Review: Mercedes-Benz C300 (W205) AMG Line – Is there such a thing as too much?Reviews
The reward system is a group within our neural structures that is responsible for incentive salience – a psychological network that forms the want or desire, attaches a hedonic value in response to our interactions and derives positive reinforcement.
The reward forms the motivational property and induces appetite behaviour – meaning to say, rewards breed further liking for more rewards. Perhaps… in this day and age, and this is a personal opinion, we are all commonly thought to strive for what we want, never give up and always stay hungry for more.
The hierarchy and upward mobility within our social factions and associations are scored less now by family name, creed and acts of bravery or charity. These days, our net worth is portrayed by the cachet of property, the cars we drive, clothes we wear and the restaurants we are seen in.
Societal norms in this age of consumption also dictate that monikers emblazoned across the boot lid of our cars are worn like a coat of arms. Alphabets like ST, M, RS and AMG are nothing but random letters until they’re stickered on cars - instantly turning them into superheroes of the roads and etching their way into our subconscious as the objects of our desire.
But is there a point where all this becomes slightly superfluous and redundant?
We tested the W205 C180 recently. And far from rushed patch-job to widen the entry into the C-Class family, I personally loved its comprehensive spec-sheet, frugal yet able power plant and beautiful interior. Yes, there were a number of blanked-off buttons and the odd toggle which still required human actuation – but having an entry-level offering this well-equipped beckoned the question; do we really need much more than this.
Bring on the C300 AMG Line…
- Price: RM307,888
- Engine: 2.0-litre, Inline-4 Longitudinal, Turbocharged, Petrol Direct Injection
- Power: 245hp @ 5,500rpm
- Torque: 370Nm @ 1,300rpm
- Transmission: 7-speed torque converter automatic with paddle shifters, RWD
- Safety: 7-airbags, ABS, ESC, ISOFIX (rear), autonomous emergency braking
- Origin: Locally-assembled at Pekan, Pahang
The C300 AMG Line, barring the full-blown imported C63 AMG, is the most expensive, most powerful locally assembled C-Class ever. The inclusion of the C300 AMG Line now stretches the line-up to five models, starting with the C180 at the other end of the spectrum. The C-Class’ spiritual rival, the BMW 3-Series is currently offered in three flavours. The following table illustrates how Munich and Stuttgart’s stalwarts shape up currently.
Which leaves the C300 which with only one natural rival, the sensational BMW 330i M Sport. Arguably, with similar power figures, the Lexus IS 200t F Sport is alternative, but its stratospheric RM384k price tag puts it out of touch for any cross-shopping, the incoming B9 Audi A4 is a formidable opponent not to be discounted, however.
Powering the C300 is a longitudinally-mounted, direct-injected and turbocharged inline-four utilising variable valve timing to output 245bhp at 5500rpm. Torque numbers are the best-in-class currently with 370Nm at 1300rpm.
The Beemer nips the Merc in terms of power but the C300 puts 20Nm more under your right foot earlier in the rev range which can count for a lot on the daily trot. But as with any purchase of cars of this calibre, there are a quite a few other factors at play.
Coined as the baby S-Class and surely having the props to back it up this time around; it doesn’t take a Bachelor in Modern Art to appreciate the beauty on the W205 C-Class. From bow to stern, it’s a mix of charming style and taut proportions. The AMG bodykit in this guise further adds a touch of agressive character.
The most noticeable difference between the C300 and the rest of the C-Class range is the achingly beautiful 19-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels. Gloss black graces the horizontal surfaces of the rim while a polished metallic sheen lines the spokes. The car also sits 15mm lower than its non-AMG siblings thanks to sports springs – but this setup is also available on the C250 AMG Line variant. Otherwise, the exterior is as we have come to know and admire.
On the inside is where the W205 C-Class simply dusts away the competition. The beauty of the layout is only matched by the combination and finish of the materials. Satin metallic dashboard trim contrasts a lacquer-less centre console; both reflecting and absorbing light to great effect around the cabin. Further light can be introduced into the cabin via the panoramic slide-and-tilt sunroof.
The big addition in the C300 is the inclusion of triple-zone climate control – two-zone up front and one for the rear. And as far as the infotainment system – few systems work better than the combination of the COMAND online touchpad and rotary dial and the 8.4-inch display. Both intuitive and easy to adapt to, beaming exquisite sound quality through the 590 Watt Burmester surround sound system.
The Mark Levinson systems equipped in the Lexus IS and Infiniti Q50 models are a close second; and output better bass sound, but the Burmester kit is the best of all worlds in my opinion.
The column-mounted gear shifter can be considered an enigma or an innovation depending on who you ask; but it definitely takes some getting used to, despite the numerous times I have been behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz.
How does it Drive?
Coming back to the initial argument of when is having too much. We have to isolate the drivetrain and chassis of the C300 into two parts.
Besides the ego-flaunting C300 moniker, the engine certainly has the talent to impress. Just because the torque is delivered so early and in such a manner – throttle response is superb. No longer do you have to plan to overtake cars which might be doing the speed limit, just put your foot down and watch them disappear. I have little doubt, that while the BMW 330i pips the C300 to 100km/h, the C300 will hound it down and eventually pass it. Mid to high speeds is where the C300 truly shines.
The brakes are up to task as well, providing ample stopping force and feel while the in-house Mercedes-Benz 7G-Tronic does it’s bidding for cogs. Rapid deceleration will induce some jerks on the downshifts, but it’s pleasantly quick and surefooted on upshifts.
The chassis, however, can seem a tad overwhelmed. Much of this is due to the 19-inch rims, which is a blessing aesthetically but a drawback dynamically. The thin tyre sidewalls mean there’s very little absorption and majority of the forces are thus transmitted towards the chassis. Most bumps, dips and highway expansion joints will unsettle the rear end leaving you with not much confidence to push the car.
More unsettling is due to the limited amount the suspension travel; the tyres are prone to lifting of the road surface on bigger bumps, once they do come back into contact though, the bombardment of torque towards the rear wheels almost ensures the car will skip around in fury.
Granted, on the smooth surfaces of Sepang, the car should be quick… no doubt, around the roads of Petaling Jaya though, it’s a handful. Which isn’t the case with the less expensive C250 AMG Line, the wheels are an inch smaller and simply exudes better overall composure.
The BMW 330i M Sport is still the pick of the bunch in terms of driving exhilaration, the chassis still manages to be compliant yet scalpel sharp carving through corners, while the composure coming out of corners is second to none.
The steering is a closer comparison, with the C300 providing good amounts of feedback from the front axles, with weightage and quick reaction speed both tractable and adjustable.
How comfortable is it?
The seats are supportive, some might find them a tad stiff, but should soften nicely with time and wear. The seating position is spot-on, both front row seats power adjusted, placing palms in ergonomic contact of the beautifully moulded steering wheel.
Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) is very good barring the aforementioned reactions to road undulations – reverberating thumps into the cabin space, but it’s no deal breaker. The cabin remains serene at part throttle and at normal traffic speeds.
How economical is it?
After 580km of travel, switching between four different drivers over a few days. The C300 returned a respectable 11.8l/100km, a tad off its 6.3l/100km combined economy claims. The 330i M Sport in comparison managed 9.9l/100km on our recent test, but of course, the driving route was different as well.
If the goal is simply to get the newest and most expensive toy – the C300 AMG Line certainly fits the bill. It’s got oodles of pizzazz and street presence, an impeccable interior and a ferocious power plant.
Down to brass tacks, though, it’s hard to isolate its appeal of the C300 when the C250 AMG Line is as well-equipped, more comfortable and as quick as you need it to be 90 percent of the time. For that matter, buying a C180 also means that one does not need to break the bank to enjoy the brand prestige and the most important bits that make the W205 such a sterling machine.
If the goal is simply to go fast, the unanimous advice remains to go for the BMW 330i M Sport… but for the most part, if you love the new C-Class, the C250 AMG Line remains the pick of the bunch.
Perhaps sometimes, there is such a thing as too much…