In February of this year, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia launched the W206 C-Class C200 Avantgarde in CBU form with a local assembly planned for the second half of the year - and it is GAME OVER for its competitors!
If you're in the market for a sub-RM300k compact executive sedan, here's my TL;DR: You only have two options. The C200 or Volvo S60 Recharge.
If, however, you're a fan of the written word and you'd like a little more information on the C200, let's begin with the,
Being a person and driver more accustomed to tactile switches and knobs I was always a little reluctant to test drive any of the new generation of Mercedes-Benzes. It felt a very foreign experience to me, almost alien. A little bit daunting if you will but what I did not expect to find was how easy I adapted and even became comfortable with it.
Both the 12.3-inch free-standing instrument panel and 11.9-inch central display were relatively simple to come to grips with. It was very intuitive and driver-centric.
Flick the gear stalk down into D, disengage the electric parking brake and you're off!
Power delivery is linear from the 1.5-litre four-cylinder powerplant, offering up 204 PS at 5,800 to 6,100 RPM and 300 Nm of torque from 1,800 to 4,000 RPM. The ISG works quite imperceptibly in the background with the engine's stop and start, providing you that additional boost when required plus making sure power delivery remains linear throughout the torque curve.
Put it in Sport mode and don't blink as the speedometer climbs to three digits and beyond in about 8 seconds. It's no record-breaking time but it does feel proper swift from the cabin.
More often than not though, I was content to amble along in Comfort mode with the ride quality firm but not invasive. The Agility Control setup is composed, not getting unsettled over large bumps or potholes. It is more than adequate/ comfortable for the city and highway.
Its happy spot is when you're just cruising along, enjoying the C200 for what it is, a compact executive sedan. Don't rush it and you'll enjoy the cosseting cabin, with wind roar kept to a minimum at highway speeds so you and your family can enjoy your experience in the car whether for long or short trips.
Avant-garde describes experimental or innovative art or design (based on dictionary.com) and while an appreciation of art is lost on the likes of me, I can verily agree that the C200 is one very good-looking sedan, dare I say the best available in Malaysia currently in its segment? Hmm...
By nature, I am more drawn toward angular lines, and a chiseled exterior but the design language of the all-new C-Class while being quite the complete opposite of that, definitely drew me in. I begin to appreciate how it flows from nose to rear with an understated elegance whilst also having enough road presence to attract stares from other road users. She's a classy dame this C200 and this might be a function of age but she was a dame that I learned to appreciate, it was no love at sight but more love as you age along together.
You'll have to go see the 2022 C200 in the metal to better appreciate how pretty it is but here are some photos that hopefully manages to capture some of its essence.
If the exterior of the 2022 C200 is understated elegance then the interior is sublime opulence. When you step inside the W206 is when you realise how much its Bavarian neighbour pales in comparison.
The plush leather comfort front seats (powered) finished in brown gripped my 173cm frame in all the right places. The 4-way lumbar support, as well as thigh support, meant that I was always comfortable, and never fatigued even after long stretches in the car.
Even in the rear, with one baby car seat and child seat, there was more than enough space that it never felt cramped nor invaded the comfort of the driver and front passenger.
And with 455 litres of boot space, a week worth's of family shopping fits with plenty of room to spare. You can even add the collapsible stroller in and not bat an eyelid.
If you're a young family of four, the cabin of the W206 is unparalleled. The S60 Recharge comes close but my gripe with the S60 is the low ingress point which means that you're falling into the seat rather than sliding in.
The W206 C200 is also specified with the Mercedes-Benz User Experience or MBUX infotainment system. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also supported. Hooking up to the system was seamless, and within minutes I was listening to my favourite music with my navigation clearly on display across the expansive 11.9-inch portrait-oriented driver-oriented central touchscreen.
The best part was regardless of how harsh the sunlight was that permeated into the cabin, you could still see and read the screen, glare was hardly an issue.
Learning your way through the menu options was also quite easy, spend 15 minutes (even when you're more of an analog person like I am) in the car fiddling with the functions on the touchscreen and you should be well enough oriented to at least know where key functions reside.
It's mostly great this W206 in C200 Avantgarde trim but it would be remiss of me not to point out one glaring design annoyance I found. In what appears to be an attempt to house the proximity sensors on the C200, Mercedes-Benz elected to cover the outer portion of the air intake up but leave the insides exposed. Why not just cover the whole thing up?
You could also argue that the feel of some of the touch surfaces is a little finicky/ plasticky but that's a matter of personal taste. I didn't have really an issue with them but how it holds up over time is a question for the ages.
The Artico faux leather adorning the upper half of a new split upper and lower dashboard was supple and smooth to the touch. Very atas!
The newly-designed air-conditioning vents reminiscent of aircraft engine nacelles were quite a marvel to appreciate especially at night when the ambient lighting of the car comes alive.
I also find myself drawn to describe how tactile the automatic window levers felt to the touch and operation. It's hard to put into words really how satisfying it was to operate those levers, I've never quite felt that same satisfaction across any other vehicle I've had the privilege to review. An odd thing to point out perhaps but...
The Mercedes-Benz C200 Avantgarde is a well-built, premium compact executive sedan that will tick all the boxes and then some for a weekday car. See how I said weekday because the C200 is the quintessential do-it-all car you need for the weekday runs, with the prestige of a German three-pointed star on the hood and all the luxury that carries with it. It does not pretend to be more than it is which is a good thing.
You might also consider the S60 Recharge that will now come with a new PHEV powertrain for a longer range and more power (pricing for the new PHEV powertrain has yet to be revealed by Volvo Car Malaysia) but the current S60 Recharge retails for RM283k. Should you though?