The Mercedes-Benz C 200 is a good-value and rather popular entry point to the world of luxury motoring.
Report: Greg Hill
Australia’s medium car category changed dramatically a few years ago when the luxury-focused Mercedes-Benz C-Class emerged as the sector’s second-highest-selling model, behind only Toyota Camry and with sales figures that would make many mainstream brands envious. With an all-new model in late 2014, the C 200 petrol sedan not only became the top-seller in the C-Class range, it’s also the brand’s overall sales leader, and the higher output C 250 is not far behind.
On the used market, these cars are now emerging in enough numbers for you to shop around to find the right one. A late-model C 200 isn’t cheap but it’s still a value-for-money entree into the world of luxury cars.
Although it’s an entry-level model, there is still a luxury focus in the C 200’s appearance, cabin presentation and standard features list. Safety levels are top class with a host of passive and active features including nine airbags, autonomous emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring. Later versions get a few extra standard features. When comparing cars, check the equipment level in each, because Mercedes offers many options on top of the standard features list, and these should add to the appeal and value. Also make sure these features work properly, as repairs can be expensive.
This model is a little bigger than the previous version and for a mid-size sedan provides relatively good space and comfort to accommodate four adults, or five at a squeeze. Mercedes is on track with its choice trim materials and build quality, but some of the controls, such as the column-mounted gear selector and a few buttons, are awkward to use.
The C-Class sedan’s traditional front engine/rear-wheel-drive layout delivers a well-balanced, easy-to-drive experience. Performance from the C 200’s direct-injection, turbo-charged petrol engine and seven-speed automatic is refined and well suited to everyday driving. Maximum power is a useful 135kW, but it’s the turbo engine’s strong 300Nm of torque arriving at a low 1200rpm and maintained through to 4000rpm that provides excellent flexibility. Drivers can also dial in their preferred performance and dynamic characteristics through the five-mode drive selector. Fuel consumption ranges from around 6.0L/100km on the highway to 9.0L/100km in traffic.
For those wanting a more responsive drive, the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine was further developed for the C 250 and produces 155kW and 350Nm, but it tends to use about 0.5-1.0L/100km more fuel than the C 200. Both engines require 95-RON petrol.
Rough at times
The handling and ride display typical German precision and efficiency, with well-weighted steering, surefooted handling and a comfortably firm ride, particularly around town. But at times it’s not quite as soft-riding and plush as some might expect in a luxury car.
The C-Class range also includes diesel and hybrid models, as well as coupe, convertible and wagon body configurations, but these are not plentiful on the used market. A significant upgrade, which included changes to the engine, transmission, spec levels and model range, was made in July 2017.
Known problem areas
Even with the Mercedes reputation for engineering excellence, parts still wear and a lack of servicing can cause problems, so a thorough mechanical inspection is important. Parts and servicing of prestige models is more expensive than the average car, and when the budget gets tight corners are sometimes cut. Therefore up-to-date service records, with work preferably done by a Mercedes specialist, are an important asset. The automatic transmission requires servicing every 100,000 kilometres. Check for signs of major accident damage and poor-quality repairs.
Mercedes uses run-flat tyres, the tyre size is different front to rear and the C 200 does not carry a spare wheel, although one is available as an extra-cost option. Tyre wear can be an issue and they are relatively expensive to replace.
Like most cars, the C-Class has been the subject of a few recalls, so it is worth checking with a Mercedes dealer to see if all the required updates have been done to the car you’d like to buy.
Finally, the C 200’s maximum towing capacity is a respectable 1800 kilograms but the maximum ball load is only 75 kilograms.
Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE
C 200 (2014-2018): $38,500-$55,900
C 250 (2014-2017): $43,500-$59,100
Prices are for a four-door automatic petrol sedan.