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The fourth-generation C-Class has landed, brimming with tech and fitted with all-new engines, but does Mercedes' best-selling car have what it takes to keep its place at the top?
Agility control comfort suspension, 17in alloy wheels, Collision Prevention Assist Plus, reversing camera, 10.25in media display, heated front seats, DAB radio, SD card-based navigation system, Speedtronic cruise control, LED daytime running lights
198hp 1.6, 194hp 2.0
SE, Sport, AMG Line
Six-speed manual, nine-speed auto
The highly successful C-Class range has come in for what Mercedes describes as the biggest model refresh in its history. It's a hefty one, too, with around 6,500 parts or half of the car's total parts replaced or modified.
In 2017, Mercedes sold a combined total of over 415,000 C-Class saloon and estate models worldwide, and the newly refurbished line-up is hoping to continue its success, taking on the likes of BMW's upcoming new 3 Series and an updated Audi A4.
The secret of C-Class's success so far is partly due to the wide model line-up, which includes the saloon, estate, coupe and cabriolet, all of which have been refreshed for 2018.
The most obvious visual change to the range is reserved for the exterior, including a fresh design for the head and tail lights. There are also new petrol and diesel engines, the most interesting of the bunch is the new C200 engine, which offers 184hp via its 1.5-litre petrol engine, the smallest ever offered in the C-Class range.
We've chosen to review the C200, and while it won't constitute the bulk of C-Class sales, instead leaving that to the C200d, it is arguably the most interesting car in the line-up, because under the bonnet is the four-cylinder petrol engine paired with a rather impressive 48V mild hybrid system to enable increased efficiency.
Combined with the mild hybrid the engine is claimed to achieve up to 46.3mpg and emits 140g/km of CO2 on its standard 18in wheels.
When accelerating, the electrical boost from the 48V system adds an additional 14hp, which in essence bridges the brief pause until the turbocharger has built up its full pressure. The shift time of the automatic transmission is shortened as a result. During deceleration, the alternator recuperates kinetic energy and charges the battery.
Another interesting feature of the new engine is its gliding mode, and the recuperative braking when the vehicle is coasting. The start/stop system, which takes place before and after gliding mode, operates particularly comfortably thanks to the belt-driven starter/alternator, as the engine restarts swiftly, almost silently and with very little vibrations. Consequently, it's difficult to tell when it's being switched on and off.
While performance is strong, refinement isn't. The engine cut-out is almost flawless, but the petrol unit always makes its presence known when accelerating through the gears on the nine-speed automatic. To be frank, the engine is so unrefined we struggle to recommend it.
Three trim levels - SE, Sport and AMG Line - will be on offer in the UK, the latter we're driving here, which almost makes you double take whether you're sat in a C-Class or its S-Class sibling.
On the inside, legroom is generous, even for tall passengers sitting behind a tall driver, and the seats are extremely supportive and comfortable. The boot is large enough to lose things in at 425 litres, and if you think that's big, the estate swallows up to 1,510 litres. There's also plenty of storage space with large door pockets and a substantial glovebox; however, if you get a high-specced trim, half of the glovebox is taken up with a branded fragrance diffuser. The 10.25in media display, 18in alloy wheels, keyless start, LED headlights, sports suspension and DAB radio are all welcome as standard equipment.
The range has standard touch-sensitive controls on the steering wheel that respond to swiping motions like a smartphone. They're pretty easy to get used to but there are lots of functions and it takes a bit of practice to know how to use it.
A P11D of under £40,000 is decent but compared with its rivals, it's pricey, thanks to the hybrid element whichisn't offered in other cars in this class. On the plus side, this means fuel consumption is low compared with rivals at 47.1mpg.
Overall, the C200 is an interesting addition to the class and rivals should be watching out for it. Despite the welcome addition of a mild hybrid engine to the C-Class range, for refinement reasons, werecommend you go for the other C-Class engines instead.
Mercedes C200 Saloon 1.5 198hp AMG Line 9G-T+ Auto
On sale July 2018
Residual value 47.1%
Service, maintenance and repair £2,620
Cost per mile 81.0p
Fuel consumption 47.1mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 136g/km (28%)
BIK 20/40% a month £168/£337
Boot space 425 litres
Engine size/power 1,598cc/198hp
Spacious interior and boot, impressive 48-volt system