Mercedes-Benz C 250 CGI Avantgarde
Price Guide (recommended price before statutory and delivery charges): $66,950
Options fitted to test car (not included in above price): Vision package $4920, AMG Sports package $4850; Keyless Go $1850.
Crash rating: five stars (Euro NCAP)
Fuel: 91 RON ULP
Claimed fuel economy (L/100km): 7.7
CO2 emissions (g/km): 180
Also consider: BMW 325i, Audi A4 2.0 TFSI
About our ratings
Overall rating: 3.5/5.0
Price, Packaging and Practicality: 3.0/5.0
Behind the wheel: 3.5/5.0
When is a $78,570 medium-sized car good value? When it presents like a car with a six-figure pricetag.
Cleverly optioned, Mercedes-Benz's latest C-Class midranger is a case in point. Our test car, a C 250 CGI, came complete with a handsome AMG Sports package that added bigger (18-inch) wheels and sexed-up brakes, a modest bodykit and interior upgrades. Then the burghers at Mercedes Oz HQ in Mulgrave gifted the turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder C-Class a Vision Package that included bi-xenon headlamps, sunroof and upgraded stereo and some other goodies. Finally a keyless entry and start system gave the car the same sort of walk up and fly persona that the brand's uber-expensive AMG models possess.
This clever optioning means for a relatively light sticker price you end up with a car that presents to the casual observer as not far short from the bahnstorming C 63. Sure the aficionados will pick the lack of a power-bulged bonnet and big multi-outlet exhaust pipes, but the little ol' C 250 gets a purposeful stance thanks to the AMG Sports kit's 15mm lower suspension and in the bright white of our test car, clean smart, classy lines.
It not just a case of show either. The 200 and 250 CGi C-Class feature the latest Benz four-cylinder powerplant. Though based roughly on the old Kompressor series of supercharged fours, the new petrol engines get turbos and direct injection. They are both more muscular than the old supercharged engines and also more frugal. They are more refined to boot.
C 200 CGI and C 250 CGI share much of their componentry, but the deeper breathing and more powerful C 250 is the sweeter package. There's a fluency to the way the 250 series engine builds power and torque, whereas the 200 seems, well, a little flat and breathless.
The engine even manages to match better with Mercedes' less-than-perfect five-speed auto. How good will this car be when it finally gets a lightweight version of the excellent seven-speed auto used in Mercedes' bigger cars!
While the old C200 K was rated at 135kW and 250Nm, the latest C 200 CGI pumps out 135kW/270Nm. Our C 250 ups that by 15kW and 40Nm.
The turbo engines bolster their numerical superiority with a wider torque band. Instead of producing peak torque from around 2800-5000rpm as the Kompressor engines do, the turbos (both 200 and 250) are fully on-song 800-1000rpm lower and hold peak torque to 4600rpm -- with better than 90 per cent of the maximum available through to the redline. All the while they use less juice -- over a week of city driving the C 250 was happily in the high 9.0L/100km range. A lighter right foot will fare better.
We liked the 250 series CGI direct-injected turbo petrol four in the E-Class sedan and coupe and it's even better matched to the C-Class sedan. There's no turbo lag to mention and the result is an engine that's smoother and more elastic than its 1.8-litre capacity would suggest.
It's a near-perfect match for the balanced and wieldy attributes of the Sport-suspended C-Class chassis, and a clever addition to the range.
Over the C 200, the standard 250 gets COMAND APS (entertainment and navigation system) with single-disc CD/DVD player, 18-inch alloys, splitfold rear and some other detailed changes. We still don't really like the pop-up dashtop nav screen that afflicts the W204 C-Class, but the rest of the cabin is pretty smart. The relatively high level of equipment is aided by the option packages detailed above.
The optional AMG sports wheel is satisfying chunky and white-faced instruments lift a instrument panel from the dull standard offer. Alloy pedals, scuff plates and console highlights also help to lift an otherwise pretty dark cabin. At the risk of going over the top, perhaps a few lighter highlight panels in the seats and door cards would be a worthwhile add-on.
Performance is strong in real world terms. Benz claims a 0-100km of 7.4sec -- 0.8sec better than the C 200 CGI and a scant 0.1sec slower than the cheapest V6 C-Class.
And comparing unoptioned models, it's almost a $24,000 step from C 250 to that cheapest of the V6-engined C-Class models, the C 300. We can't see the value frankly.
In so many ways, the C 250 CGI is the perfect C-Class. It deserves to sell by the truckload.
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