848km in a Mercedes-Benz C250

To find out why Mercedes-Benz is on a roll, we take the C250 for a long drive.

c250_8Sometimes notching up miles in a test vehicle over a few ‘short’ days is a challenge on its own. Unless you happen to own an Uber gig on the side, traffic congestion will invariably limit any noteworthy mileage from being clocked within city confines. So when the opportunity – a weekend jaunt to Singapore to catch its bi-annual air show – coincided with Mercedes-Benz Malaysia loaning us the C250, you could say the stars were aligned.

Trip reset; weather didn’t play nice.
Weather didn’t get the memo

Trouble is, the weather didn’t get the memo. No sooner had I pulled out of the press fleet car park, the skies opened up on our gleaming white C250 AMG. It was a fearsome storm, one with far-reaching consequences as I was to find out a few hours later down the road to Singapore. That the journey began on Friday rush hour, in the rain, was always going to be slow going, but at around the 150km mark (slightly less than half distance to destination), a bumper-to-bumper crawl that stretched for kilometres ensured that all in the car had ample time to scrutinise the interior of the new generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class. After seven long years of the last generation W204 C-Class, surely the W205 had to offer something special.


c250_3It’s abundantly clear that Mercedes-Benz left nothing to chance this time around. The upcoming Audi A4 will stake its claim, and the Lexus IS’s cabin probably more cosseting, but on the evidence of the C250 with its AMG goodies, one can confidently conclude that the C-Class interior is the undisputed ace of the pack, by a comfortable margin. The choice of materials (lots of metal with satin finish) and colour combination was resplendent in our test car – a predominantly dark theme set against vibrant red leather surfaces, that along with one other element that I found to be especially classy – a matte open-pore ash wood trim that added just the right amount of maturity and warmth.

c250_12Driving all night

After what felt like hours of inching in traffic, endless fiddling with the Comand system (lovely 8.4-inch centre display, but interface still isn’t as intuitive as iDrive or MMI), trying on different hues of mood lighting and being suitably entertained by the fidelity and clarity of the 13-speaker Burmester sound system (thank heavens for Spotify), the cause of the jam was revealed as we made our way past the mangled remains of a trailer. We found out the next morning that three individuals (including the trailer driver, with nine others injured) perished when said trailer ploughed into oncoming traffic after annihilating the centre armco. I shudder to think if we had set off on our journey hours earlier.

Massive jam caused by fatal accident up ahead offered plenty of opportunity to check out the C-Class interior.

Making up lost time in poor visibility on a mostly wet E2 North South Highway was never really an option, but having moved on from the mother-of-all traffic jams, the C250 could now stretch its legs. With 211hp and 350Nm hauling only 1,500kg, the C250 AMG hints at being a spirited performer on paper, but no matter how you may want to hurry it along, the 2.0-litre turbocharged powertrain always feels as if it’s holding back a little. But on this dark stormy evening, with midnight looming and junior fast asleep at the back, I’m happy to settle for composure over speed, and the C250 demonstrated that in spades till the final destination was reached at well past 1am.

Finally! Singapore destination reached, but it was way past bedtime. At least the Merc had good company.
A show of force

Outside the stables of AMG (not the cosmetically-enhanced ones, ahem…), perhaps this is how a Mercedes-Benz will almost always feel like, and why BMW will almost always be the driver’s choice (and Audi probably somewhere in between). I am however pleased to note that the updated seven-speed 7G-Tronic Plus automatic in the C250 fully justifies its expanded name for being noticeably smoother and faster-responding than the previous iteration. It’s the best 7G-Tronic yet, not quite class-leading but no longer a point of contention.

Mission accomplished: scale model F-22 Raptor meets the real thing.

With many happy snaps from the excellent air show (chaotic traffic notwithstanding) and tippy toeing around the lion state’s many speed cameras, it was time to make the trek back home to KL, after the obligatory ‘pit stop’ at JPO that is. No drama this time round, just regular traffic and bone-dry weather that allowed for higher average speeds. Even so, the excitement level in the C250 didn’t increase in tandem with velocity, but the underlying sense of well-being is winning me over.


C250 is surefooted and composed at speed, conducive for naps too.
Form is temporary, class is permanent

You could say this comes naturally with familiarity, and you might be right, but I’d like to think that this is a formula that Mercedes-Benz has always stuck with and refined upon, something that’s well appreciated by customers who don’t necessarily rate sheer driving pleasure above all else. What has changed is Mercedes-Benz uncovering the sweet spot in exterior styling (youthful, technological but still graceful, even haters can’t find anything to hate) and rediscovering its knack for making high quality interiors that oozes luxury, a skill that oddly went AWOL over a couple of generations but has since returned in style, most definitely in the C-Class, and most certainly in the upcoming E-Class.

A total of 848km was clocked over 13 hours of driving, averaging 11.6km/l.

As I surrendered the key to the C250 with the trip meter reading an ‘auspicious’ 848km completed (along with a mileage return of 8.6L/100km or 11.6km/l, respectable considering how long the car was stuck in traffic), there’s no doubt that this C-Class is pulling its own weight, no longer needing to rely on the traditional power of the three-pointed star to bag sales. In many ways, we are witnessing a golden age of sorts for Mercedes-Benz, only brave souls would dare to bet against it from regaining the global sales crown by the conclusion of this year.

WC8083E performed flawlessly and was none the worse for wear; seen here being reunited with its siblings.

Mercedes-Benz C250 AMG
Price: RM287,888 (OTR w/o insurance)
Engine: 2.0-litre, inline-four, turbo petrol, RWD
Output: 211hp@5,500rpm, 350Nm@1,220rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed auto w/ shift paddles
Performance: 0-100km/h 6.6 seconds, top speed 250km/h
Fuel efficiency: 17.0 km/l (est)
Wheels/tyres: 18in alloys, 225/45 R18
Safety: 7-airbags, Electronic Stability Control
Warranty: 4-years/Unlimited