The Mercedes-Benz C 220 BlueTEC offers the promise of good economy in a refined and quality package, with the looks and the badge that many people want – but does it have any weak points?
It wasn’t that many years ago when the average Mercedes, together with its rivals, averaged somewhere in the mid-30’s mpg. So it’s impressive that this latest C-Class has an official combined economy figure of 65.7mpg, along with the latest Mercedes styling on the outside, and a shiny new design inside.
The latest Mercedes C-Class ticks all the normal German executive car boxes: front engine, rear-wheel drive, saloon body style, comfortable ride, aspirational badge – and efficiency. It’s in a package that has the latest Mercedes exterior design cues, which means more curves than the square Mercedes models of old, and the rear definitely looks like a mini S-Class.
Inside, the dashboard mixes black and shiny materials to give a more modern upmarket appearance than its arch-rival, the BMW 3 Series.
Under the skin there’s a rear-wheel drive layout as per the 3 Series, rather than the front-wheel drive base of an Audi A4, and there’s a range of efficient and torquey diesel engines designed to appeal to European company car buyers.
This C 220 BlueTEC Sport has a 2143cc, 4-cylinder turbodiesel with a 7G-Tronic Plus seven-speed automatic transmission.
Starting with the basics, we like the rear-wheel drive layout – it’s much more ‘executive’ for this class than a front-wheel drive car that produces wheelspin and torque steer. Overall the C-Class is a refined and quality product. Most people will be happy with the car on their drive, and they’ll be comfortable sitting in it on the motorway.
However if you ask more of the C-Class then ultimately it doesn’t offer the instant responses, the well-weighted and sharper steering, or the sporty and agile handling of a BMW 3 Series. The engine can also be noisy under acceleration.
There are four drive settings: Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. Eco and Comfort are relaxed, but there’s limited response. Sport and Sport Plus hold the car in gear to higher revs. Something in between would be better. The automatic transmission isn’t the quickest responding of units, and when you select reverse gear in particular it feels like it takes an age to respond to throttle input.
Overall the interior will probably appeal to Mercedes fans. It looks modern and high quality, with plastic switches and trim that looks very convincingly like metal. But in terms of interior ergonomics, there are a few issues.
Firstly there are lots of reflections on the shiny black plastic. The physical buttons and screen icons for ventilation could be more prominent; there’s just a small button for ventilation, and only a small icon on screen to show the ventilation setting.
It’s not obvious how to change the brightness of the head-up display, or how to play music through the car from your phone. There’s a rotary dial for the infomedia control, which is much better than just a touchscreen, but there are no associated buttons clustered around it. There’s also a mouse pad over the rotary dial, which can get in the way. And the handbrake release is hidden away down the bottom right of the dash.
One interesting interior feature is the multitude of stalks and other items behind the left hand side of the steering wheel. There’s a stalk for the indicators and wipers; there’s another for the cruise control; there’s the lever to adjust the steering column; and there’s the paddles for changing gear. That’s a lot of items in a small space behind the steering wheel.
In contrast, on the right hand side of the steering column, there’s just the gear selector stalk – which is only in an intuitive place for Mercedes drivers. The start button is also positioned behind the steering wheel.
The official combined economy figure for the C 220 BlueTEC is 65.7mpg, equating to 110g/km CO2. In real-life driving, at motorway speeds, the C-Class returns good economy – we averaged 62.7mpg on motorway runs, which is excellent. Overall, after a week of mixed driving, we averaged an impressive 51.4mpg.
The base price for the C 220 BlueTEC is £32,860. However our car had various options, including the Premium Plus Package (£2,795); leather upholstery (£795); and LED lights (£545) – taking the total price of our test car to £37,820.
You can choose from a variety of C-Class models, including saloons, coupes and estates. There are petrol and diesel engines. There’s even a hybrid.
Most people would be happy to have this C-Class as their own car or their company car. They’ll probably like the badge, the looks, the interior, the comfortable and refined motorway driving experience, and the economy. It feels like a quality product. However if you push it beyond normal limits it becomes slightly out of its comfort zone, with the engine sounding noisy, and the transmission being revvy or slow to respond. Most Mercedes owners will probably never push the car out of its comfort zone, so they’ll be happy with it sitting on their drive. But then there’s the various interior ergonomics issues. And the C-Class isn’t cheap. Overall the Mercedes-Benz C 220 BlueTEC gets a Green-Car-Guide rating of 8 out of 10.