‘I get by with a little help from my friends,’ so the song goes. The same could be said about the latest iteration of Mercedes-Benz most popular car. The C-Class has been given a little help from a friend in the shape of petrol / electric power via a new EQ Boost on-board generator.
The C 200 models – sedan, coupe, estate and cabriolet – feature the latest generation 1.5-litre petrol engine, plus a 48-volt network incorporating a belt driven starter / alternator, as sidekick.
The combination of this and EQ Boost enables additional functions to help improve fuel efficiency – the maker claiming petrol consumption of 6.4 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined urban / highway cycle – while maintaining superior agility and premium comfort of the vehicle.
Other advantages include a gliding mode with the engine switched off and recuperative braking with intelligent engine stopped when the car is coasting.
Mercedes-Benz says the C-Class upgrade includes almost 6500 replacement or modified parts, equating to half the components, many of which were no doubt brought into operation during my time with a C 200 sedan, which comes to market for $72,708, with options, plus on-road costs.
It’s a case of a light pencil touch for the reworked C-Class, with emphasis on the front, including the headlamps which have more clearly defined contours. The same applies to the tail lights.
New-style alloy wheels complete the 2019 picture.
An elegant trim element flows within the cabin and includes the option of new timber veneer such as open-pore brown walnut, or open-pore black ash, the latter in the test vehicle.
Ambient lighting, consisting of 64 colours, is standard for the first time across the whole C-Class range. However, missing from the C 200 is Energizing Comfort Control, a system combining music, temperature, and fragrance to set the cabin mood.
However, C 200 comfort can be addressed by an optional multicontour seat package, featuring automatically inflatable side bolsters and lumbar support, including massage mode on upper models.
Technical innovations taking a front seat across the C-Class include digital instruments incorporating a 12.3-inch display alongside a 10.25-inch media screen, which can be presented in each of three ways – Classic, Sport and Progressive.
The latter features standard smartphone access via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and features the latest generation Comand multimedia system where fitted (in this case an option on C 200).
In encouraging the driver to keep two hands on the wheel, touch-sensitive controls navigate both digital displays using swipe actions as with smartphones.
The test car carried optional Comand ($1769) and Vision ($4846) packages consisting of Burmeister surround sound audio with 13 speakers and 590W output, Traffic Sign Assist, panoramic heat insulating glass roof with sunblind, multibeam LED intelligent light system, 360-degree camera and head-up display with virtual image windscreen.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The latest generation 1.5-litre petrol engine, plus a 48-volt network incorporating a belt driven starter / alternator, add 10 kW to the 135 kW peak power, while EQ Boost enables additional functions to help improve fuel efficiency.
Already with a comprehensive standard list of safety features such as Active Brake Assist with autonomous braking to prevent a collision ahead, Attention Assist, warning the driver of inattentiveness or drowsiness, the C 200 can be optionally fitted with a Driving Assist Package.
This includes Lane Keeping and Blind Spot Assist, Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function, including evasive steering and Pre-Safe Plus, which readies occupants for an imminent crash.
Also standard is Active Parking Assist to automatically park the vehicle in a parallel or end-on space, and leave the spot with the help of Blind Spot Assist and rear cross traffic alert. It’s hard to go past nine airbags too.
The C 200 is no slouch when it comes to getting under way, the EQ Boost lending a hand with acceleration until the turbo spools up – no lag here. The boost also chips in to maintain the engine’s optimum revs during gear changes, cutting shift times for smoother operation.
During slowing down, the starter / alternator takes up kinetic energy, in turn charging the battery. The electric water pump is controlled to adapt to cooling needs.
With the car coasting, the engine is automatically switched off leaving the vehicle to glide over the road. Also when the speed drops below a certain level, the powertrain is uncoupled and the motor cut. Hence fuel savings galore.
In the case of the test car, fuel consumption hovered between 6.5 and 7 litres per 100 kilometres in a series of trips through town and country, with loads varying from a loan commuting driver to four up, plus a boot of picnic gear.
Unlike some start / stop engine systems that recouple with noise, vibration and harshness when the brake is released and the engine fires, in contrast the belt-driven starter / alternator engages the C 200 petrol motor quickly with almost no vibration and noise.
Adaptive suspension across the board, has even the humble entry-level C 200, in Comfort mode, dialling up one of most relaxing rides around, while Sport and Sport+ set-ups harden its heart to suit the most spirited driving.
On the outside, there’s little to announce the arrival of the 2019 C 200. But under the skin, even the humble C-Class entry-level model has the smarts to maintain its popularity with potential premium-car buyers.
AT A GLANCE
Mercedes-Benz C 200 sedan: $63,700
Mercedes-Benz C 220 d sedan: $65,200
Mercedes-Benz C 300 sedan: $71,800
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mercedes-Benz dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Mercedes-Benz C 200 1.5L 4-cylinder turbo-petrol, 9G-Tronic automatic sedan)
Capacity: 1.497 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line, EQ Boost generator
Maximum Power: 135 kW (145 kW with 48 V EQ Boost) @ 6100 rpm
Maximum Torque: 280 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium ULP
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.4 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 145 g / km
DRIVELINE: Nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4686 mm
Wheelbase: 2840 mm
Width: 1810 mm
Height: 1442 mm
Turning Circle: 11.8 metres
Kerb Mass: 2085 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 66 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Three years / unlimited kilometres