Around the time when the C200 Kompressor was replaced by the C200 CGI we were all very grim faced. But not because the new generation C-class was a disappointment (in fact the CGI made 4 per cent more power than the Kompressor). The frowns were because Kompressor was a much cooler name than a couple of alphabets put together. Since then, the CGI has gone ahead and turned our frowns upside down with performance that made its predecessor become a happy memory.
Now, the C-class as we know it is not a very old design with its last revision coming in 2007. And at the Detroit Auto Show, 2011, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the face-lifted C-class.The exterior of the car sees some design changes, the most obvious being that kink in the headlamp which makes it look a lot like the Laura's headlamps. The bumper too has been redesigned and now gets LED daytime running lamps and larger air dams. The combination of the new bumpers and headlamp design makes the car look a tad meaner. The bonnet is now made from aluminium helping the car shed a few kilos. The car also gets new 10 spoke alloy wheels.
Step inside the car and everything feels brand new. The first thing you will notice is the new contoured steering wheel. It's now a three-spoke unit with integrated 12-button multi function steering wheel. It's a few millimetres smaller in diameter, and that makes it feel nice and compact. The instrument cluster gets new clocks in a three barrel design with metal surrounds as well as a new colour display that looks much better than the displays on some of the latest phones. A major setback in the old C-class was that the materials in use were considered a bit below par for a Mercedes. That issue has been addressed in the new car with materials used being much better in feel and texture. But the highlight is the roof. It's a dual sunroof that gives both the front and rear passengers the ability to look at the sky with the front section that can be completely opened.
Under the hood, the car retains the turbocharged 1796cc CGI engine that makes 186PS at 5600rpm and 285Nm of torque between 2400-4000rpm. And with the torque coming in at a low 2400rpm the car retains the excellent drivability its predecessor was famous for. The difference lies in the new 7 speed automatic gearbox. The combination of the two helps the car rush to 100kmph in just 7.67 seconds, which is almost a whole second faster than the older C-class. And that too after being tested in wet conditions. The car has a top speed of 189kmph, thundering past the quarter mile in 16.34s (at 141kmph) and the standing kilometre in 29.59s (at 179kmph).
The Macpherson axle at the rear and the multi link units at the rear make this car a sweet handler. It feels exactly the same whether you're at 60kmph, 80kmph or 140kmph - a typical Merc characteristic. However, the car does not soak up all the bumps in the road the way an E-class does. The suspension is well set up and even quick lane changes at fast speeds do not unsettle the car. The ventilated disc at the front and solid discs at the rear offer excellent stopping power with the car coming to a standstill from 100kmph in 45.3m within 3.16 seconds.
The car uses Mercedes' BlueEfficiency system which not only reduces the car's noise and vibration levels (not that we've had any complaints on that front from a Mercedes) but also adds to the fuel economy. The car will happily deliver 8.5kmpl in the city and 14.26kmpl on the highways giving it an average economy of 10.2kmpl.
The new C200 CGI, then, is all set to take over from where the pre face lift model left off and that too with more panache. And with the price tag of Rs 34.57 (on road Mumbai) expected to remain the same, the new C-class is getting set to close the gap between itself and the segment leading 3-series from its German competitor.