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In Brief: Mercedes-Benz C-Class (2018 Facelift, W205) – Still worth your attention?

Mercedes-Benz C300 facelift W205 Malaysia

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is rather long in the tooth. The current W205 generation was first launched in Malaysia in September 2014, and a replacement is overdue. Both the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, and Volvo S60 have since moved on to new generation platform models.

To keep it competitive, the aging W205 Mercedes-Benz C-Class was recently given a mid-life update in 2018.

Mercedes-Benz C200 facelift W205 Malaysia

What’s the price of the W205 Mercedes-Benz C-Class facelift?

Prices range from RM 259,888 to RM 304,888 for the locally-assembled (Pekan, Pahang) C200 and C300 sedan variants – the ones most people will buy.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class W205 facelift price Malaysia

Beyond these, there are also the imported coupe variants and the range topping Mercedes-AMG C63 S sedan.

What was changed in the W205 Mercedes-Benz C-Class facelift?

The entry Mercedes-Benz C200 was given a new EQ Boost 48V mild hybrid, turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine. It makes 184 hp and 280 Nm, which is further boosted by a 13 hp electric motor. Mercedes-Benz doesn't provide a combined output figure for the engine+motor combo.

The 1.5-litre EQ Boost engine replaces the previous car’s 2.0-litre turbocharged unit (184 hp/300 Nm). On paper, the newer but smaller capacity engine appears to be a downgrade, but it actually drives better than the previous 2.0-litre unit, thanks to the electric motor's instantaneous torque delivery.

In terms of styling, the most obvious difference between the pre-facelift and facelift models are the headlights and tail lights. 

Overseas market Avantgarde model shown. Some details like wheels may differ. 

Mercedes-Benz C-Class W205 facelift

C200 Avantgarde (left) and C300 AMG Line (right), differentiated by the headlamps and grille.

The C200 and C300 gets different LED headlights though, with regular adaptive LEDs on the former and more sophisticated anti-dazzle MultiBeam ones one the latter.

C200's regular LEDs (left) and C300's MultiBeam (right).

Inside, the facelifted C-Class also gets a new infotainment, digital instrument panel and a slightly different steering wheel (buttons are new, with chrome inlays). Gone are the high gloss piano black plastics, replace with wood but a small number of (runout batch) pre-facelift models already had this anyway. 

Mercedes-Benz C-Class W205 facelift

Mercedes-Benz C-Class W205 facelift interior

Overseas market model shown. Malaysian market models get a classy looking analogue clock. 

Mercedes-Benz C-Class W205 facelift interior

Mercedes-Benz C200 W205 facelift

The base Mercedes-Benz C200 (price: RM 259,888) get the following features:

  • New LED headlamps (adaptive)
  • New LED tail lamps
  • 18-inch wheels
  • Audio 20 infotainment with 10.25-inch screen, supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • 12.3-inch digital instrument panel
  • Blind spot monitor
  • Open-pore grey oak wood trim
  • Agility Control suspension (passive, adaptive - no selectable modes)
  • Dynamic Select drive modes (Comfort, Sport, Eco, Custom - engine and transmission only)
  • Cruise control (non-adaptive)  

The mid-range Mercedes-Benz C250, which was the best C-Class variant to buy, is no longer offered and this is the biggest setback with the facelifted C-Class range.

With no middle-ground sweet spot, customers who don’t want the base model C200 will now have to make a bigger leap to either the 258 hp/370 Nm C300 (2.0-litre turbocharged) or the 3.0-litre bi-turbo V6 C43 (390 hp/520 Nm).

Mercedes-Benz C300 W205 facelift Malaysia

The higher range Mercedes-Benz C300 (price: RM 304,888) adds:

  • 19-inch AMG wheels
  • Airmatic air suspension (active, adaptive)
  • MultiBeam LED headlamps (matrix LED, anti-glare high beam)
  • AMG Line exterior styling package
  • Lane keeping assist (warning and corrective steering)
  • AMG Line interior styling
  • Burmester sound system
  • Panoramic sunroof
  • Powered front seats
  • 360-degree camera
  • Active Park Assist (perpendicular and parallel parking)
  • Autonomous emergency braking (Active Brake Assist)

All variants of the C-Class now use a 9-speed automatic transmission.

What are the Pros and Cons of the new W205 Mercedes-Benz C-Class facelift?

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first. The most obvious concern is of course, its age. So make sure you get a decent discount out of it.

Next is its comfort. You would think that being a Mercedes-Benz, comfort would be its forte, but that’s no longer the case with today’s Mercedes-Benz cars.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class facelift W205

Despite wearing the Mercedes-Benz badge, ride comfort isn't that great

That’s understandable if the new C-Class handles twisty roads well but the problem is that it doesn’t.

Even in the C300 with Airmatic suspension, ride comfort and handling is only marginally better.

Cabin quietness also isn’t that great either, and this is one area the Audi A4 still trumps.

Against the newer G20 BMW 3 Series, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is completely outclassed in terms of ride comfort and handling. Having said that, the G20 is not as comfortable as the previous F30 generation BMW 3 Series, although it now handles a lot sharper.

So should you strike off the C-Class from your list and go for the newer 3 Series? Not so fast.

Mercedes-Benz C200 EQ Boost mild hybrid engine

The C200’s EQ Boost drivetrain provides a delightful experience. Frugal, punchy, smooth, thanks to the always available on-demand torque from the EQ Boost electric motor, the C200 facelift performs a lot better than before.

The larger capacity C300 will of course, drive even better. The exhaust note sounds wonderful when pushed.

The Airmatic suspension improves ride and handling slightly but if you intend to keep your car for many years, Airmatic is not what you would want as replacements (which you will need to do at some point) are very expensive, even when judged by the standards of premium compact sedans. 

When pitted against the BMW 330i, whose 8-speed automatic when in Sport mode gives a DCT-like exhaust fart at every upshift, the Mercedes-Benz C300 is not as great.

However where the C-Class will pull a clear lead over the 3 Series is its interior fittings. The new Audio 20 infotainment and digital instrument panel makes the C-Class look a lot younger but more importantly, it works.

The BMW 3 Series' Live Cockpit Pro instrument panel is probably the worst we’ve ever experienced in any recent car. The display is cluttered with information overload, and the opposite facing dials are difficult to read.

Why use a digital instrument panel if the driver can’t change the simulated analogue dials? Is it necessary to duplicate the same information that’s already shown on the infotainment screen?

The fact that the C-Class doesn’t come with MBUX while the 3 Series has BMW Assistant doesn’t really bother us. The Mercedes-Benz doesn’t have fancy voice commands but at least it’s got the basics right. Having Android Auto/Apple CarPlay is good enough for us.

We also like the C-Class’ cabin materials – especially the C300’s AMG Line interior. Despite its age, it still feels a tad more expensive than the newer BMW.

Leg and shoulder room in the back seat is acceptable but if interior space is important to you, it is best that you look to the Lexus ES. There is no other premium sedan in this price range that does a better job at carrying five adults in comfort. 

Conclusion

If you are shopping for something within the circa RM 250k range, the Mercedes-Benz C200 is clearly the one to have, but that’s mostly due to a lack of better options.

Since BMW has yet to re-introduce the 320i for the G20 generation and the Audi A4 1.4 TFSI is no more, the Mercedes-Benz C200 is the one-eyed king in the land of the blind, but a win is a win.

If you can look beyond the badge, the facelifted Mazda 6 2.5L is a superior product in nearly every aspect except for the badge (and it’s a lot more reliable too), but you won’t consider it because badge appeal is crucial right?

In the circa RM 300k range, the BMW 330i is better to drive but which keen driver puts up with a poorly laid out instrument panel? For all that money, you don't even get any advanced driving aids, something which many lower range cars already have. 

The Volvo S60 T8 is an even better option if you can accept the slightly less premium Volvo badge. For a similar price, you get far better performance and an even nicer interior than the Mercedes-AMG C43.  

What about the Audi A4 then? It’s a fine premium product but the dealer network is weak. However if you are already prepared to deal with a poorer dealer network, the Volvo S60 T8 is the better buy.

Viewed purely from a product standpoint, the Volvo is the best but in terms of overall ownership experience, Volvo dealers can't quite match the more established BMW and Mercedes-Benz, which also offers flexible financing options – from traditional financing to leasing/balloon financing, some of which will cover road tax, insurance, and maintenance, even for pre-owned models.