Following its debut at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz’s refreshed C-Class range now has now gone on sale in Europe – available in sedan, wagon, coupe and convertible body types. At a glance, the new facelifted model looks almost identical to the pre-facelift model, as most of the changes are hidden beneath the metal panels.
Visual cues for the facelifted model are quite hard to spot, but squint your eyes hard enough and you will notice a slightly different pair of bumpers front and rear. On AMG line models, the bumper slits for the rear reflectors are now more prominent while front air dam now features a pair of slits at the sides.
Inside the cabin, some variants will get a larger 12.3-inch LCD display that runs across the C-Class’ signature twin binnacle instrument cluster, while the steering wheel has also been changed. The free-standing infotainment screen has also been enlarged to 10.25-inch, and now displays in 16:9 format.
Other optional features (in Europe) include MultiBeam LED headlamps, Active Steering Assist, Active Distance Control Distronic, seats with individually adjustable side bolsters and lumbar support with massaging function, and a climate control that emits fragrance.
The highlight of the new C-Class is its powertrain, now updated with a micro-hybrid 48 V belt-starter alternator that provides the engine with an additional 13 hp of boost when accelerating. Mercedes-Benz brands this setup as EQ Boost, which sits one rung below the EQ Power-badged plug-in hybrid models like the C350e and E350e.
With the benefit of having access to temporary electric boost, the new C-Class’ engine is now smaller and makes less torque for improved emissions and fuel consumption.
The pre-facelift C200’s 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder makes 184 hp at 5,500 rpm and 300 Nm from 1,200 – 4,000 rpm. The new C200 however, has a smaller 1.5-litre capacity. The turbocharger’s boost have been cranked up to make the same 184 hp, but at a higher 5,800 – 6,100 rpm. Torque has been reduced to 280 Nm, achieved at a much higher 3,000 – 4,000 rpm.
On paper, it means that the smaller engine needs to work a lot harder to achieve the same output as before but this is mitigated by adding the EQ Boost’s belt-driven starter motor, which adds 10 kW (13 hp) of boost for acceleration and 12 kW of recuperation energy when the vehicle is coasting.
The nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic transmission remains unchanged.
Acceleration from 0-100 km/h is slightly poorer now (7.7 seconds versus 7.5 seconds). The pre-facelift model’s fuel consumption is rated at 5.3-litre/100 km while the new model is rated at 6.0 – 6.3-litre/100 km (depending on body type), but the discrepancy is due to different test methodologies.
The figures for the new model is higher because European car makers now have to comply to a more stringent WLTP (World Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure) emissions test cycle, which is said to be more reflective of real-world driving conditions so the two figures are not comparable.
As our local C200 models are locally-assembled at Mercedes-Benz Malaysia’s facility in Pekan, Pahang, it is unclear if the forthcoming Malaysian market C200 facelift will also feature a smaller 1.5-litre engine but if you are to ask us, our advice will be to buy the current C200 for its bigger engine.
Globally, punitive legislations in many parts of the world, especially Europe and China, is forcing the automotive industry to trend towards smaller engines with various levels of electrification. The move by Daimler is not surprising and we can only expect other European car makers to follow suit.