Even after being 3 years old already, the C-Class's interior is still every bit as fresh and new as before. The ergonomics is top notch with the perfect placement of all the controls and the feel of great quality. One thing I noticed that I didn't realize before was the rather stiff nature of the seats, but thats really a matter of preference. Not much has changed over the C200K we tested earlier; the only thing even remotely noticeable being the removal of the stability control button from the center console, the function having been integrated into the onboard computer and multi-info display.
I've driven many versions of the W204 C-Class from the lowly (if you can call it that) C180 to the ever-so-fun C350 AMG Sport. However, my overall favorite was always the C200 Kompressor Avantgarde, which, with its balance of efficiency, power and handling, was a tough act to beat... until I got my hands on the C200 CGI version.
It's still the same 1.8 liter, inline four engine under that bonnet, but the main difference is that it's now turbocharged, signifying that Mercedes had finally dropped the supercharger of old. CGI stands for Compressed Gasoline Injection and I thought I would never say this, but what an improvement it is over the C200K. At low revs, the car is supremely efficient, clocking in 11.2 kilometers per liter in moderate city traffic, while on highway speeds at an average speed of 100 km/h, it posted 16.2 kilometers per liter. Impressive.
Efficient as it may be, it wouldn't really be my thing if it can't perform as I think it should. And again, the C-Class does. The new engine is very capable indeed, generating 184 PS and 270 newton meters of torque, with the peak power coming in at 5250 rpm and peak torque at 2800 rpm all the way to 4600 rpm. It doesn't sound like much, but it's just the right amount of power and torque for the C-Class's body, allowing the W204 to hit 100 km/h from a standstill in 9 seconds. Matched with it is a 5-speed automatic transmission with 3 modes: Comfort, Sport or Tippshift manual mode.
Out of the highway and on to the switchbacks, the C200 is once again ready to strut its stuff. A few years ago, Mercedes gave us a taste of what the (then) new C-Class has to offer in the C for Yourself test drive in Clark, and it was pretty unanimous: the C-Class was taking the fight right to the 3-Series. In the mountains, the C truly shines, with the Agility Control selective damping system improving handling when you want it, and up here that's exactly what I want. Body control is definitely a great thing to have up here, though having just 184 horsepower does leave you a bit wanting on the uphill.
Down from the mountains, the Agility Control system allows the C-Class to relax a bit, making it more comfortable at casual speeds. I like the way the audio system has been integrated into the COMAND system as well, along with the Bluetooth handsfree kit among other things.
It's hard to always stay on top of the game but the new C-Class, equipped with the CGI engine, is doing just that.