Aston Martin is celebrating its 100th anniversary with the CC100 – but it’s not the first to do this…
Mercedes-Benz C-Class review (2011 onwards)
What - Mercedes-Benz C-Class (facelift)
Where - Tenerife
Date - March 2011
Price - £25,515-£33,265 (saloon) £26,715-£34,480 (estate)
Available - Now
Key rivals - BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Infiniti G, Lexus IS
Summary - Subtle facelift for the already brilliant C-Class hides even more significant engine and spec upgrades
We like - Subtly updated looks, seven-speed auto now available on all models, drip-down of safety tech from further up in the range, ride and handling, supremely relaxed and refined
We don't like - People wrongly thinking the 3 Series drives better, the good stuff is on the options list, do we really need all this extra driver assist stuff or should we just look where we're going?
The current C-Class has been on sale since 2007 and has been a huge success for Mercedes, selling a staggering 1.25 million units. Time stands still for nobody though and four years into its life it's facelift time for the C-Class.
Mercedes claims 2,000 new components and what it describes as the most exhaustive revision of any mid-life refresh in the company's history. Will you notice? You may notice that the lights are slightly different and Benz spotters may twig the revised grille and front bumper.
Still no? Try the interior, which receives an extensive upgrade with a new integral screen replacing the pop-up unit of the outgoing car and a further improvement in quality. There's much more under the skin too, including safety tech from the E- and S-Class.
Engines were upgraded on the C-Class range a year ago and these are unchanged but for the first time Mercedes' seven-speed 7G-Tronic gearbox will be available on four-cylinder models too. Prices have climbed a tad, the entry level (and bestselling) C180 CGI now £25,515, up from £25,075.
Mercedes has confirmed a revised version of the 457hp C63 AMG will continue post facelift, but this launch was all about the 'civilian' range that makes up the core of sales. AMGs are all very well but nearly a third of C-Class saloons are C180 petrols.
As of last year the four-cylinder petrols are all direct-injection, turbo units bearing Mercedes' BlueEfficiency eco branding. The 180 and 250 all use the same basic 1.8-litre block with, respectively, 156hp and 204hp.
Mercs are always better as automatics and the good news is 7G-Tronic is now the default auto option, albeit a pricey one at £1,250. It's a slick unit though, a big step up from the previous five-speed and worth the investment.
Following the petrol lead, there are three diesel options - 200, 220 and 250 CDI - based on the same gruff but grunty 2.1-litre engine. Until the V6s arrive later in the year the grunty, twin-turbo 250 CDI is the most powerful unit in the lineup.
Ride and handling
This generation C-Class marked the point the compact Mercedes finally had its BMW 3 Series arch rival licked in terms of ride, handling and driving pleasure, even if the general market perception hasn't quite caught up with the idea.
There's a fluidity and flow about the way the C-Class drives that even the BMW can't quite match, the Mercedes seemingly as solid and refined as an S-Class on the motorway but balanced, chuckable and composed on twisty back roads too.
Wisely Mercedes hasn't tampered a great deal with the chassis, the clever Agility Control dampers that self-adjust mechanically (rather than with computer intervention) to vary the damping according to the loads on the chassis as before.
Standard SE uses 16-inch wheels, Elegance (+£1,295) 17s and the Sport (a further £1,700) 18-inch AMG rims together with a more driver-focused package of sports suspension, speed sensitive steering and uprated brakes.
Mercedes' Comand wheel is still up there as the best of the infotainment interfaces compared with Audi and BMW's efforts. All the systems need learning but the C-Class system is the best for minimising your time looking away from the road ahead.
Uprated displays and streamlined web content that works as a neatly integrated add-on to the sat-nav through your phone will be popular with those who need to work on the move, cementing the C-Class as the pick of the company car list.
Economy and safety
The major innovations from Mercedes BlueEfficiency catalogue of eco features have already been introduced to the C-Class range but the arrival of 7G-Tronic and range-wide start-stop further improves the C-Class's already credible eco performance.
The most efficient/tax friendly/tree hugging (delete as appropriate) model in the range is now the C220 CDI BlueEfficiency with a manual gearbox. It'll do 117g/km and 64.2mpg, a further improvement from the 127g/km and 57.6mpg of the pre-facelift equivalent.
This can't quite match the 109g/km and 68.9mpg of the BMW 320d EfficientDynamics but is still a credible performance and heads up similar improvements across the range. Safety, meanwhile, gets a big boost.
Mercedes calls it the 'democratisation of high tech' which, in reality, means the option (read, additional cost) of various support systems to guard against any inadequacies you may have about being able to stop, look before you change lane, dip your own headlights or suchlike.
The MSN Cars verdict
For all the puff about the game-changing upgrades in reality the C-Class facelift polishes an already very accomplished product to an even more satisfying shine. Put simply, the C-Class is a car you would never regret choosing.
Indeed, we'd go further and say it's comfortably the best compact executive car in its class with a pleasing combination of traditional Mercedes maturity and more youthful verve. Lovely to drive and built to last this is a quality product, honed further.
|Need to know|
|Engines, petrol||1.6 4-cyl (two versions), 1.6 4-cyl turbo|
|Engines, diesel||2.1-litre 4-cyl turbo (three versions)|
|Torque, lb ft||184-369|
|0-62 mph, secs||9.0-7.1|
|Top speed, mph||129-149|
|CO2, tax||169g/km, 22% - 117g/km, 13% (estate 124g/km, 18% - 176g/km, 24%)|
|Ratings||Mercedes-Benz C250 CDI|
|Ride & handling||*****|
|MSN Cars verdict||****|
Read another Mercedes review on MSN Cars
related stories on msn
Latest Cars videos
MSN Cars' Steve Walker takes the UK's cheapest new car for a test drive to see if it's worth parting only £5,995 for.
Date 12 hrs ago, Duration 4:17, Views 237