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There are great many pleasures to be had in running a Mercedes-Benz as a long-termer, but I have to say reserved parking at the NH7 Weekender tops my list right now. The mega music festival came to Pune in the last week of November and my wife, the music buff that she is, gathered up her friends and cousins for a weekend over which temporary (I hope!) hearing damage was incurred. The problem with such festivals is always the parking (the lack of it!) and the traffic jams (no dearth of that!). So before meeting them to drop them home in the Mercedes-Benz C 220 CDI, they had to use rickshaws and then walk a couple of miles.
Turns out NH7 had some really good acts (Mark Ronson, whee!) so I was duly dragged out of my Sunday slumber to be subjected to eardrum damage. Also, turns out Mercedes-Benz is a sponsor of the festival and that means reserved parking right at the festival entrance. Big deal I hear you say. I thought so too, till I heard how the rest of the gang had to walk two miles from wherever they parked to make it to NH7. And worse, how they had to endure a two hour traffic jam on the way home while I was guided out of the back entrance and on to the highway. Am I glad there’s a Merc back in the fleet!
A little bit about ‘my’ Merc. This Mercedes-Benz C 220 CDI, is a car that even the Supreme Court has tagged ‘luxury’ because its four-cylinder diesel displaces over 2000cc (2143cc to be precise). And it deserves the tag. If you recall I ran an E-Class for six months earlier this year and I have to say the C has a better cabin. It has the new Merc design DNA that has filtered down from the S-Class and it makes the cabin look and feel far younger and stylish what Mercs usually were. Quality is fantastic and a particular highlight are the power window switches that are as beautifully damped as in the S-Class. This really is a baby S on the inside and particularly on the outside.
‘My’ car is from the very first lot of C-Class’ that came in to the country, via the CBU route – those ‘launch edition’ cars being equipped with the Burmester stereo. I believe that option doesn’t exist on the C-Class today, a shame because it sounds fantastic. Even the speaker grills look fantastic – shiny and expensive! Other highlights of the Mercedes-Benz C 220 CDI cabin? The steering has a nice meaty feel to it, the upgraded COMAND multimedia interface is much nicer and more intuitive to use, the storage bin under the armrest is enormous and Merc even throws in an iPhone charging cable. There’s even a touchpad though I haven’t found use for it yet, and in any case scribbling with my left hand isn’t going to be easy.
DL 8C AK 2208 has seen a hard life. The odometer is already showing 20,000km and all of it at the hands of magazine testers and bloggers. It’s probably done a stint as a long termer and it has the scars and scratches on the bumpers to show for it. I will have to get that sorted, my heart aches every time I see it. And the world probably thinks I am a crap driver, because one thing’s for sure, the C-Class does get you noticed.
On the dynamics front, the new Mercedes-Benz C 220 CDI has an aluminium intensive body and that gives it a tangible lightness that you can actually feel from behind the wheel. It has an easy gait and great steering, making it not only a breeze to pilot in the city but good fun when the road gets windy. However all that aluminium also means you get to hear a lot more tyre and road noise than in the previous C-Class. Unlike the previous C, this one runs on run-flat tyres (though Merc claims their run-flats can be repaired), which is why there’s no wheel-well in the boot and the space-saver spare eats into the boot space. And the boot isn’t all that big either which means we’ll have to pack light for our annual year ending road trip.