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Test driving the Mercedes C200 made me appreciate my VW Jetta even more

Coming from the DSG on the Jetta, I found the gearbox on the Merc to take a while to downshift & get going.

BHPian Vinay23 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Dad and I test drove the C200 last week as a potential replacement to our MY15 Jetta DSG.

Here are my observations based on a long-ish drive in the C200.

Exteriors

  • Looks classy. Mercedes has knocked it out of the park with this generation’s design. It looks better proportioned compared to the last generation.
  • I feel the car looks best in the Cavansite Blue shade.
  • The slim tail lamps are easily my favourite part of the exterior.
  • Mercedes could’ve done better with the alloy design- it’s not the best choice for this car.
  • Dad echoed the observation from the official review about the lower section of the front bumper- he felt that this was the worst part of the car’s design and to quote him - “such a cheap-looking design does not belong on a car like this”. It didn’t really bother me though.

Interiors

  • The cushioning on the seats is very good, the ones on the front especially are excellent.
  • The indicator stalks were too thin for my liking.
  • The horn pad is hard to reach and it requires quite a lot of effort to press it.
  • The pedal area was way too cramped. The absence of a dead pedal only made matters worse.
  • The amount of space on the back seat really surprised me. It had quite a lot of legroom left even after the passenger (probably 5’10”) adjusted the seat to its height - and that's saying something when it comes from someone who’s 6’2”. Definitely a big step up from the last generation in which I hurt my head, back and my knee while egressing from the car.
  • Dad felt that the A-Pillar and ORVM were blocking his view of the outside. Again, this didn’t bother me.
  • The boot space was smaller than expected. The Jetta’s boot is much bigger.

Tech

  • I initially hated the idea of having an iPad-like screen for the infotainment HU, but then I was pleasantly surprised when I had a look at it in person- it wasn’t half bad. For those who feel the same way I did about the screen, do check it out in person. Using it is still a major distraction while driving, though- especially the controls for the aircon.
  • The infotainment cluster looked cluttered with information- took me a while to wrap my head around it.
  • The touch controls on the steering were alright. I was able to navigate through the infotainment screen fairly intuitively and I was warming up to it with time.
  • Not a fan of the other controls which are touch-based- the seat and sunroof controls, for example. I would have much preferred tactile buttons.
  • One feature that I liked most is the auto seat adjust which gave me a near-perfect seating position. The feature is a boon for those who absolutely need to have the perfect seating position.
  • The Burmester sound system was underwhelming, to say the least. Not something I expected to see in a car that costs this much.

Drive

  • The ride quality is top-notch. The car simply glides over the roads.
  • The high-speed stability that the chassis provides is commendable.
  • The turning radius felt lower than the Jetta’s. Taking U-turns was effortless.
  • Steering is light at low speeds but it doesn’t weigh up very well with the speed. It didn't feel confidence-inspiring somehow.
  • Engine refinement at lower rpms is excellent. Gets a bit boomy post 3.5k, which I don’t really mind.
  • The engine has more grunt than expected for a 1.5L unit, but it is best suited for sedate drivers for use in the city and the occasional drive on the highways.
  • The engine-transmission combo is definitely tuned for comfort, and it shows. Overtakes require a bit more planning than usual.
  • The gear shifts are seamless. Coming from the DSG on the Jetta, the gearbox takes a while to shift down the cogs and get going, but once it does, it picks up speed fairly quickly.
  • I felt that the ISG didn't contribute much to acceleration during low speeds and I was able to notice some lag.

Summary

The sole reason why we even considered the C in the first place is the Mercedes brand. Dad's been a big fan of the W205 generation and we thought we’ll bite the bullet this time around.

Why the C200, you ask? We really don’t want to buy another diesel, especially when manufacturers are moving to petrols in a big way. Secondly, as much as Jetta’s diesel engine clatter is masked incredibly well inside the cabin, I prefer the refinement of petrol engines. Besides, the Jetta's clocked only 10k kms in the last two years - our requirements don't mandate a diesel.

Long story short, I don’t think the C200 is for us. Especially not at that price point when it barely feels like an upgrade to the Jetta, and in some ways, it’s a downgrade. If this test drive experience has taught me anything, it’s that I don’t appreciate the Jetta enough for what it offers. Looks like we’ll be holding on to it a bit longer than I anticipated.

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