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Driven: Mercedes-Benz C 250 BlueTec AMG Line. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

Driven: Mercedes-Benz C 250 BlueTec AMG Line
Mercedes' new C-Class is tested in powerful diesel format and AMG Line trim on UK roads - is it class leader?

 



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Mercedes-Benz C 250 BlueTec AMG Line

4 4 4 4 4

Good points: interior, largely successful exterior, reasonably priced, quiet, strong performance and economy

Not so good: AMG Line trim looks good but spoils ride, engine a little noisy, anodyne chassis

Key Facts

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz C 250 BlueTec AMG Line
Pricing: 35,510 basic; 36,155 as tested
Engine: 2.1-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: 7G-Tronic Plus seven-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: four-door saloon
Rivals: Audi A4 2.0 TDI, BMW 325d, Lexus IS 300h
CO2 emissions: 113g/km
Combined economy: 65.7mpg
Top speed: 153mph
0-62mph: 6.6 seconds
Power: 204hp at 3,800rpm
Torque: 500Nm from 1,600- to 1,800rpm

Our view:

Having recently tried the impressive Mercedes-Benz C 300 BlueTec Hybrid, time with the most powerful conventional diesel model in the C-Class launch range appealed, albeit with a caveat - we hoped it wouldn't be an AMG Line. However, our C 250 was indeed finished in the 'sporty' trim, which rather beggars the car's design brief; namely, to not try and drive like its perennial rival, the BMW 3 Series. Mercedes wants the C-Class to be the choice for those seeking comfort over dynamic acuity.

So, to start with a minor gripe, we'd avoid the AMG Line trim. It makes the car look great outside and, to an extent, in, but on 18-inch AMG alloys with 45- and 40-profile tyres front and back, the ride is always just a gnat's on the side of firm. This would be acceptable if the C 250 really lit your fire when you stoked it up and hammered along your favourite road, but it doesn't. The car is perfectly competent, with plenty of grip and excellent body control, yet the steering is weighty but not feelsome, there's not a lot of feedback coming through the seat from the chassis and - as a diesel - it of course never sounds scintillating. In fact the old 2.1 can be pretty noisy at times, and not in a good way.

All of this takes the shine off what is otherwise a really excellent car. The interior, for instance, is marvellous. It looks superb no matter where your eyes come to rest, with every surface feeling of supreme quality when you reach out to touch them. The displays in the dashboard are crisp and clean, the screen centre top of the dashboard looks a bit more integrated and a little less aftermarket than it does in other Mercs, while there's plenty of passenger and boot space. There are some odd ergonomics - the heated seat buttons on our car were floating alone on the door cards for instance, while Mercedes loves its column-mounted shifters at the moment. We kind of prefer the transmission lever to be on the transmission tunnel; maybe Mercedes' insistence on the column item is a sop to the Americans. Further foibles are the oddly-shaped 'Comand' controller and too many stalks in close proximity on the left-hand side of the steering wheel, but you soon get to grips with the Merc's particular cabin layout.

We like the exterior too, but whichever trim you opt for on your C-Class, the one detail that doesn't sit well on the saloon is the way the rear window merges into the boot. Something about it doesn't look correct proportionally. For that reason, we'd opt for the estate, which is simply a glorious wagon no matter your vantage point. Either C-Class body style is a clever piece of design, though, because they remain handsome and expensive-looking in lowlier trim levels and on smaller rims.

While the 2.1-litre engine is sounding its age, certainly when compared to rival diesel units, there are no complaints about the C 250's straight-line go. With 204hp and 500Nm, it feels every bit as quick as its quoted performance stats. There's a lovely spread of torque, despite that peak figure arriving in just a 200rpm-wide band, and the 7G-Tronic auto - while slow-witted for spirited driving - is silky smooth and well-matched to the engine. Apart from the firm AMG Line ride, there's very little to fault about the Mercedes as a day-to-day driver.

Another area of excellence is the economy, with the car returning around 56mpg without ever really doing any motorway or dual carriageway work. While it's a little short of the official combined figure, that quoted 65.7mpg doesn't look as far-fetched as some other NEDC numbers we've been fed in recent years. And, unbelievably for a German car, it's very well specified at a reasonable price. Our C 250 had just one option, metallic paint at 645, so everything else - the satnav, the leather sports seats, the DAB radio and audio system, the automatic transmission, Speedtronic adaptive cruise control and plenty more comes as standard on the AMG Line. So you have to balance toys against a rigid ride if you're going to buy this top trim level.

Our advice on the C-Class would be to pick either a Sport, on 17-inch wheels, or even an SE on its 16s and then opt for an estate. That way, you'd get to enjoy the C-Class' serenity without sacrificing the ride comfort. Not only that, but an SE would save you 3,490 over this AMG Line, meaning you could lob in a bit of extra kit and have a truly classy executive machine. We really like the new C-Class; we're sure we'll like it even more when the three hallowed letters get properly applied to its rump for the forthcoming Mercedes-AMG C 63. Until then, don't bother getting a sporty C and you'll be a very happy Mercedes owner.

Alternatives:

Audi A4: the C 250 falls between two A4 stools - 2.0-litre TDI is cheaper in S line trim with an S-Tronic gearbox and quattro drive, but makes 177hp and is a long way short of the Merc's economy and emissions figures.

BMW 3 Series: more powerful, more entertaining to drive, not far off the Merc's eco figures - M Sport v AMG Line and we'd pick the BMW. Go for less sporting models and the C-Class' smoother ride might tip the balance.

Lexus IS 300h: down on power and it can't quite match the Merc's economy, although it is marginally better on emissions. F Sport trim pushes price very close to C 250 AMG Line and the Lexus is not quite as polished.


Matt Robinson - 23 Jan 2015









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2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 






 

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