While the fifth generation C-class made its global debut last year, it has taken a while to get to India probably because of the disruptions caused by Covid-19 as well as the chip shortages. In India, the car is being launched as the C200 with a 4-cylinder 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine and as the 220d and 300d with a 4-cylinder 2-litre diesel engine that comes in two states of tune. The 300d, which we drove, uses the same 4-cylinder engine as the 220d but with 265 bhp of max power and 550 Nm of peak torque. All the three engines come with an integrated starter motor (ISG), a first for the diesel engines that can assist the internal combustion engine when required with an additional 20 bhp of power and 200 Nm of torque. The ISG also recuperates energy, refines the start-stop mechanism and helps boost fuel efficiency and works through a separate 48V battery.
With peak torque that kicks in at 1800 rpm plus the 200 Nm instantaneous torque from the ISG means that the 300d is a stonker off the blocks as well as through the gears. Steering is typical Mercedes, light and easy, tuned for comfort in the city, but sharp and progressive on the winding mountain roads. The shifts do not feel as quick as some of the newer gearboxes around but the oodles of torque somewhat make up for the not-so-sporty gearbox. The ride is a bit rough on potholed roads.
The trends as far as the design and style of the C have been very clear from the third generation which looked heavily inspired by the S-class and that progression has not stopped even with the fifth generation of the baby S. In essence, the C-class gets even more sporty with an accentuation of the cab-backward design, small front overhangs and a large wheelbase. As for the interiors, it is a carbon copy of the S-class with only small giveaways in the shape of the air-con vents and the materials used. The screens are also positioned just like in the S-class with a customisable 12.3-inch instrument panel that is the same size as on the S-class, with the option of seven different pre-sets for content and three different display styles namely Discreet, Sporty and Classic. The centre of attraction though is an 11.9-inch vertical screen (in portrait mode) that is slightly smaller than that on the S and is well placed for navigation displays and is the primary interface for the latest gen MBUX system. With the longer wheelbase, the rear is also no longer cramped though I would have liked some more under-thigh support from the seat squab at the rear being a bit longer.
The baby Benz has been growing up with every generation. This time, with a host of tech, features, systems as well as the mild hybrid system, it is perhaps one of the more expensive cars in this segment. But with the 300d, one does get big bang for the buck and the feeling of driving one of the best cars in the world.