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Mercedez-Benz C-Class Singapore Review 2022 - C200 AMG Line (A)

Continuing its fabled rivalry with the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4, the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class has elevated its luxury game significantly, following in the styling and technological footsteps of its larger S-Class sibling. The interior is adorned with panache and drama, and is armed with an arsenal of ambient lighting configurations that are accessible via the latest portrait style MBUX infotainment system that is inherited from the S-Class. The C-Class is now also a mild hybrid, pegged to a 4 pot 1.5L engine, making 201 bhp and generating 300Nm of torque. On the outside, our AMG line specified test car looks athletic and suave, a good blend of sportiness and class.

A good way to orientate this review is to talk about the luxury factor that the new C-Class brings to the table. Apart from inheriting its Russian doll design from its ultra premium S-Class stablemate, the C-Class is also bigger than ever before. Overall, the car looks very luxurious, and at the point of writing, is probably the most prestigious sedan in its segment, though it must be acknowledged that its key rivals, the current BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4, are getting on with age and due for an update - so it remains to be seen if the new C-Class will hold on to this perch or if it will perhaps be dethroned by the more sporty and tech-focussed 3 Series which is slated for release next year.

What currently differentiates the Mercedes-Benz ownership experience from other marquee automakers in the same segment is for sure the amount of flair and drama presented by its cars - and the new C-Class is packed to the brim with eye catching styling features in the interior, dramatic ambient lighting, and extra shiny bits that really make its occupants feel like they are entering an elevated world of luxury. Headlining this flair and drama is the new MBUX infotainment unit that you also see in the S-Class, which presents itself in the form of a massive portrait style screen that really dominates the dashboard. In it, you find all sorts of nifty features such as augmented reality navigation, as well as auto seat adjustment based on your height input. However, for such a huge screen, I found that the interface and on screen visuals a little basic, perhaps made more pronounced due to heightened expectations I had from seeing such a massive infotainment screen. Build quality also seems to have been de-prioritised in favour of form and flair in this generation of Mercedes-Benz cars, as certain plastic bits that looks great, can feel a little wobbly to the touch. In this regard, BMW and Audi seem to have taken the lead in this segment.

One thing I didn't mind being basic though, was a particular viewing mode on the instrument cluster, which allows you to keep only basic bits of information on the cluster, while removing all the extras. It looks odd at first, but then you start to appreciate its simplicity over time, as it adds to the premium-ness of the cabin. In this particular case then, less was indeed more. On the flip side, I found the inclusion of the red-themed sports view on the instrument cluster a little bit unnecessary on a car that is obviously not a performance vehicle. I would't put it down as a flaw of the car though, as it was perhaps just trying to be more inclusive. I would however, judge the driver who chooses it over the more classic and timeless alternative viewing modes on the instrument cluster. Same goes with the bright red seats on the media test car, which I did not appreciate, and reminded me of a Japanese sedan that was trying a little too hard to look sporty, or a Maserati from the early 2000s - Both are not pleasant memories.

On the road, the C-Class actually feels a little bit unfamiliar, and thats not necessarily a bad thing, but it does seem to point toward the car appealing to a slightly different crowd. First impressions is that the car is extremely easy to drive, thanks to a steering set up that leans towards the lighter side, as well as all wheel steering that you find on the higher specified C200 models - a useful feature that tremendously aids drivability around urban estates. This light and breezy demeanour does unfortunately mean that the C-Class feels quite un-continental, lacking the heft and purpose that I have learnt to associate with continental makes and models. Over bumps and road imperfections, the C-Class also floats over like a Japanese car, instead of beating the ground into submission like a continental car. For this reason, I think that the new C-Class would appeal more to Japanese upgraders than it would to another continental car driver. Then again, anything with a 3-pointed star seems to appeal to everyone in Singapore these days, so I could be terribly mistaken in my assessment.

It is true to a great extent that living in Singapore, there is only so much performance we can exploit from our vehicles. It is also true that especially in Singapore, the luxury factor and the brand status offered by the cars we buy is just as important to the average consumer as the car's performance. If you agree with both the aforementioned statements, then you'll agree that the C-Class is perhaps the perfect product for a country like Singapore. Driving around in the C-Class, it is evident that the car was built to be a luxury vehicle above anything else, and the car is generally very comfortable, spacious, and compliant. It's 9G-Tronic transmission, although quite behind the curve in terms of shift speed, does aid this quest for comfort rather well, and continues to provide those gradual and gentle upshifts that it has become somewhat known for.

The flip side to all this, is that while there are no expectations for the C-Class to behave like a performance vehicle, the car is generally quite bland and uninspiring to drive. While the 1.5L turbocharged 4 cylinder engine in the C200 provides decent power and acceleration, it has the tendency to sound like a tractor under acceleration, meaning you don't particularly get to enjoy said power and acceleration - your natural instinct then is to just drive the car as gently as you can, which perhaps was the engineered response.

To sum things up, the new Mercedes Benz C-Class is a luxury vehicle before all else, and it absolutely looks the part both inside and outside. Interior styling reflects the nature of the car, and not many interiors have this ability to instantly elevate the occupant's journey simply from a styling and finishing perspective. If you are in the market for a Mercedes Benz because you believe it to provide some of the most luxurious cars in its class - you are in the right place. However, if you're looking for a dynamic and driver oriented driving machine, I'd say this isn't the car for you. All in all, the C-Class has grown in stature and has amplified its lux-factor, but keep in mind though, that this maturity does come at a premium, as the C-Class now sits in a price bracket previously occupied by an E-Class.


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