[TEST DRIVE] Merc's revamped C-Class is fast and anything but furious
PAJU, Gyeonggi — Mercedes-Benz has long been a beloved imported car brand for Koreans. Benz is trying to maintain that reputation with its fully revamped C-Class sedan.
Last year, three out of 10 imported cars sold in Korea were Benz. The C-Class sedan, fully revamped for the first time in eight years, launched in Korea last month.
First introduced in 1982, the C-Class sedan is the German automaker’s best-selling lineup with a total of 10.5 million units sold globally so far. The sedan is available in Korea in two versions, C 200 4MATIC Avantgarde and C 300 AMG.
The Korea JoongAng Daily recently got behind the wheel of the C 300 AMG on a 100-kilometer (62-mile) journey from Yeouido, western Seoul, to Paju, Gyeonggi, and took the C 200 4MATIC model on the way back.
The reporter was reminded of Benz’s S-Class cars by the exterior of both models and realized why the C-Class cars are often referred to as the "baby S-Class." The C 300 looked a bit sharper with a star-pattern radiator grille, while the C 200 appeared softer.
The design and digitization of the interior is top-notch. Both had an 11.9-inch touch screen in the center of the dashboard, tilted about 6 degrees for comfortable ergonomics. The second-generation MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment system allowed everything to be controlled via the touch screen including its navigation system, sound volume and the air conditioner. It also comes with an upgraded voice-recognition system, the company said.
The upgraded ambient light system is able to emit 64 different combinations of colors which can even be used to visually warn the driver in certain dangerous situations, such as when they veer out of the lane, by lighting up in red.
In the C 300 model, the headlamps come with “Digital Lights,” with 2.6 million pixels and 84 LED modules, which is said to enable a more acute and smart distribution of light at night. Whether or not that's true was hard to verify during this test drive as the car was only driven in the middle of the day.
Driving was very soft and smooth, and this reporter felt no discomfort even when hitting sudden speed bumps. The engine noise was noticeable when driving at high speeds, but not enough to disturb the driver.
The strong acceleration made the test driving a bit more pleasant. The C 200 model seemed to be more concentrated on safety, while the C 300 model focused more on speed.
Equipped with a 4-cylinder gasoline engine, the C 200 4MATIC model generates a maximum of 204 horsepower and 32.6 kilogram-meters of torque. The C 300 AMG model boasts 258 horsepower and 40.8 kilogram-meters of torque.
The C 300 only takes 6 seconds to reach 100 kilometers per hour while the C 200 model needs 7.1 seconds.
The driving assist system, including its lane-following assist, forward collision-avoidance assist and intelligent speed limit assist, which notifies the driver of speed limits on unfamiliar roads, all worked well. The system is the exact same as what is currently being used in the S-Class, Benz Korea explained.
“Looks a lot like the S-Class, the new C-Class has everything that Korean customers prefer,” said Johannes Schoen, director of Mercedes-Benz Korea’s product, marketing and digital business team. “The latest version is our sportiest and most digitalized C-Class to date, and with its new looks, performance and technology, we’re confident it’s going to be the most beloved comfort zone for our Korean customers.”
The sticker price of C 200 4MATIC Avantgarde starts at 61.5 million won ($50,000) while the C 300 AMG begins at 68 million won. That's steep even compared to its rivals in the market, including the BMW 320 that starts at 50.2 million won and the Genesis G70 that starts at 40.35 million won.
Mercedes-Benz sold a total of 76,152 units in Korea last year, breaking 6 trillion won in annual sales for the first time. It has been the No. 1 imported car brand in terms of sales in Korea since 2016.
BY SARAH CHEA [firstname.lastname@example.org]