MERCEDES C200 CGI REVIEW
The C200 CGI replaced the C200 Kompressor earlier this year, and is marketed under Mercedes-Benz’s eco-friendly BlueEfficiency badge.
Engine size is unchanged at 1.8 litres, but torque rises from the Kompressor’s 250Nm to the CGI’s 270Nm.
Power output remains at 135kW, but, thanks to the move from supercharging with port injection to a turbocharger with direct injection, fuel consumption and carbon emissions drop.
What’s the appeal?
Benz prestige at an affordable price point: that's the nub of its appeal. The C200 CGI is also the most efficient petrol engine in the range, using just 1.0 l/100km more than the thriftiest diesel – the C220 CDI.
What features does it have?
Standard on the C200 CGI are auto-on windscreen wipers, dusk-sensing headlamps, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, trip computer, Bluetooth connectivity, auxillary audio inputs for external music players, heated wing mirrors and parking sensors.
Our test car was also equipped with the optional Vision Package, which includes a 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium stereo system, bi-xenon headlamps and a glass sunroof.
What’s under the bonnet?
Benz’s M271 1.8 litre petrol four-cylinder has been comprehensively reworked. It now boasts new heads with direct injection plus a turbocharger instead of a supercharger.
Power output peaks at 135kW, and its 270Nm of torque is spread between a very useable 1800rpm and 4600rpm.
A five-speed tiptronic automatic is the only gearbox offered, taking drive to the rear wheels.
The front suspension uses MacPherson struts while the rear has an independent multi-link system.
The C200 CGI’s brake package features disks at each corner, with ABS, EBD and brake assist enhancing stopping performance.
How does it drive?
The new engine is surprisingly zesty for its modest size (and the weight it is moving). Its power and torque is "just right", certainly ample for the needs of the average driver, including on-ramp sprints and the occasional speedy overtake.
Unfortunately, its pep is not matched by the five-speed auto, which makes ponderous shifts and whose widely-spaced ratios don’t quite mesh with the engine’s power curve.
It’s also slow to react under so-called ‘garage’ conditions – such as when shifting from drive to reverse and back again.
On the plus side, the ride is supple, with keen turn-in via the variable-ratio rack.
With a nice blend of comfort and sportiness, the C-Class’ chassis has plenty of dynamic appeal without resorting to a typically-German over-sprung suspension tune.
What did our passengers think?
There’s enough space inside for four adults (five, at a pinch), but the C200’s cabin isn’t especially big.
Rear headroom is a little tight, and rear legroom is in short supply when taller folk are seated up front. There's also a lack of lateral support in the front seat squab and backrest.
That said, all seats are comfortable (even the centre rear position) and each seat on the rear bench has its own individual headrest.
The perforated Artico artificial leather upholstery feels both premium and hard-wearing, while the partially-electric front seats have plenty of adjustability.
Interior quality and feel
Like every Mercedes-Benz, the C200 CGI is a quality package.
The interior design and material choices may be ageing somewhat, but everything is screwed together tightly and we heard no rattles nor witnessed any loose-fitting trim.
From the glovebox to the doors, anything that opens and shuts does so with a positive feel. The Benz reputation for vault-like build quality is still very much in evidence here.
Some aspects of the interior do mar the experience however. The rubbery plastic that covers the front cupholders gets dirty easily, and the tiny LCD display screen can be hard to read.
Seats up, the boot spaces measures in at 475 litres. The 60/40 split fold rear seats allow larger items to be loaded, with the backrest folding flush with the boot floor.
How safe is it?
The W204 C-Class has earned a 5-Star crash safety rating under Euro NCAP testing, and features ABS, traction control, stability control and Mercedes-Benz’s Pre-Safe system as standard.
The front seats are equipped with anti-whiplash headrests, while a total of nine airbags (front, side, curtain and driver’s knee) protect occupants in a crash.
Fuel consumption and green rating
Mercedes-Benz says the C200 CGI drinks just 7.3 l/100km on the combined cycle, however our testing returned an average of 9.3 l/100km.
It’s still a decent figure considering the C200’s 1.5-tonne kerb weight, but an extra ratio (or two) in the gearbox would help lower fuel consumption.
The Federal Government’s Green Vehicle Guide rates the C200 CGI 7 stars out of 10 for CO2 emissions, and 8.5 stars out of 10 for particulate emissions.
How does it compare?
On the flipside, the Lexus has a cramped interior that’s rapidly dating.
At a starting price of $56,490, it’s only marginally cheaper than the Mercedes, but it does offer better value than the $55,300 BMW 320i.
Compared with the Mercedes the BMW doesn’t feel quite as upmarket, while the A4 1.8 is the only one of the bunch that doesn’t enjoy a RWD drivetrain.
All new Mercedes Benz cars come with a three-year unlimited kilometre warranty, which covers both parts and labour costs of any repairs under warranty.
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is available in three non-metallic and nine metallic colours. Colour choices are generally conservative, with the usual black, white and silver accompanied by various subdued shades of blue, burgundy and beige.
How much does it cost?
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz C200 CGI retails for $57,900, before on-road costs.
Although its engine lacks the outright grunt of the C350’s V6 and the extra torque of the C250 CGI’s high-output 1.8 litre, the C200 CGI is more than adequate for day-to-day driving.
The C200 is let down by its antiquated gearbox, however that’s the only black mark on an otherwise spotless driving experience. The C200 CGI is as easy to pilot around a shopping centre carpark as it is along a twisting country road.
As a base model, it’s particularly impressive. The interior boasts enough luxury and comfort to make buyers think twice about forking over the cash for the more expensive models in the range, and the standard equipment list is comprehensive enough for the average buyer.
As a relatively cheap entry point into Mercedes-Benz ownership, the C200 CGI makes a very strong case for itself.
If you’ve got no need for big power or fancy in-car gizmos, the C200 comes highly recommended.
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