Expert Review - Mercedes-Benz C-Class W206 (2022-Present)
6 May 2022
With much improved ride quality, while still retaining its unmatched style inside and out, the W206 is a glorious return to form for the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Equipment is a bit of a mixed bag – up for the C200, down for the C300 – and it's now a pricey option in the class. Build quality has seen a noticeable downgrade from the W205, but as a whole the new C-Class is undoubtedly the pick of the segment.
The W206 performs as expected – smooth and reasonably quick. The C200, despite having a downsized 1.5L engine, outperforms the outgoing 2.0L unit, while the C300 is now a match for the BMW 330i in straight line acceleration. Just. Also improved is the 9G-Tronic transmission, now much smoother and nearly imperceptible in action.
Ride & Handling
A slight improvement from before, the W206 has competent handling and body control. It's still no 3 Series in terms of outright driving enjoyment, but with the added comfort, it's now a far better balanced compact executive sedan than it was. Especially set against the (overly) stiffly sprung 330i, the smooth riding C300 is a revelation.
By far the most improved aspect of the W206. Gone is the ill-balanced dampers from before, replaced by a well judged passive suspension set up that is the class of the field. Over small bumps and undulations, there's an air suspension-like floatiness to the ride – in a positive way. The C300 rides better than the C200 despite having bigger wheels, due to its use of conventional rather than run-flat tyres.
Now that BMW Malaysia has finally caught up by fitting AEB in its cars, Mercedes now no longer hold any advantage here. AEB is standard on both variants, but more advanced active safety/driving features such as adaptive cruise control and semi-autonomous driving are still missing. The C200 even misses out on 360-degree parking cameras, despite the C-Class' premium pricing.
With a longer wheelbase, the W206 now has class leading interior space and comfort. The rear bench seats are far better shaped too, finally giving enough thigh support for longer journeys. Driver footwell is still cramped as before, though. Boot space is unchanged and is slightly smaller than the 3 Series.
Now the most expensive option in the class, the W206 is down on value especially against the Volvo S60, if less so the BMW 3 Series. Still, by looks and interior ambiance alone, the C-Class is worth every penny. Top class ride comfort is the pleasant icing on the cake for what is an extremely competent package.