For the foreseeable future, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia’s (MBM) grip on the balls of the premium segment here don’t show any signs of waning. Sales continues to skyrocket quarter over quarter and much of that can be attributed to the relentless updates that are made available here just as swiftly.
The W205 C-Class is a heavy-hitter amongst its bread and butter models, really pulling its weight in helping them breach the 10,000 units mark this year in the same time it takes to conceive and deliver a baby. That’s all the catalyst needed to keep the meat and potatoes of the model as updated as possible.
An exemplar of this would be the refresh for the C200, C250 and C43 AMG trims although you’d be forgiven if your magnifying glass didn’t pick up anything new on the outside. You see, Mercedes-Benz is one of the few carmakers that makes its own transmissions; a dying breed, but also the primary upgrade here.
You’ll find the C200, C250 and C43 AMG trims of the W205 C-Class now having an extra couple of gears within the transmission. The 9G-Tronic takes the helm from the equally creatively named 7G-Tronic that wears the crown as the first automatic seven-speeder in the world.
The new nine-speeder is developed and made internally. It’ll continue to roll the cogs for the C-Class in the following facelift next month that will see the C200 switch to a 1.5-litre turbo in the name of efficiency and weight reduction because where we keep our stuff needs to be preserved.
That said, this C200 here is; in a way, obsolete. Your coins will be useless if you walk into a Mercedes-Benz Malaysia dealer here and try to purchase a brand spanking new one. They’re simply not selling anymore seeing that the facelift will be here in a fortnight.
If your dear heart so needs an inline-four C200, you could try the pre-owned programme.
Nonetheless, the C200 AMG Line graces our pages as the instinctive safe choice in its segment. Looking for a premium sedan? It’s a toss-up between the C or BMW’s 3. As things are though, the safe choice is the alpha in that alphanumeric clash.
Granted, most view being the default choice as “playing it safe.” The way MBM provides a full-life-cycle ownership experience that simplifies upgrading to a newer model in the first few years with a guaranteed buy-back price, it’s hard to argue against.
The C positions itself as the best all-rounder with a balanced combination of fluidic design, quality craftmanship, ample performance and pampering comfort. Much of that has been amplified with the new transmission that we’ll touch on a few paras on.
Being an AMG Line, it gets more aggressive bumpers with more pronounced side skirts and 18-inch five-spoke AMG wheels. The brakes get bumped up to larger calipers up front and cross-drilled rotors. Most importantly however is the sports suspension that drops the car by 15mm. Inside, there’s a flat-bottomed steering with paddle shifters and sports seats.
Interestingly, the highest trim of the garden variety C-Class does without the sport suspension; an acknowledgement of MBM towards its traditional customer base from the older demographic.
Although there’s the C250 and C350e above it, the C200 isn’t without the bells and whistles. You get LED High Performance headlights but not the LED Intelligent system with Adaptive Highbeam Assist, dual-zone climate control, roller blinds for the rear windows and rear windscreen, dark grey ash trim, Audio 20 CD infotainment system with a 7.0-inch centre screen, reverse camera and Parking Pilot.
Equipment wise, the biggest quibble is the inclusion of a push-start but not keyless entry. It’s quite pointless to remove the key to enter the vehicle but not need it for starting. Common sense dictates that they should be a package deal.
Now although it carries two extra ratios, the 9G-Tronic is in fact lighter than the 7G-Tronic Plus. The use of aluminium for the torque converter housing and magnesium alloy for the transmission housing.
Power comes from the outgoing M274 2.0-litre turbo four that’s good for 184hp and 300Nm of torque. All those ratios help it sprint to the century mark in 7.2-seconds and onto 237kph.
Just a change of transmission is enough to alter the characteristics of the C200 on the road. More gears for more creaminess is the theme here. Cycling through the closely matched ratios lends it a smoother drive in every condition with more pace as it picks up speed.
There’s now a gear for every condition. Rolling from a standstill such as a traffic light; which requires less urgency on the throttle, sees second gear getting the job done. As modern transmissions get packaged with what seems like an unnecessary number of ratios, the key to prevent gear-hunting or hopping is in the software.
Multiple sensors; in this case three for speed alone, feeds the transmission control unit with loads of data for it to decide on the right gear and shift points. Furthermore, the ability to cycle through gears to the highest possible is cardinal in refinement.
At speeds of just the low 60s, the box can shift up to seventh in the blink of an eye and skips down just as fast if you gently prod on the throttle to ask for more. Where the transmission really shines though is the highway with cruising speeds seeing the engine hovering just a pinch above idle speeds. We managed about 10km/litre with a fair mix of highway and congested city driving.
Toggle the drive mode to Sports and you’ll find that the transmission is pleasantly up to task. The brains behind the operation negates the paddle shifters to internet points. It finds the right gear almost all the time and the fat lump of torque smack in the middle of the rev range sees the tacho’s needle rightly spending most of its time there.
It’s not all about the tranny though, it’s just the new box has further polished the impeccable road manners of the C-Class. It seamlessly gels a plush ride, luxurious interior and now, advance drivetrain, into a premium sedan that wears many hats smartly.
And now with a new engine and more tech just a couple of weeks away, the outgoing C200 is a testament to getting “safe” right; which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.