New Mercedes-Benz C-Class engine is a belter!
IT'S A little belter, the engine of the updated Mercedes-Benz C200, in a very literal way.
The completely new 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo of the most affordable C-Class has a 48-volt hybrid set-up that delivers a power boost via belt-drive.
Mercedes engineers call it BSG (Belt-drive Starter/Generator) for short and it gives a power and torque kick right where a small four needs it most … at low revs.
Expect to see similar 48V mild-hybrid tech on more and more small four-cylinder petrol engines from Mercedes-Benz.
Once the new C200's 1.5-litre is spinning fast, it can deliver the same maximum power as the turbo 2.0-litre four it replaces. The BSG stops it feeling weak and weedy while the engine is in the low end and middle of its rev range.
From the driver's seat it's practically impossible to tell the engine is a tiddler. The updated C200 sedan gets along very well.
The extra 10kW and 160Nm endowed by the BSG add snap to the way the medium-size Mercedes steps off from standstill. It cruises easily, with its nine-speed auto doing a good job of selecting the right ratios, and there's urge enough for overtaking slow-moving traffic.
The new engine is always smooth and mostly quiet. Only when pushed close to maximum revs does it sound louder than it should.
More than just adding oomph to performance, the BSG also handles the role of starter motor. As it's more powerful than a conventional starter motor, it delivers quick and smooth take-offs for the auto stop-start. Smart software switches over to its electricity-generation role when the Mercedes is coasting, cutting another small slice off fuel consumption.
Powertrain engineer Patrick Hawig says Mercedes decided to invest a lot in the engine of the new C200 because it expects this version to be the best-selling C-Class of all globally, making it the obvious candidate for maximum efficiency improvement measures.
The C-Class has been the brand's best-selling car for the past decade, accounting for about 20 per cent of sales.
More costly C-Class versions, such as the C300, turbo diesel C220d and the hot C43 have all-new or upgraded engines. But none of them received quite as much research-and-development love as the C200.
In the C300, the turbo 2.0-litre four is closely related to the 1.5 but lacks its 48V hybrid tech. The 2.0-litre turbo diesel is new to the C-Class but is basically a cut-down version of Mercedes' latest turbo diesel in-line six. The 3.0-litre V6 of the hot C43 has a slightly larger turbocharger that pushes max power up slightly to 287kW.
According to Mercedes-Benz, this is the biggest C-Class update ever, with nearly 6500 new parts. This is an impressive number but the extent of the newness isn't obvious at first glance.
Headlights and tail-lights are of a new design but this is the kind of detail only car-nerds are likely to notice.
Inside, the changes are more obvious. The C-Class adopts Mercedes-Benz's attractive new steering wheel design, the centre screen is larger than before and another screen gives the driver instrument layout options, even in the base C200.
The C-Class's impressive package of advanced driver aids and safety also steps up a level. For example, it gets the latest version of the company's excellent Distronic active cruise control.
Still, all the changes don't alter the fundamental character of the C200. This is a classy car, with the kind of handling, ride, build quality, looks and all-round refinement that makes driving a pleasure, undiminished by the mild hybrid set-up.
The new C-Class range arrives in Australia in August. Prices will rise slightly compared to the current version, says a Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman, meaning the C200 is likely to start from about $65,000.
PRICE $65,000 (est)
WARRANTY 3 years/unlimited km
SAFETY 5 stars
ENGINE 1.5-litre 4-cyl, 48V belt-drive, electric motor, 135kW/280Nm
TRANSMISSION 9-speed auto; RWD
THIRST 6.3L/100km (est)
0-100KM/H 7.7 secs