Whenever a tri-star badged vehicle is brought into a discussion about cars it's usually preceded by its reputation. You say Mercedes-Benz, you say comfort and safety. Well, as it turns out, even though it managed to impress us with a level of comfort very hard to find at this level, believe it or not, the C 200 CGI is also a sporty little bugger.
Of course, it can't stand a chance against a 3-Series in the curves, but it can pose quite a threat to the more mellow (but still dynamic) Audi A4. We know because we drove all three in pretty much similar conditions and with them having somewhat similar performance, and the surprising conclusion is that the Audi isn't exactly a compromise between BMW and Mercedes. We found the C 200 CGI to be more comfortable than both of its number one competitors, while it only loses to BMW in terms of sportiness in the curves.
The "Sport" button for the gearbox software slightly improves the shifting times but it mainly improves the transmission's kick-down response, letting the engine rev through the roof whenever needed. Plus, even though it's obviously comfort-oriented, the rear-wheel drive, the high torque figures and the surprisingly direct steering can provide quite a bit of fun on the twisties.
As far as the long-distance comfort goes, the C-Klasse is probably the best in class, followed closely by the Audi A4. We did have to get accustomed to the high positioning of the cruise control lever, as with almost every other Mercedes, but despite this it's also probably the easiest to use of the bunch of vehicles we've tested so far. The designated speed is just a flick and a push of the lever away, unlike the multiple button pushing we found in other cars.
The suspension, though missing the "Agility Control" optional package, with the electronically controlled dampers, is close to perfection when it comes to a sporty/comfortable compromise. The accent is obviously put on comfort in its setup, but it doesn't say a full "no" to dynamic driving either.
By far the best open road feature our car was fitted with was the Intelligent Lighting System, which makes the bi-xenon headlights not only swivel around corners but also change their intensity depending on the headlights of other cars and weather conditions.
As far as the fuel consumption goes, by using the cruise control and staying just at the legal speed limit on the highway, we managed the impossible and again fell under the official fuel consumption numbers. Instead of achieving the official 5.5 liters per 100 km (US 42.8 mpg) or more, we managed to achieve 5.4 liters (US 43.6 mpg). Obviously, when driven with a heavier right foot, the fuel economy can worsen dramatically, with the onboard computer showing as much as 9 liters per 100 km (US 26.1 mpg) at some points during our "dynamic part" of the test drive outside the city.Continue reading
Hold on, Mary would like to say something...
I have to say I wasn't much of a fan of Mercedes-Benz until I drove this C-Klasse. Except for the little SLK and the SL, most of their models looked a bit "meh" for me. Plus, I always thought most of their clients were either young drug dealers or old pervert business men. I dig neither category, so sorry if I'm disappointing anyone.
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