What is it?
This is the facelift of the latest generation Mercedes C-Class. But as you can tell from its aggressive front bumper and those gorgeous wheels, this is no ordinary C. It has an AMG in its name.
Okay, in the interest of honesty, this one isn’t of the pop and crackle variety. And it doesn’t do the ‘disappearing in a cloud of smoke’ trick all that well either. So yes, it isn’t a ‘proper’ AMG in that sense.
What’s more, this one is a diesel. But thankfully it is a potent one. One with nearly 250bhp and an outstanding 500Nm of peak torque. No wonder Mercedes claims a sub-six-second 0-100kmph time for this one.
How is it on the inside?
As we mentioned earlier, the C300d is the facelifted version. And that means, apart from the head and tail lamps on the outside, it gets some new and feel-good bits on the inside too.
The steering, for starters, is new. And it gets touchpads on the steering spokes to operate the extremely detailed driver information system and the new multimedia system. These touchpads don’t just look good, these function well too.
The screen is new too. It still doesn’t have touchscreen functionality, but it is a high-resolution one. It is part of the Mercedes COMAND system, which allows the driver to access car-related settings from driving modes to climate control to mood lighting. It gives out service-related info as well. And for the geeky ones amongst us, there’s info on the amount of power and torque one uses at a given instance, as well as the amount of acceleration and braking being used. Rounding up the new bits is the wood finish on the centre console. It’s what Mercedes calls porus wood because it isn’t varnished.
The rest of the cabin is mostly unchanged. It still has super comfy seats, front and back; a great quality cabin with crisp operability all round; and features by the page load. The latter includes a multifunctional steering wheel that is electrically adjustable for reach and rake, electrically powered front seats that are 12-way adjustable, dual-zone climate control system with rear AC vents, electric sunblind for the rear, and cup and bottle holders for occupants on all corners.
The C300d is loaded with tech too. Apart from the regular safety kit - many airbags, ABS and stability program - the 300d also get an auto parking brake, cruise control, auto wipers and headlamps, auto-dimming mirrors, and enough smartness to tell if the driver needs to take a break of not! There are driving modes too - Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Individual. The latter is for those who can’t stand presets.
How does it drive?
Now, the C300d might have AMG in its name - and it has potent output figures, no question - but, it still isn’t as mad as AMGs go. Plus, all the sense of occasion that the popping and crackling of an AMG exhaust brings, is conspicuous by its absence on the 300d.
But it is a lovely car to drive. Toggle to Comfort mode, and the light but quick and precise steering, the adequately alert throttle response, and the seamless gear changes, make the C300d both easy and enjoyable to drive. Plus the visibility, particularly at the front, courtesy the not-so-fat A-pillars and a low set dashboard, is fantastic. It is remarkably effortless and relaxing to drive on your daily commute.
And when you take it on the highway, with all that torque and a 9-speed automatic, the C300d sits at 100kmph as if the engine were just idling. Even the straight line stability is outstanding. Unless you look at the speedometer, you wouldn’t be able to tell that you are doing three digit speeds. That’s how quiet and unhurried and easygoing the C300d feels.
But, it’s no slouch around corners either. It does have AMG in its name, after all. Shift to Sport+ mode and the steering weighs up a bit. The throttle response feels more alert. And the gearbox holds each gear for a bit longer to give the driver a stronger and more instant drive out of corners.
But, it’s the light-footedness of this C around corners that took us by surprise. It’s like a boxer - nimble, alert and quick - in the way it changes direction. There’s no hesitation or delay. And no matter how hard you fire it into a corner - wet roads or not - it always seems to find grip. And it is amazingly neutral in its handling balance. There’s just no understeer to be found! Plus, the harder you drive it through a set of corners, the wider the smile it returns.
The only real negative when it comes to C300d’s drive is the ride quality. At slow speeds and over small bumps and ditches, the C feels fine. It also rides flat over undulating roads. But, over something more pronounced - squared out bumps or potholes, or even larger road joints or broken tarmac patches - the 300d can feel crashy. Its ride can get noisy and thumpy; something that one doesn’t expect from, what is otherwise, a pampering car to be transported in.
Should I buy one?
The Mercedes C300d AMG Line retails for nearly Rs 60 lakhs on the road in Mumbai. So it isn’t exactly mouth-wateringly tempting. But it is the most powerful diesel C-Class one can buy in the country. And apart from a slightly lumpy ride and an engine that gets noisy when you dial up the revs, there’s nothing not to like.
Where does it fit in?
The C300d competes against the likes of the BMW 3-Series and the Audi A4. More precisely, that would be the 320d Luxury Line in the case of BMW, which costs five lakhs less. But then the BMW doesn’t pack in as much firepower either. The A4 that goes head-to-head against this particular C, is the 35 TDI Technology trim. It is easier on the wallet by rupees two lakhs approximately, but in terms of output figures, it is almost identical to the 3-Series.
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi