Since its launch, Mercedes’ new C-Class has made a big impression in the small executive sector, thanks to a new classy look that bears more than a passing resemblance to the much more expensive S-Class luxury saloon – especially at the rear. There’s function to the form too, with the new body weighing in some 100 kilograms less than before and boasting improved aerodynamics.

Currently a choice of a 1,991 cc, four-cylinder petrol and a 2,143 cc, four-cylinder diesel engine (with various power outputs) are offered, each available with a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic gearboxes.

Tested here is the 184 PS C200 SE. It might be the entry model, but there’s nothing cheap about the way this car drives – far from it in fact with the C200 possessing all the same feelings of panache that you’d expect from a Mercedes. Performance is quick (0-62 mph in 7.5 seconds and a 147 mph top speed), although it doesn’t have the effortless driveability of the diesels – instead requiring a fair dose of revs to get things going. Luckily this is no chore thanks to a six speed manual gearbox that’s slick and accurate to use. For a petrol, emissions (123g/km) and efficiency (53.3 combined mpg) are also impressive.

Even in this slightly softer sprung SE guise, the C200 is much more engaging to drive than the old C-Class – with a considerably better chassis and superbly weighted steering and sharper turn-in. It’s the sort of car that feels responsive and focussed and is enjoyable to drive at any speed, yet is also comfortable even on poor quality roads. Refinement levels aren’t class leading however, with engine, road and wind noise all noticeable at higher speeds.

When you step inside the new C-class, you’re in for quite a surprise. It looks nothing like before, being radically different from all the existing family of Mercedes cars, bar the current S-class, which it takes inspiration from. It really is a work of art, fusing a blend of state-of-the art functionality with well-crafted materials: the dashboard top is covered with imitation stitched leather, the centre console getting a glossy piano black finish, completed with intricate chrome dials and SLS supercar inspired air vents.

Three model lines make up the new C-Class range – SE, Sport and the AMG Line.

Obviously this entry level car does without many of the toys found higher up the range, but nevertheless it’s far from basic. As standard you get Artico (artificial leather) upholstery, two-zone air conditioning, cruise control and a media interface located in the central storage between the front seats. Also included is Mercedes’ new touchpad to control the entertainment functions via a centrally-mounted seven-inch colour display.

Customers wishing to tailor their car to their specific requirements can select from a series of option packs. On the SE this includes the Executive Pack which features Garmin® Map Pilot navigation, heated front seats and split folding rear seats.

Practical technologies are also fitted as standard - with a reversing camera, rain sensing wipers, Attention Assist, Speedtronic cruise control, heated windscreen wiper washers, a tyre pressure monitoring system and Collision Prevention system.

The new C-class’s helm offers great adjustability of steering column and seat. Overall cabin space is good, with enough space for four occupants to travel in comfort, while the 480 litre boot – although far from class leading – nevertheless has a usefully wide opening. The rear seats also fold completely flat, allowing long loads to be carried.



It might be the entry point into the range, but you won’t feel short changed with this C200 SE, as it offers a great blend of prestige, driver appeal, together with class-leading technology and safety.


Tech spec:

Mercedes C200 SE
List price: £27,590
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbocharged petrol
Max Power 184 PS
Max torque: 300 Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
0-62mph: 7.5 seconds
Top speed: 147 mph
Economy/CO2: 53.3mpg, 123g/km