The flagship version of the new generation C-Class is a driver’s delight
Last month when I drove the new C-Class, I came back with the distinct feeling of it belonging to a segment above given its larger size, luxurious interiors and equipment levels. But I only managed to drive the petrol version then and was looking forward to driving the range topper in the new C-Class line-up, the C 300d, given its engine specifications. The C 300d boasts outputs of 265PS and 500Nm from its four cylinder, 2.0-litre diesel engine, besides which EQ Boost offers an additional 20PS and 200Nm. 700Nm going to the rear wheels, even for short durations, does sound like a recipe for fun, no? Claimed 0-100kmph time is a scant 5.7 seconds too! So is the C 300d the pick of the lot? I spent a couple of days with the car to find out.
The C 300d looks sportier thanks to the AMG grille with the star pattern and also the different front bumper. Hands down, this is a more appealing looking face, at least to enthusiasts. The 18-inch wheels have a different design too and reminded me of the ones on the AMG E 53. Overall, the C 300d is sportier and more aggressive looking, but its white hue reminded me even more of the current generation S-Class.
Inside, the C 300d also looks and feels different, again thanks to the AMG treatment.
The distinct feel of being inside a scaled down S-Class is very prominent thanks to the dashboard layout and large, floating infotainment screen, but there’s a dash of sportiness to it too. The choice of materials, surface finishes and overall appeal of the cabin are very luxurious.
The AMG steering wheel is my favourite bit though, with its design and piano black finish on the spokes and it feels very rich and sporty to hold.
The carbon fibre like finish on the dashboard is one of the distinguishing elements in the C 300d, while the leather and brushed metal surfaces do their bit in adding to the luxurious feel.
Coming to the heart of the matter, new-age diesel engines are smooth, quiet and very refined, but the one under the hood of this car really takes the cake. It’s so smooth and the cabin so quiet, you almost cannot tell the engine is running when behind the wheel! The motor is also quick to rev and midrange performance is very strong, making for rapid progress each time you step on the throttle. In fact, there’s lots of grunt all round and the nine-speed automatic gearbox is also quick to offer downshifts whenever needed.
The C 300d does not get Sport Plus but Sport mode lets you have fun as the ESP cuts in late, though of course you can turn it off too. And with 500Nm going to the rear wheel full time and an additional 200Nm from EQ Boost, the C 300d is a driver’s car. It doesn’t even mind getting its tail out – you have to coax it, but the C 300d is up for some sideways action too!
Of course, besides the strong engine performance, dynamics play a big role in making the C 300d a driver’s car. It feels very composed around fast bends and the steering feels well-weighted and offers lots of feedback. The 18-inch wheels aid handling and offer confidence to push and overall, the C 300d surprised me with its handling. I mean, a luxury sedan with a diesel engine isn’t really intended to be sporty given its focus on luxury, but the C 300d does a stellar job of adding a big dollop of sportiness to its luxurious feel and comfort! At the same time, it also offers a very plush ride, which is yet another feather in its hat and the car soaks up bumps and undulations really well, despite the larger wheels. I even spent a good amount of time driving the C 300d on the highway and the car impresses with its mile munching manners. Driving distances and roadtrips should thus be a piece of cake for this Merc given its engine performance and comfort, besides which the car also proved to be a sipper, returning efficiency comparable to small diesel SUVs as ARAI certified efficiency stands at 20.37kmpl!
Few luxury diesel sedans have had me hooked onto driving them in the recent past as much as the new C 300d did. It juggles several roles excellently, be it that of being a driver’s car with its sportiness and performance, a supremely comfortable luxury sedan or simply getting you a lot of attention (and respect, given the three-pointed star on the grille!). Being the range topper the C 300d commands a premium of Rs 5 lakh over the C 220d and retails at Rs 61 lakh ex-showroom. But given the performance gains and its sportier appeal, the C 300d really is a steal, especially if you like driving!