Spring is approaching and its no surprise that wind in the hair motoring becomes more desirable with every passing day. Mercedes-Benz has revised its brilliant C Class range with a mid-life makeover for its handsome saloon, more practical estate, slick coupé and the jewel in the crown C Class convertible. We’ve been testing the C200 AMG Line ragtop to see if it delivers the joy only topless motoring can deliver.
The exterior looks sharp and premium without taking up too much road space. The four-seat Coupé based cabrio looks great with its cloth roof up or down. The process is motorised and takes just 24 seconds and can be carried out on the move at up to 50km/h. The car’s proportions and design language look set to stand the test of time.
When you get inside and close the long door the seat belt is efficiently delivered to your shoulder via a retractable extending arm. The back seats are for kids but adults can fit for short trips only – if you want to stay friends. The S Class sourced steering wheel is nice and while there are revisions inside the layout does not ‘wow’ in the way either the E or A Class do (when fitted with their top of the range large digital displays). The C’s dash still looks smart and elegant but now lags behind in terms of technology integration that we’ve seen from the newer MB models. The convertible has a good heater (vital) and more importantly features heated seats (3 settings) and as part of the standard comfort pack ‘Airscarf’ heated vents (3 settings) positioned in the front head restraints at occupant neck height. We know how useful the comfort feature can be on a cold day with the tech going all the way back to the second generation SLK. Also as part of the comfort pack is the button raised electric Aircap wind deflector system that reduces helps excessive wind from the entering cabin when the roof is down. The cabrio’s leather seats are heat reflective and this will save a bum or two from a scalding on a summer’s day. The boot can hold a reasonable 360 litres of luggage.
Under the bonnet there are revisions to the C Class engine range. Irish buyers initially get a choice of three diesels (200d, 220d & 300d) and five petrol models (180, 200, 300, C43 & C63). The aging 2.1 diesel units are replaced by cleaner, more efficient 2 litre units (first seen in the excellent E Class). Electrification features in the new 4 cylinder petrol range with EQ Boost (EQ is Merc’s electric vehicle brand) that uses 48 volt mild-hybrid technology to reduce emissions. Making the car greener are its belt driven starter/generator with power from a lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack, this delivers a grand total of 14hp extra. The battery does quite nicely fill-in a power gap that what would otherwise be noticeable.
Our C200 test car is fitted with a 1.5 litre petrol engine with EQ Boost. The little unit does an adequate job of hauling the C Class around with 184hp and 280nm but lacks the effortless smoothness a premium car should deliver. It is not slow, 0-100km/h takes just 7.9 seconds, with a top speed of 239km/h. Floor the right pedal and the car is surprisingly quick but sadly it just sounds average when doing so. I never wanted or should I say the engine never made me feel like driving with enthusiasm. A quirk with the mild hybrid system is when you lift off the throttle the engine often cuts out after a moment as the car coasts on using stored battery power to supply, eh, power. Here’s a quirk – Driving a car without the engine on is still an offence in Ireland but European type approval tends to top trump Irish law so this is not really an issue, just something to get used to. The engine kicks in when you touch the throttle again. The automatic gearbox is really smooth and overall the C200 power-plant delivers a unremarkable driving experience. Its important to not forget that the drop top is about cruising so having loads of power is unnecessary. If you have deep pockets the C43 AMG has a 6 cylinder (365hp) while the C63 AMG (500+hp) comes with a V8!