Test Drive - Mercedes Benz C230 Avantgarde

03/07/2009 - 18:40 | ,  ,  ,   | Dave

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The coveted three-pointed-star is the best indicator of one's prosperity. If the S-Class is Emperor and the E-Class is King, the C Class can only be and always will be the Crown Prince.

In this review, we find if the new Prince has what it takes to carry forth its position, to be a part of the royal lineage. We also see if the new Merc has the goods to take the opposition back to the drawing board.


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The first thing anyone would notice is the car's sharp and grand exteriors. Whichever part of the world you are in, however crowded your city may be, the new C class' contemporary looks would stand out distinctively. It is a huge departure from the previous generation C Classes, and when we look back at the E280 which we had few days back, this C230 looks astonishingly appealing.

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The bulgy wheel arches give a hint of aggression to the side profile and in the front and the rear this bulge tucks neatly into the bumper. Even the door handles look as though they have been chiseled out of the doors - very artistic.

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The bonnet has just two elegant creases which swoop downwards from the windshield towards the front grill, maintaining a subtle coherence. The new parallelogram shaped headlamps have become the giveaway factor these days for all the new generation mercs to be easily identified. The same design element has been carried over to the upcoming  E Class.

The massive chrome front grill is dominated by the 3 pointed star sitting in the centre. Even though the front grill looked very much like the ML320's grill, we had to remind ourselves that the huge three pointed star in grille, came only with the Avantgarde version.

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The rear isn't as exciting as the front, but the tail lamps add some ornamental value. The tail lamp cluster consists of 3 layers, the turn and reverse lights in the middle and the brake LED lights on the first and the last row.

A chrome strip above on the bootlid is a neat touch that supplements the chrome door garnish. The chrome tipped twin exhaust pipes sit neatly below the bumper and convey the message that the V6 engine of this car means business.

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The top accommodates the huge sun/moon roof, the biggest we have seen in this segment. Side mirrors (ORVMs) are big with precise angular and height adjustments. The sour point here is that the wing mirrors are not power retractable, meaning you have to manually fold both the mirrors every time you park.

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For a fact, even the C-segment Chevrolet Optra comes with power folding mirrors! How awkward would it be for a Merc C-Class owner to fold the mirrors by hand every time he parks next to a Chevy Optra?

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The Xenon headlamps provide adequate illumination in auto setting. Fog lamps are like the E280, enveloped in chrome. The headlamp washer is hidden neatly into the front bumper. The 17" five spoke alloys makes the C230 look sportier.


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Everything from the roof, to the seats, to the steering wheel is black in colour. Thanks to the brushed aluminum inserts on the dash, door pads, instrument cluster and other areas, the interior feels sporty and trendy. The black dashboard sports very good quality plastics.

Steering wheel is big, ergonomic and has the electric setting for height adjustment. The steering houses the phone/call setting, volume controls on one side. The other side has buttons for the Mid control.

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The yellow speedo needle is very lively. It points to 3-digits with ease, courtesy 2.5L, 204Bhp, V6 petrol engine. The circular Multi Information Display in the speedo centre shows the various readings, Odo, trip, temperature, Gear mode, time, radio stations volume etc.

The Tachometer is graduated upto 8000 rpm with the redline starting from just above the 6000rpm mark. All needles are bright yellow colored, making them easily readable.

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The Bluetooth connectivity on the C230 is a very convenient feature, the car can be paired with 14 different mobiles at once. The navigation display/MID has a little sliding cover which can be closed to prevent any distractions while driving. The 6CD changer Harmon Kardon surround audio system was not upto the mark. The Aircon was quiet, but only at the lowest blower speed. The glove box has an Aircon duct within to keep contents cool.

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The gear stick looks like the one in the E280 but has nice brushed aluminum surface. The centre armrest is comfortably located but not adjustable. Under the Armrest are small cubby holes to store CDs etc.

There’s a main command dial just near the gear stick, that controls the MID depending on which mode the MID is in (Audio, Telephone etc)

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The door inserts are cream in color with the door handles placed where you want them to be. The driver seat adjustment controls are placed on the door, helping the driver to adjust the seating position with ease. The drivers seat is very supportive and comfortable. We found the electrically adjustable drivers seat headrest a bit unnecessary. The same motors could have been used to power the ORVMs.

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Visibility from the drivers seat is awesome and due to the compact design of the C class makes driving in traffic a pleasure. Not compromising on the cabin space the design is such that the C class feels rather compact while driving. The rear seats are very well designed with the right shape and contours suiting the human rear. Centre arm rest folding type is Standard in all luxury sedans as it is here.

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Safety as in all Mercedes cars is given top priority. Airbags, Neck protective head rests, curtain airbags are the order of the day here. The cabin is very silent, and the NVH levels are low as well.

Under the hood

This Merc has a 6 cylinder petrol engine V6, 2500cc giving out a thunderous 204Bhp with a very healthy torque of 245nm.


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On or Off, the car hardly makes any noise. The sheer smoothness of the engine can be felt while gaining speed. With the 7G-Tronic gearbox shifts go unnoticed, its not until you see the speedo that you notice the speed you are doing, the feeling of speed is completely masked.

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We managed to do a calm and a composed 175km/hr speed run on a straight stretch of road. The handbrake again as on all Mercs is the paddle type but here when released, there was no thud or annoying noise.

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Another unique feature we noticed is the bonnet that opens with hydraulic supports to a 90deg angle. The boot is generous (475lts) opens via the key remote or a boot opener button on the driver side door panel.

The ride as mentioned is nice and the suspension setup is soft.Handling is top notch with the steering is very precise. With all the features like ABS, traction control, EPS and the onboard computer which monitors so that control is with the driver all the time.

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The things that we didn't like were not many but here they are.


1. No power auto folding mirrors its very useful for city driving and while parking

2. The transmission tunnel takes up a great part of the floor area making seating very uncomfortable for the middle passenger at the rear.

3. Parktronic is not a graphical display as found on other lower segment cars.

4. No USB port for the audio system.


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The Mercedes C230 is a car meant for the successful young individual. We aren't keeping away the middle aged, but somehow, the C-Class would feel right only with a young person behind the wheel.

A few compromises have been made, but the design and engineering gone into it speaks laurels for itself. Since this car comes from a company called Mercedes Benz, outstanding Quality, and top notch fit and finish is part of the package like the four wheels.

It might not be the cheapest or the best car in its segment. But unlike the C-Classes of the past, this new handsome Prince is no silent spectator. This C-Class has character and the muscle of an athlete to give the rivals Audi A4 and the BMW 3 series a run for their money.

Mercedes Benz C230 Avantgarde Slideshow

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