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Mercedes-Benz C200 AMG Line Review: The Matured Junior Executive

The C-Class has long been the staple junior executive sedan. From its humble roots as the entry point to the fabled 3-pointed star, this newest C has proven to become more grown-up than ever. 
OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
08 May 2022
From its humble roots, this newest C has proven to be more grown-up than ever.
What we like:
pros
Refined
pros
quick and agile
pros
excellent urban runabout and highway cruiser
What we dislike:
cons
The new mix of physical buttons and ones with haptic feedback for cabin controls take some getting used to
cons
engine note could be more inspiring

Back in the early 80s when Mercedes-Benz (MB) launched the W201 190E, it represented the entry point for many consumers to the fabled 3-pointed star. Given the nickname “Baby Benz” by enthusiasts, it represented the entry point to the brand for many as it possessed the refinement, safety and quality that MB offered for its larger luxury sedans, but in a compact form. Although this might have been the genesis, the latest W206-generation C-Class has certainly moved beyond its “entry level” roots, especially with the introduction of the CLA and A-Classes in later years. From its humble roots, this newest C has proven to be more grown-up than ever.

With MB’s current round of updates to their model range, it looks as though they have carried over most design elements across the range and now onto the new C-Class. Just like the rest of the range, it possesses a similar coupe-like silhouette, large trapezoidal grille housing its 3-pointed star front and centre, and swooping headlamps which appear to extend all the way to its front wheel arches. Compared to the outgoing W205-generation C-Class, the new model is more muscular, as if its deltoids had received a proper buffing up. The C200 AMG Line featured here, receives a more aggressive looking body kit, sports suspension and a set of 19-inch multi-spoke rims over the standard models brings the C-Class lower to the ground, complementing its new design and providing a sportier stance.

When the first images of the new C first surfaced, I was struck by its enlarged E-Class-like size. However, all fears dissipated upon seeing it in person for the first time and actually piloting it on our roads. The C200 definitely appears larger in pictures than in the flesh. Being just 65mm longer and 10mm wider than the outgoing model, none of this gain in surface area can honestly be felt from the drivers’ seat. Which by the way, is a comfortable and inviting place to be in.

On the inside, the C-Class really looks like a miniature version of the S-Class, less its periscope-like air vents, which by the way, glow in either blue or red, corresponding to down or upwards toggling of the cabin’s temperature. What first grabs your attention is its wide 12.3-inch instrument display followed by a vertically mounted, tablet-like MBUX 2.0 infotainment system. Touch sensitivity of the system is excellent and with AC temperature controls being permanently displayed at the bottom of this screen, you definitely feel like the designers at MB paid close attention to user-experience.

Listening to the Burmester sound system hitting both high and low notes with perfection was particularly enjoyable, which comes as standard on the C200 AMG Line model, and it definitely felt like the Berlin Philharmonic was right in front of you. Accompanied with a well insulated cabin and comfortable seats, the C-Class’s cabin makes for an enjoyable place to spend time in on your commute. Being a freshly designed layout, the mix of physical buttons and ones with haptic feedback for controls throughout the cabin will take some getting used to. Its fit and finish is more than excellent, and exudes an extremely premium touch.

Pushing its start stop button, you’d be surprised little of the typical cranking of the starter motor, as the C200’s turbo-charged 1.5-litre engine awakens. Its starter works seamlessly and quietly, and this sets the tone for the C-Class as a refined runabout. Paired with a 48V mild hybrid system, apart from the usual 4-cylinder drone, you might hear the C200 whizzing along as the electric motor kicks in to provide additional boost for more immediate acceleration. This enables the C200 to leap to 100 km/h in 7.3 seconds, and should prove more than enough for city driving. Despite wearing 19-inch multi spoke rims, its ride may be firm over the roughest of surfaces, but is never uncomfortable. Whilst MB offers Dynamic Select to allow you to toggle between different driving modes, the C200 finds itself most at home in comfort mode, but maybe with steering placed in ‘Sport’ for the increased sensation of steering sharpness.

Handling is precise and direct, and with 4-wheel steering coming as standard on AMG Line models arriving on our shores (that includes the C180 AMG Line), the Merc is surprisingly agile despite its slightly larger dimensions compared to the outgoing model. In real-world terms, maneuvering around sharp corners or tight spaces requires less turn-in than expected. The maximum of 2.5 degrees of motion for its rear wheels might not seem much in comparison to the S-Class’s 4.5-10 degrees (and was probably configured proportionately to the C’s size) but having even the slightest amount of steering by the rear does not make it less of a useful feature for those who often find themselves parking in tight CBD parking spaces.

At $306,888 at the time of writing, whether or not the C200 AMG Line's premium price might cause a stir amongst some. However, let’s not forget that this being the range topper, the C200 is brimmed with features that serve to enhance the driving experience of MB’s compact executive. Going down to the spec sheet, putting this C200 against the equivalent German rivals in the form of the BMW 318i M-Sport and Audi A4 2.0 TFSI (the ones that are currently on offer in our market) might not even make for the most fair of comparisons, due to differing power outputs.For these, the C180 might be a more suited match, which OneShift will put to the test for comparison. However, amongst the current C-Class range, if it’s The Best or Nothing, I must say, this is the one to go for.

Credits: Words by Joel Foo; Photos by Horizon Drivers' Club

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