Mercedes-Benz C-Class: A look at its journey in India
Mercedes-Benz India is all set to launch the new C-Class on May 10, bookings for which have already begun. While the nameplate is now in its fifth generation, what made the very first C-Class so desirable is that it enabled a new audience to experience the opulence and exclusivity associated with Mercedes-Benz, something which was only accessible to customers at the higher-end of the spectrum earlier. It is the volumes of the C-Class, right along those of the E-Class, that have made Mercedes-Benz the mammoth that it is today in the luxury segment, after the rocky start that they first experienced when they set up shop in India back in 1994. And that is precisely why we are going back in time and taking a look at the generations of the C-Class in India.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class W203: The beginning
The W203 C-Class made its debut in 2001, and to put it in one word, it looked gorgeous! Unlike the W124 E-Class, the C-Class was launched here with a new design. With its smooth, flowing lines devoid of any dramatic cuts or creases, the C-Class reminded you of its bigger siblings. It was even offered in a supercharged variant with a 1.8-litre petrol unit under the hood, famously known as the Kompressor. The W203 C-Class was also offered in two standard trims — the C 180 with a 2-litre petrol engine, and the C 200 with a 2.2-litre diesel, both mated to either a 6-speed manual (manual!) or an automatic transmission. The ‘Baby Benz’, as it was called back then, was immensely popular amongst customers, given that it resembled the much more expensive S-Class when on the move.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class W204: Moving up in the world
The W203 C-Class was replaced by the W204 internationally, and this generation made it to our shores in 2008. Along with a more contemporary design, the W204 made use of an Intelligent Light Technology which could adapt to various driving and light conditions. This model was offered in two different trims — the Avantgarde trim with slightly sportier elements and an Elegance trim with a focus on luxury. It continued to get the tried and tested 1.8-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel engines which were updated for this gen. And if you were an enthusiast, there was always the C63 AMG with a 6.2 V8 to put a massive grin on your face! In 2011, the C-Class received a facelift, with a sharper front end that consisted of new bumpers and DRLs, 17-inch alloy wheels with a new design and a dual-tone paint scheme. Some bits were refreshed on the inside as well, such as the new steering wheel design with three-spokes and integrated controls and the C also got a new transmission – a 7-speed automatic replacing the earlier five-speed. This C-Class also debuted Mercedes-Benz’ CGI technology on their petrol engines, allowing better performance and efficiency.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class W205: Easier on the eyes
Mercedes-Benz launched the W205 C-Class in India in 2014. The W205 was also dimensionally larger than its predecessor and it got softer styling which made it easier on the eye. The car maker continued to tweak the W205 from time to time, and while it was only offered in a sole C 200 spec at launch, Mercedes-Benz later added more variants. You had a 2-litre petrol and a 2.1-litre diesel on offer, the latter being offered in two states of tune. There were also two sporty trims – the hardcore C63 S AMG that the Ed demonstrated a drift tutorial in, and the C43 AMG.
In 2018, the W205 got a facelift and also new engines, with a 1.5-litre mild-hybrid turbo petrol and a smaller 2-litre diesel. Their run however was short-lived, the 1.5-litre petrol engine being replaced by a conventional 2-litre unit with the 2020 facelift. But if that might sound too plain Jane, Mercedes-Benz clearly restored the balance with the introduction of the Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupe that we bonfired the rear tyres off as powered out of the 2020 lockdown.
Which brings us to the new C-Class. The luxury sedan is no longer Mercedes-Benz' entry-level offering in India, but it surely is one of the products responsible for turning around the luxury carmaker’s fortunes in the country. At one point, the C-Class was also responsible for nearly half of Merc's sales in the country!
With all its attributes, the C-Class is still one of the most popular models in the Mercedes-Benz lineup even today, one that has spawned sportier AMG variants and equivalent SUV models over the years. And while all the details of the new C-Class are already out, we honestly cannot wait to get behind the wheel – stay tuned for our review!