Mercedes-‐Benz C250 Text and Photos: Jansin Ozkur In its 17th year since launch, the C-‐Class continues to be the most popular and extremely reliable model of Mercedes-‐Benz. The 3-‐pointed star has been a symbol of wealth and prestige since the early days of Mercedes history. The iconic automaker included many options as standard in the C-‐Class, where other manufacturers would consider them extras, yet the base model carries an affordable price tag which is in line with most other executive sedans. Steve Champion, the General Sales Manager at Performance Mercedes of St Catharines had the 2011 tester waiting for me at 9 am on a snowy day, perfect setting for testing this baby’s 4MATIC abilities. I needed to shoot the photos before I start test driving it in order to have a clean car for the pictures. Some slush was sprayed on the vehicle by the time I drove it to my prearranged location. I didn’t mind it; as it would somewhat show the driving conditions on that day. The curvy roads, vineyards and the wineries in Niagara Peninsula always provide perfect backdrops for any photo session and shooting cars is no different. I parked the C 250 in front of a lakeshore winery and took some exterior shots. For the next set of pictures I drove it to a small road with big trees, where the sun was shining through the branches providing fabulous scenery. As I walked away from the vehicle to capture it on camera from a good angle, I noticed that the little Benz looked attractive from every angle. It has a very aggressive grill with a large star badge in the middle, no one can miss that you are driving a Mercedes-‐Benz. The front apron adds to the sporty look, and the side skirts give it a lowered look. It has a pleasant stance and looks like it is ready to charge. The creases on the side panels and around the wheel wells make it look more modern, than the earlier models. The tester came with a 2.5L engine, premium and sport packages as well as the “4MATIC” all wheel drive function. Premium package is designed mostly for your driving comfort, with upgraded sound system and memory seats, where the sports package is for your driving pleasure, it gives you the larger size alloy wheels, front and rear aprons, side skirts and upgraded brake calipers. The base model of the C 250 is priced at $35,900 and our tester had a price tag of $45,700 including a 7-‐speed automatic transmission and a navigation package. Interior is roomier than the previous model with both front and rear passenger having increased head and legroom. The carmaker maintained their traditional conservative looks for the dashboard and controls on this model. The LCD screen appears out of the dashboard when you turn the radio on, and retracts when you turn it off. I prefer having the permanent built-‐in screen, much like the one Audi has, as the retractable design gives the radio an aftermarket look. You have the option of retracting it with the push of a button, yet still have the radio or the navigation voice prompts on. I consider myself a tall person and always feel like I need more room when I drive most compact sedans. It wasn’t the case with the C250, the seat was very comfortable and the instruments were unobstructed. Although it did not have the start button option, one short turn of the key and it cranked the engine until started, without the need of holding the key in start position. This feature also eliminates costly repairs caused by cranking a running engine. The highway driving was comfortable and quiet. The 4MATIC works seamlessly with the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and offers a greater level of safety. The 4-‐wheel electronic traction system (4ETS) monitors each wheel for slippage and can individually brake slipping wheels to maintain the power balance and torque. The lightweight alloy engine construction reduces weight, improving vehicle stability and fuel efficiency.
The cruise control is very intuitive and simple to use. A single arm without any buttons or switches will increase/decrease your speed by 1 or 10 km increments, depending on how far you push it. For instance if you tap it lightly 3 times, it would increase your speed by 3 kilometers, whereas if you tap it 3 times all the way, it would speed you up by 30 kilometers. At times I confused the cruise control arm for the signal arm as they both look and feel alike, but eventually I got used to it. The standard Agility Control package automatically adjusts the shocks according to the road conditions. The potholes and bumps of St Catharines roads were easily swallowed yet the “Baby Benz” felt firm enough during swift lane changes. The C-‐Class is fitted with side airbags and window curtains as well as a driver-‐side knee airbag in addition to the 2 front airbags. An anti-‐whiplash head restrain system is standard in all C-‐Class vehicles, living up to the safety reputation of Mercedes-‐Benz. On the curvy roads, the suspension gets firmer as I go around the vineyards. C 250 sticks to the surface going around the curves; I don’t feel the need to brake. Considering this particular model came with the smallest engine available in this class, acceleration was satisfactory with the aid of its smooth shifting, 7-‐ speed automatic transmission. The steering has a tight and assuring feel, and the wind noise is minimal thanks to improved sound insulation and optimized body shape. Brake system and safety futures are top-‐ notch on this vehicle, with advanced warning systems, if anything is about to go wrong, from the brake and engine troubles to the service reminders. The Bluetooth integration is standard in all C-‐Class. With its simple user interface I was able to pair my Blackberry without flipping the pages of the user manual. The 354L trunk capacity is not all that impressive, compare to the 480L of the Audi A4’s, nevertheless; it can be increased with the use of split-‐ folding rear seats. Fuel economy is another point that needs some improvements, at the end of my conservative test drive; my average fuel consumption was 9.5L/100Km. On overall, this C 250 is a good value for the buck and meets most of my expectations. More information on the specifications of this vehicle can be found at www.mercedes-‐benz.ca.