes for a well appointed interior.
Taller rear passengers though might find legroom a bit of a squeeze, but for someone with my average 172cm, the Merc accommodates well enough.
The base C 180 utilises a 1.6 litre turbocharged engine, good for 156hp and a healthy dab of 250Nm from 1,200-4,000rpm. Acceleration to 100km/h stands at 8.3 seconds, which is quite impressive. There is only a very momentary bit of lag with the turbocharger taking a brief moment to spool up, but after that, acceleration is brisk.
With a characteristic light steering, and plenty of leverage from the wheel, the C 180 is a breeze to drive. From the lights, the C 180 starts off on second gear, and utilises the first gear only in heavier applications, like a spirited taking off, especially in more sporty drive modes.
We like that there are 5 selectable drive programs, inclusive of a ‘Sport+’ mode, which improves the response of the engine and that new 9GTRONIC (9 speed) transmission, while dialing down just a little of the driver safety nets (still well within safe parameters) for an entertaining drive.
The C 180 is intended to deliver a comfortable ride, and it does this well, partially thanks to its 225/50R17 Bridgestone Turanza tyres. Road noise is negligible, though insulation through the side windows, coupled with mirrors buffeting at speed mar what would have been a near-excellent driving experience.
Keeping things safe, equipment like Active Brake Assist, behaves like an extra set of eyes on the road for you, helping to prevent or mitigate any would-be accidents by first warning, and then applying the brakes automatically when it detects an obstacle in-front. Airbags with front thorax-pelvis protection, driver knee and window units are standard, while an active bonnet aids in passenger protection.
The C Class, like its other two German counterparts, like the Audi A4 and the incoming BMW 3 Series set important benchmarks for other brands to follow or beat. But while we await the arrival of BMW’s all-new 3-Series, we know we love how this mighty Merc holds its own.