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Mercedes-Benz C 250 AMG Line review (video)

Even if you’re not interested in cars, you probably know the Mercedes-Benz C-Class as the quintessential mid-size premium sedan. But is it really at the forefront of the segment in terms of luxury, technology, and, perhaps most importantly, sense of delicacy? We’re putting the C 250 to the test to find out.

The C 250 is the flagship four-cylinder variant. Basically, it’s the ideal version for professionals looking to boast their worth without stepping into the enthusiast world of the AMG C 43 and C 63, which arguably open up more subjectivity and fan base rivalry.

In C 250 form the C-Class looks smart and expensive, and it features a nice 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine that develops enough power and torque (155kW/350Nm) for most daily driving duties. It also offers a decent official average fuel consumption (6.0L/100km).

Mercedes recently updated the C-Class range to include its new nine-speed automatic, but we just missed that so we’re testing the now-older seven-speed automatic version. Strangely, the new nine-speed model sees fuel consumption jump to 6.4L/100km despite using the same engine with the same outputs. Most other areas remain the same or similar though, with prices starting at $69,400 for both the MY16 and MY17 (excluding on-road costs).

Mercedes-Benz C 250 AMG Line – THE SPECS

Engine: 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder
Output: 155kW@5500rpm / 350Nm@1200-4000rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed auto
Drive type: Rear-wheel drive
Wheels: F: 19×7.5, 225/40  R: 19×8.5, 245/35
ANCAP: Five stars (scored 36.46 out of 37)
Tare weight: 1425kg
Power-to-weight: 9.19:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 6.0L/100km
Economy during test: 9L/100km

Fuel capacity/Type: 66L/95 RON
Power efficiency: 25.83kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 3.32 seconds*
0-100km/h: 7.18 seconds*
1/8 mile: 9.87 seconds at 121.9km/h*
1/4 mile: 15.12 seconds at 152.1km/h*
100-0km/h braking: 3.00 seconds at 37.26 metres*
Decibel at idle: 42*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 77*
Priced from: $69,400*

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different. Price excludes on-road costs

Mercedes-Benz C 250 AMG Line – THE PACKAGE

Mercedes-Benz interiors are starting to look and feel pretty universal across the range these days, which is a good thing if you’re at the lower end of the showroom hierarchy because you’re getting a decor that’s similar to something much more expensive. Material quality and fit and finish is very good in the C-Class, but the design and elegance is paramount. It feels really special in here.

The thick centre console is wrapped in leather and showcases Merc’s latest interface hand controller, with its sculpted platform that envelops a rotary dial. From there the console sweeps upward to provide a basis for the main centre fascia. On this test car the curved panel uses a wood veneer, stopping at the trio of aviation-style climate vents.

Standing at the top is the media interface, which, in our opinion, looks a bit tacky as if it’s been stuck on as an after-thought. Without it the dash would look much cleaner and more consistent in terms of design, but obviously this would mean there’s nowhere to display media and driving functions.

Although the exquisite hand controller looks beautiful, like it has just come from a contemporary art exhibition, functionality seems to play a secondary role. We find it quite confusing, with odd menu buttons on top of the pad and an unusual left-scroll, right-scroll layout. The volume dial is also wonderfully crafted but unconventional and can take time to get used to. Once you know your way around you really appreciate the comprehensive array of functions on offer.

As standard the C 250 comes with satellite navigation, a rear-view camera, dual-zone climate control, digital radio and a five-speaker sound system. Those wanting more can upgrade to the Command package ($2300) which adds an in-built harddrive, internet connectivity, and a 13-speaker sound system with digital sound processing for clear and crisp audio.

Buyers can also option for the AMG Line package ($2685 – as tested), which adds a sporty bodykit for the exterior, lowered sports suspension, alloy wheels, and cross-drilled sports brakes. The interior is also enhanced with very chunky sports seats that are almost too aggressive for regular commuting, along with a cool analogue clock for the dash, sports pedals and steering wheel, and the woodgrain and leather-look trimmings for the dash.

Cabin space is not bad for this class. Although it can feel tight getting in and out, it’s also quite low, the ambience feels cosy and unmistakably premium once you’re settled. This is definitely a vehicle that you sit in rather than on, which is ideal for sporty driving. Rear seat space is respectable against the rivals, with the large driveline tunnel sapping middle-seat comfort. We love the metallic mesh trimmings on the doors, giving it all a genuine classy touch.

Mercedes-Benz C 250 AMG Line – THE DRIVE

Without being the most powerful but nor the least powerful in the class, the C 250 with its 155kW turbo is smack-bang in the middle of the class in terms of output and performance. The company has cleverly catered for the tight yet obvious abyss in the market segment, with most rivals offering either 140kW (or thereabouts) or 180kW (or thereabouts).

This means acceleration is more than adequate for a mild-spec four-cylinder, with our performance tests returning a 0-100km/h time of 7.18 seconds. Mercedes claims a time of 6.6 seconds for this seven-speed auto version and 6.5 seconds with the latest nine-speed auto.

Out on the open road the engine provides plenty of oomph to both get you going without much effort and to accommodate an enjoyable drive. Throttle response is sharp, with very minor turbo-lag lower down in the revs. In-gear acceleration is honorable, but top-end speed is the most impressive for its level of perception. Seven gears spread the highway touring capability well, requiring low revs for our national speed limit.

Of course, being designed in Germany predominately for German roads (built in South Africa), the C 250 offers exceptional city-to-city cruising, with equally supportive fuel economy. This is helped by the engine’s low-revving characteristics, with peak power reached at only 5500rpm. Peak torque is spread wide and far, between just 1200rpm and 4000rpm, however, its happy place does seem to be higher in the revs than lower.

As for the handling, with the AMG Line package and sports suspension, this is a super-agile mid-size sedan. It darts into corners quicker than you might anticipate, and the chassis is rigid with absolutely no body roll, making it feel very connected to the road. Road holding is also superb, with even the non-AMG Line version wearing staggered wheel/tyre widths front and rear for uncompromising composure and confidence.

If we had one complaint about the drive it’s that it can feel too agile, to the point where it seems fidgety and anxious in certain conditions. Fortunately, the steering feel is highly communicative and precise, so you always know what the front wheels are doing and where they’re placed, and there’s a high sense of driver interaction.

Driving comfort is smooth and planted, with the AMG Line sports suspension providing a taut and toned bracing of the road. For pure luxury we’d suggest you steer away from the AMG Line package and stick with the standard suspension, as the AMG setup might be too firm for some. Cabin quietness and wind noise levels are at the class benchmark.

Mercedes-Benz C 250 AMG Line – THE VIDEO

Mercedes-Benz C 250 AMG Line – THE VERDICT

Yes, it is the quintessential mid-size luxury sedan in that the interior is refined, smart, and it feels important, while the drive is discerningly dynamic if a little twitchy. Where it falls down a little is with practicality. The cockpit can feel small and the multimedia hand controller is confusing and lacks cooperative functionality compared with rivals.

Product quality and brand status are of course outstanding, standing tall above most competitors, without needing to prove itself. Australians obviously appreciate this, as it remains the best-seller in the class (2016 and so far this year).

PROS:
– Premium look and feel
– Dynamic drive with respectable performance
– Light in weight (1425kg); very nimble handling
– Staggered wheel/tyres sizes
– Elegant interior
– Finest badge in the class?

CONS:
– AMG Line suspension might be too firm for some
– Almost too agile; steering can seem fidgety
– Low cabin; tight getting in and out

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.  We may be able to get you a good deal through our friends at Mercedes-Benz Hornsby.

Brett is the editor and founder of PerformanceDrive. He's obsessed with driving, having played with Matchbox cars until he was tall enough to drive a real one. After initially working as a mechanic, Brett earned a degree in journalism and entered media as an editorial assistant at Top Gear Australia magazine. He then worked at CarAdvice.com.au. His dream is to live next door to the Nurburgring in Germany.