The C220 CDI can trace its lineage back to the venerable Mercedes-Benz 190d of the 1980s, but it’s a mark of just how far diesels have come that the C220 can match 8.4-second 0-62 mph times with combined economy of 64.2 mpg.
That makes the C220 CDI something of a jack-of-all-trades, and long-time fans of Mercedes will be pleased that economy and performance aren’t the only factors that can be traced back to days of yore.
The same qualities extend to the styling - which is subtle but attractive, in the silver finish and Executive SE spec as tested here - and the build quality, the car feeling as solid and tactile as you’d wish from the three-pointed star.
Less typical is this car’s six-speed manual gearbox. Though it lacks the smooth and easy characteristics of Mercedes’ excellent auto transmissions, it wasn’t too much of a chore to slot between ratios, and provides a worthy (and cheaper) alternative to those not yet weaned onto self-shifters.
The 2.1-litre diesel’s useful torque helps by keeping necessary gear-changing to a minimum. Mercedes quotes a power output of 170 horsepower, and torque of 295 pounds-feet from only 1,400rpm. The engine is smooth, quiet and punchy, and while official economy figures are notoriously hard to hit there’s no doubt it’d be frugal on long motorway journeys.
Ride and handling are both perfectly good too. The suspension takes bumps in its stride, yet the C doesn’t feel all at sea in the corners, with accurate steering and good grip. Larger wheels and lower-profile tyres trade some of that compliance for a little more bite, but at most speeds you’ll barely notice. We’d tend to opt for the better-riding options to deal with broken British tarmac.
Price as tested: £33,810
CO2: 117 g/km
While pricing on our car was a little steep thanks to expensive options (Mercedes’ COMAND infotainment system is the best part of two grand), the un-adorned car costs a more reasonable £28,305, competitive with rivals from BMW and Audi.
Whether you’d choose the Merc over its German rivals is probably down to personal preference. When we tested the new BMW 320d
though, we weren’t over-enamoured, so we’d probably give the Mercedes the nod from that particular duo.
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