With the facelift of the current W204 iteration of the C-class, Mercedes-Benz has taken what was already a very good car and simply made it better.
This sounds like a fairly sensible thing to do with a new model, but you would be surprised how many times it doesn’t work that way.
Not with the new 2011 C-class however, as Mercedes have moved the game up another step and, in doing so, take an even more convincing swipe at the 3 Series. Especially when it comes to diesel power.
The C250 CDI’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel powerplant is a quite remarkable engine. Applying the throttle simply piles the torque through the rear-wheel drive drivetrain like a sledge hammer. There is nothing terribly subtle about it, just a slight pause as the turbo spools up then a big, fat band of relentless twist coursing through the drivetrain.
Basically the same engine that is in the already-impressive C200 CDI but with the wick turned up, the powerplant in the C250 boasts 150kW of power and a mighty 500Nm of torque. This explains the C250’s explosive performance then, especially when you consider that all that torque is available from as low as 1,600rpm.
In terms of handling, the facelifted C-class carries on the good work started back when it was launched in 2007 by being a pleasingly responsive handler. The steering is sharp and turn-in is brilliant in the way that only a well set up rear-wheel drive car can be.
Apart from the obvious changes to the nose, most obviously the new headlights, you will have to be a real Mercedes train-spotter to pick changes elsewhere on the exterior. The revised face does sharpen up the looks though, bringing a nicely aggressive edge to the C-class.
It is inside where the changes are far more obvious. Gone is the awkward pop-up screen for the audio and navigation systems, replaced by a nicely integrated in-dash unit that helps to tidy up the dash as a whole. Logically and sensibly laid out, the new dash is understated and elegant, yet still populated with enough buttons that you don’t need to scroll through endless menus on the screen to do anything.
Even though the interior of the last model was generally of a high standard, it did have a few small areas of unfortunate plastics. The new one, however, pretty much eradicates this criticism, elevating the interior up to new heights. Everything you come into contact with is high quality and fantastically well put together.
At $87,500 the C250 CDI comes loaded with a huge raft of standard equipment, but looking past the trinkets and at the basic package on offer is where the real value in the C250 CDI lies.
The brilliant chassis, fantastic engine, slick seven-speed transmission and vast quality of the basic package makes the C250 CDI a truly enjoyable car indeed.
This article first appeared in New Zealand Company Vehicle magazine.