If you’re car shopping in the RM 300k range, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is likely to show up under your radar. Perhaps you’ve already been to the showroom, and one of the features highlighted by the salesperson was the Airmatic suspension. But what makes it a USP of the Mercedes-Benz C300?
Airmatic Suspension is Mercedes-Benz’s term for their air suspension. Compared to traditional strut suspension, there are no coil springs or shock absorbers on air suspension systems. Instead, it uses bags made of rubber and polyurethane filled with air. These are essentially air bags hence the name air suspension.
Now, the atmospheric pressure isn’t enough to hold the weight of the car. So a compressor needs to be fitted to pump air to the bags. The compressor will adjust the air pressure accordingly through a hydraulic or an electronic system that can be controlled by the driver.
Air suspension also allows the ride height to be manipulated, the suspension can be raised to increase ground clearance or lowered to minimize wind drag. It is also useful when the car is loaded or when there are passengers on board as it maintains the ride height.
In the C300 with Airmatic Suspension (the only car in its segment with air suspension), there is a switch to alter the mode of the car, which Mercedes calls Agility Select switch. Drivers can choose from Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Eco and Individual. These modes will affect the suspension firmness, softer for a comfortable ride, or a stiffer and more sporty drive.
It all sounds good in theory, comfortable when you want it and sporty when the mood takes you. However, it may be a different story in execution because not all air suspensions are built the same.
Some reviewers have stated that the air suspension in the C300 is neither here nor there, it feels floaty on the highways but doesn’t iron out sharp edges very well. Some mentioned that it is an improvement over the standard suspension on the C200, especially on undulating highways.
Ultimately, the best way of knowing for sure is to test drive one and feel it for yourself. Sometimes perspective plays a significant role in how we judge suspension or cars in general as we drive different cars, and only you would know what your preferences are.
When it comes to maintenance and reliability though, those are different matters to discuss on another day.