A road trip has many elements – where to dine, where to stay, what to visit, and multiple other things. However, the most important – and overlooked – element is the car itself. We test the Mercedes C-Class to see how it fares on rocky, winding roads of hilly northern India
By: Somnath Chatterjee
Posted on: June 16, 2022
Sometimes you need to step back from the hamster wheel to recharge yourself. Especially with summer at its peak in New Delhi, I pined for the cool mountain air along with yearning for a drive amidst the hills. So, a plan was hatched and, for my escape from the burning temperatures of Delhi, I needed the right canvas which came in form of the new C-Class. It is perhaps the most important launch for Mercedes in terms of sheer sales volumes. Its lofty claims of enhanced luxury along with technology seemed enough justification to test it out in the hills of Uttarakhand.
The 'Queen of Hill stations' was our first stop and Mussoorie happens to be situated near Dehradun while being a massive tourist attraction. Hence, traffic snarls are common due to tourists thronging this place, but the new C-Class cabin was a calm place to be while navigating through the narrow roads strewn with rocks. My first encounter was with the C300d and that's the more performance focused version.
A cursory glance at its purposeful styling indicates its sportier pretentions and the racier wheels do gel well with its pumped-up styling. A torque rich diesel powertrain provides a tempting canvas on which to exploit the wonderful hill roads leading up to Kanatal. While it is only about 50km north, the route takes the better part of two hours due to the twisting roads and the nature of the terrain. On dry tarmac, the C300d delights with its immense grip and larger wheels which dig deep into the roads in terms of the grip offered. A big change from the earlier C-Class is the increased poise and more dynamic polish being dialled into this luxury sedan. You do have to be careful of the lower profile tyres on these roads though and also of the low ground clearance of the car. That said, it was indeed quite fun to hurl this sedan like a sports car over these winding roads.
Kanatal offers spectacular views and the roads are dissected by large swathes of forest area. The cool mountain air instantly wafts in while the scenery is quite gorgeous – a contrast to the urban jungles that we like to confine ourselves in. It also served as the perfect place to stop and gawk at the sleek new lines of the car. The design of the C-Class shows how it has moved up within the Mercedes hierarchy to further make room for the A-Class limousine below. The AMG addenda further ramps up the glamour quotient with its wider intakes and black detailing contrasting nicely with the white hue on our test car.
If anything, the interior seems to have been lifted from S-Class wholesale and that's a compliment. The large portrait-oriented screen is the nerve centre of the car and controls all of the functions while personalizing everything via separate profiles accessed by fingerprint recognition. The trim and quality of materials used are quite fantastic while eclipsing rivals on this front. We do, however, wish for more space at the back.
If anything, the interior seems to have been lifted from S-Class wholesale and that's a compliment.
On the way to Dehradun airport, the drive was more focused and less about admiring the scenery with all of the 265 horses being put to task. There is further electrical assistance being deployed to add more power in specific situations and that adds to the sharp reflexes of this car. The taut steering and ample power also makes it a driver's car and the new one does take things higher in that regard. The petrol C-Class is a bit more restrained in comparison and instead puts the focus on comfort and luxury rather than outright pace.
At one point it seemed that we would miss our return flight from Dehradun but a spirited drive instead made us beat the estimated time of arrival by one hour! The new C-Class takes the role of being a 'mini S-Class' rather seriously and for us, the brief foray into the mountains was food for our soul.