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Mercedes C-Class saloon: first drive

  • 220 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY averages 58.8mpg
  • Emits 125g/km of CO2 meaning 18% BIK band
  • Prices starts from £32,225 for model on test

Around 2,000 new parts have been introduced on the facelifted C-Class as Mercedes-Benz seeks to take on the might of the BMW 3-Series and the Audi A4

Although it's supposed to be a minor refresh, the changes are more than mild on the outside as well as underneath the skin.

Every engine in the range has been tweaked to be more efficient while stop/start has been added to all models regardless of engine size or specification to boost the car's green credentials.

On test we drove the 170bhp C-Class saloon 220 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY with the seven-speed 7G-Tronic Plus gearbox. The car averages 58.8mpg and emits only 125g/km of CO2 emissions, meaning that the capable C-Class falls into the 18% BIK band. On the road the diesel engine is superbly refined with only a little clatter when you close in on the red line.

Handling and performance is very good. The car corners well and cruises effortlessly on the motorway. With the normal suspension, the ride is very comfortable on all types of roads although it could be even better if you opt for smaller wheels. In this instance big is not always better.

Performance figures are on a par with the rivals: the sprint from zero to 62mph can be achieved in 8.1 seconds while it has a top speed of 144mph.

The shape of the car has also changed. The designers have been toiling away to make the car look more like the rest of the range. The sides are more pronounced while the front gets the family V-shape nose. The centre grille has been expanded to look more prominent and the side inlets are lower to give the car a more dominant stance. The headlamps and the tail-lights have both been redesigned and give the car a sportier look.

Inside has also been reworked with the dash receiving the majority of the surgery. The materials feel softer and look classier while binacles for the speedometer and rev counter have a new look.

Safety has been increased with the introduction of ten new driving assistance programmes. These include Attention Assist (this monitors 70 parameters to ensure driver alertness) and Active Bonnet (improves pedestrian safety and can be reset by the driver) will be standard while Intelligent Light System and Adaptive Highbeam Assist will be standard on the Sport model. Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist and Speed Limit Assist will all be available as options.

Three trim levels will be available in the UK, including SE, Elegance and Sport. Prices start from £25,515 while our test car, the 170bhp C-Class saloon 220 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY with the seven-speed 7G-Tronic Plus gearbox, starts from £32,225.

Also consider:

BMW 3-Series

If driving enjoyment is your priority then this is the car to choose. From the handling to the steering weight, it's just about perfect.

Audi A4

Comfort is very high, while dealer service is very good. Cleaner and more efficient engines than before.

Ford Mondeo

The latest refresh has positioned the Mondeo to compete with the German premium brands. Interior quality is much improved and the car is fun to drive.