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A Merc of distinction: Mercedes C-Class 2018 refresh

The Mercedes C-Class is one of the most popular premium compact saloons on sale, going up against the likes of the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. In fact, it's Mercedes' best-selling model - the German manufacturer registered 46,000 of them in 2017 alone.

To keep things current, the C-Class has been refreshed for 2018, ensuring it remains competitive. We tried it in C200 form, which uses a 1.5-litre petrol motor and something called EQ Boost technology (more on this later).

What's new?

The 2018 C-Class has been updated with a variety of new functions and touches. In AMG Line, as our test car was, you get a full exterior body styling package, heated sports seats and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The biggest change is the inclusion of a 10.25-inch infotainment screen. This can be combined with the optional 12.3-inch digital cockpit screen to create a really good-looking system - though not quite as pretty as the fully widescreen version you'll find in E and A-Class models. It also costs £2,795 extra and has to be specified as part of Mercedes' premium package.

What's under the bonnet?

As we mentioned, this C200 uses a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine to send power to - in this case - all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission. It's also available with rear-wheel drive.

Peak power output is 182bhp, and you get a useful 280Nm of torque too. Emissions are decent at 148g/km of CO2, and Mercedes claims that you'll get 53.3mpg on the combined cycle. The C220d (the most popular drivetrain) returns a claimed 61.4mpg combined and emits 121g/km.

Then there's EQ boost. This uses a 48-volt on-board power network with a belt-driven starter motor which can boost the car's power output - it throws an extra 14bhp in the mix.

It's a system you're likely to see applied to more Mercedes-Benz models in the future.

What's it like to drive?

The C-Class really needs to be able to handle all situations, be it a long motorway slog or a quick dart down a rutted B-road. Fortunately, it delivers in all areas. The ride is firm but well-damped, and the engine settles down to a distant thrum when you're travelling on the motorway. The steering lacks any real feel, but it remains accurate.

That new 1.5-litre engine does feel a touch underpowered for this size of car and is noisy under heavy acceleration.

If you're planning on frequent long journeys, we'd still look towards the diesel, despite the negative press oil-burners have been getting of late. That said, around town it feels quiet and refined.

How does it look?

The latest updates to the C-Class do make it into a much sharper-looking machine. The new single-bar grille gives it a purposeful appearance, while the overall effect of the AMG Line bodykit is to give the car just a little more presence and bring it closer to (in appearance) the full-blooded, high-performance AMG versions.

What's it like inside?

The interior of the C-Class is now dominated by that widescreen infotainment system, and it does help to lift the overall look and feel of the cabin. There are some harsher plastics to be found, but the overall fit and finish feels good enough. The seats are supportive for long-distance driving, and the rear seats offer up a decent amount of legroom.

The large, thin pop-cover for the storage area ahead of the rotary infotainment controller remains flimsy. It's a trim piece that we'd gladly see removed because it really does bring down the feel of the cabin.

What's the spec like?

Prices for the C200 in AMG Line trim start at £35,405, and for that you get 18-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels, parking sensors and a full connectivity package.

Of course, AMG Line cars also get a full exterior sports bodykit, as well as the nine-speed automatic gearbox.

Our test car did feature a few optional extras but, in truth, the base car is so well-specced that these are quite few and far between. Open-pore grey oak trim brought a £195 premium, while an Artico leather dash cost £400. The costliest option was the hyacinth red metallic exterior paint - a £895 extra. In total, our test car came in at £37,665, so not a huge amount more than the base price.

Verdict

The C-Class is comfortable over long distances, feels special enough both inside and out, and comes with plenty of standard equipment. This C200 model doesn't quite make as much sense as the diesel, particularly if you're planning on longer journeys. We'd understand if it offered rock-bottom emissions, but given that it emits more than a diesel while offering worse economy too, for now we'd recommend the oil-burner.

Facts at a glance

Model: Mercedes C200 4MATIC

Price: £39,415

Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol

Power (bhp): 182

Torque (Nm): 280

Max speed (mph): 145

0-60mph: 7.9 seconds

MPG: 53.3

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