2019 Mercedes-Benz C200 Review
Toby Hagon’s 2019 Mercedes-Benz C200 Review With Price, Specs, Performance, Ride And Handling, Ownership, Safety, Verdict And Score.
In a nutshell: A new engine and more tech adds to the appeal of one of Mercedes-Benz’s top sellers.
2019 Mercedes-Benz C200 Specifications
Price $63,700+ORC Warranty 3 year, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 12 months, 25,000km Safety 5-star ANCAP (2014) Engine 1.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol with 10kW electric motor Power 135kW at 5800-6100rpm Torque 280Nm at 3000-4000rpm Transmission 9-speed auto Drive Rear-wheel drive Dimensions 4686mm (L), 1810mm (W), 1442mm (H), 2840mm (WB) Kerb Weight 1430kg Towing 1800kg GVM 2085kg Boot Space 435L Spare Space saver optional Fuel Tank 60L Thirst 6.4L/100km
The C-Class was long the top selling model for Mercedes-Benz, something eclipsed in recent years by the GLC mid-sized SUV. But the C is still a crucial model for the three-pointed star brand, something that prompted a significant update late in 2018. And it was the entry-level C200 that received the biggest change, bringing a new mild hybrid drivetrain and more equipment – all perfectly timed before the arrival of its most serious rival, the new BMW 3-Series.
What’s in the range and how much does it cost? There’s a diesel-powered C220d ($65,200), a more potent C300 ($71,800) and the sporty C43 ($108,600) and C63 S ($160,900) AMG models. But for this test it’s the C200 we’re interested in.
Priced from $63,700 it’s the most affordable in the broad range, yet it’s been given the most significant update with the addition of a new 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine teamed to a 10kW electric motor that creates a mild hybrid system (which we’ll delve into in detail later).
Standard equipment includes a digital instrument cluster and 10.25-inch infotainment screen in the centre, the latter looking after Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as the sat-nav. There’s the usual array of dual-zone ventilation, reversing camera, dual USB plugs, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights and push button start (although keyless entry costs extra).
Unexpected touches include ambient lighting, velour floor mats, adaptive suspension (with adjustable dampers) and heated exterior mirrors that fold in when the car is parked. Real leather (as opposed to the fake Artico that comes standard) and the elegant open-pore wood trim are part of various option packs that also include a 13-speaker Burmester sound system.
Other options include the Energizing Comfort Control with air ionising and the ability to secrete fragrances in the cabin. There’s also wireless phone charging (which really should be standard) and air suspension.
What’s the cabin like? The C is a sensible sized sedan, kicking off its many attributes with decent rear seat space. Up front, there’s a genuine elegance to the cabin, the selection of materials oozing quality. Optional matte wood trim and metallic circular air vents are the prime example, with few areas overlooked.
Storage is also well sorted, with a sizeable centre console, cupholders and additional pockets at the base of the centre stack. It helps that the gear selector is missing, relocated to the steering column. Even the glovebox and door pockets are ready to swallow water bottles and tablet computers.
What are the front seats like? Seats have a fairly firm surface but offer terrific support over long distances, the side bolsters and long cushion great for all shapes.It’s a shame you still have to splash out real leather in the C200, although the fake Artico is a convincing (and hardy) alternative. Seat controllers on the door are brilliant for adjusting your pew, although at this price level you don’t get memory functionality, so if two are sharing the hot seat you’ll be readjusting each time.
What are the back seats like? As a mid-sizer it still welcomes adults in the rear with respectable headroom (less with the optional panoramic sunroof) and legroom, only the person in the centre compromised on feet space due to the tail transmission tunnel in the centre of the floor.
Rear air vents and the same attention to detail as up front – metal door handles, elegant circular air vents and optional ambient lighting – creates a thoroughly welcoming space. The folding central arm rest also incorporates a handy storage binnacle and cupholders. About the only thing missing is a USB plug to keep the kids content.
What’s the boot like? A 40/20/40 split folding rear seat makes accommodating longer items easier and the boot is quite wide. However, it’s relatively shallow, limiting its usefulness for bikes and other chunky items. There’s 435 litres of storage in the boot.
What are the controls and infotainment like? The familiar Comand controller comes out for one more run in the C-Class before inevitably being replaced by the new operating system called MBUX, already available on the A-Class.
With a touch pad and circular controller it makes it easy to dart around the sizeable 10.25-inch screen that sits on top of the dash (whereas some are integrated into the dash, in the C-Class it’s a separate pod, almost like an artistic feature).
Ventilation controls are grouped in the centre of the dash, toggle switches making for easy quick adjustments. Plus there are prominent menu buttons to quickly access navigation, audio and phone functions, among others. The only thing not accessed quite as quickly is the smartphone connectivity; instead you have to revert to the main menu and scroll to the connectivity section.
And, once there, there are times when a touchscreen would make it easier to select the various Apple CarPlay functions, rather than having to twirl the Command dial or swipe the touchpad. Still, most of the regular controls can be operated from the steering wheel, a stylish three-spoke unit with a nice grip.
As well as cruise control and basic audio functions there is also a favourites button that takes you to a list of pre-selected functions, making it easy to access things that may otherwise be buried in multiple menus.
Small touch pads on either side of the wheel control the main screens (the left one does the centre screen and the right one parts of the instrument cluster). Once you familiarise yourself with it it’s a great way to quickly adjust the displays. And that’s an important point; spending half an hour getting used to the functionality can make all the difference for making the most out of it.
There’s also plenty of functionality packed into the new digital cluster, which is a massive step up, unleashing new functionality. Between the circular tacho and speedo is a detailed trip computer, plus you can replace the tacho with everything from the navigation to a G force meter.
Not as endearing is the gear selector, which is like an indicator stalk to the right of the steering wheel. There’s no functional benefit, the main advantage being the space it frees up in the centre console where the selector would normally be.
What’s the performance like? There are big changes beneath the bonnet, the C200 adopting the latest 1.5-litre four-cylinder. It uses a turbocharger to boost outputs, as well as a 10kW electric motor as part of the EQ Boost system you’ll be hearing lots more about in future Mercedes-Benzes (EQ is Benz’s electric sub-brand and most models in the range will soon benefit from some form of electric assistance).
In total there’s 135kW and 280Nm to play with, both modest numbers. Indeed the power hasn’t changed from the 2.0-litre engine this drivetrain replaces, while torque has actually dropped 20Nm. But it’s connected to a new nine-speed automatic, something that better harnesses the modest outputs and works to keep the engine in a sweet spot. None of which is anything resembling spectacular, the emphasis on relaxed motoring.
Low rev pull is ok with a predictable linearity to the delivery, although don’t expect to be firing up the tarmac. It’s an engine more about the basics, with modest but liveable acceleration. Fine for leisurely cruising or zipping around town, but you can hear it working once you call on more, be it some country road overtaking or spirited hill climbing.
It’ll spin out to about 6500rpm although it’s happier lower in its rev range, the engine ticking over at 1500rpm at 100km/h in ninth gear. The most noticeable difference compared with the old C200 is the lack of a starter motor when you fire things up, the electric motor instead gently rumbling the engine to life.
Those wanting to sharpen the throttle response or get the transmission holding gears longer can play around with the dynamic controller. It includes access to four pre-set drive modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ – as well as an Individual setting that allows you to customise engine response (throttle and transmission characteristics), dampers (to stiffen or soften the ride), steering weight and feel and how much assistance the stability control will offer.
In reality, the Comfort mode best suits the nature of the car, allowing the engine to tick over at lower revs and slink along with minimal fuss. Of course, fuel use is a major part of the focus with the latest C200, the 10kW electric motor assisting the engine and capturing some of the energy normally lost in heat through the braking system. There are only minor improvements to the official consumption figure, which drops from 6.5 litres per 100km to 6.4L/100km. While you’re unlikely to match that in everyday driving – think somewhere closer to 8L/100km – the latest mild hybrid should yield reasonable benefits around town.
What’s it like on the road? Comfort is clearly the focus and the C200 gets off to a good start with a relaxed demeanour. Steering is precise without being darty and there’s enough weight to instil confidence at speed. Wider tyres at the rear (they’re 245mm across versus 225mm up front) demonstrates it’s a car with sporty aspirations, the Continental rubber on ours delivering with decent grip.
The ride is also relaxed, loping into larger bumps and recovering in one slick movement. Dial up the pace and some body roll comes into the equation, the C’s limitations on display. This is more mid-pace comfort machine than corner-carver. It still screams confidence but lacks some of the dynamic sharpness of, say, the latest BMW 3-Series.
Choose the firmer suspension setting and it loses some of its composure, especially once you throw successive bumps into the equation. The body feels overly taut and tensioned, which is out of keeping with the car’s character.
Does it have a spare? The C200 uses runflat tyres that can be driven on temporarily after a puncture. There’s also a tyre pressure warning system to alert of leaks. Keep in mind that driving on runflat tyres when deflated typically renders them irreparable, something that could cost hundreds of dollars to replace the tyre altogether. If you want you can option a space saver spare, which limits the recommended top speed to 80km/h.
Can you tow with it? The C200 is rated to tow up to 1800kg.
What about ownership? At the time of writing Mercedes-Benz offers only a three-year warranty with no limit on how far you drive. As with other luxury brands, you can guarantee the brand is looking at extending that warranty to at least match the five-year minimum coverage now offered by most mainstream brands. But if and when that happens is not yet known.
Mercedes-Benz is currently adjusting its service pricing and the updates haven’t been announced yet. Not that it changes markedly, with C200 requiring check-ups every 12 months or 25,000km. For an indication of pricing, the existing service pricing $396, $792 and $792 respectively for the first three services. A service plan covering the first three years or 75,000km can be pre-paid at $1980, or a five-year, 125,000km incorporates a major service and costs $4580.
What safety features does it have? There are nine airbags in the C-Class, including side curtains, dual front airbags, thorax-protecting side airbags near each door and a driver’s knee airbag. Along with a solid structure it creates a car that protects its occupants well in a crash. A 2014 ANCAP crash test rated it five stars, establishing it provided great occupant protection in both frontal and side impacts.
Pedestrian protection comes in the form of an active bonnet that pops up on impact, helping keep vulnerable heads away from hard points beneath the bonnet. There’s also blind spot warning. The C200 also gets autonomous emergency braking that operates up to 105km/h.
A more advanced radar-based system used on other C-Class models increases its accuracy and operational speed up to 200km/h. Other models also get a mild self-steering system as part of the lane keeping system, as well as evasive steering assistance to help steer to avoid a crash.