Spearheading luxury’s four-cylinder future
by Craig Cole
No automaker is immune to the ever-increasing call for greater fuel economy, not even Mercedes-Benz
. One might think this highly regarded luxury brand would be able to elude CAFE legislation like mysterious aircraft hijacker B.D. Cooper has evaded police, but that’s simply not the case. Laws apply to everyone, even those that are more equal than the rest of us.
To keep pace with government decrees to save fuel and consumer desire cut costs, the company just dropped a turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the prow of its popular C-Class model, Mercedes’ top-selling nameplate in the United States. Has the patient survived this powertrain transfusion, or are drivers eternally banished to the slow lane? Thankfully there’s nothing to worry about; this car is ready for the Autobahn.
LESS CAN BE MORE
It may only displace a featherweight 1.8-liters but the engine in the C250 sedan is full of surprises. With a blower and direct fuel injection it delivers 201 horsepower with 229 lb-ft of torque, numbers that on paper are pretty disappointing. Many engines of similar displacement from competing automakers put out significantly more ponies and twist, but this little dynamo impresses in more ways than one.
Despite its tiny-tot size it pulls like a team of horses. It’s strong, even at low engine speeds. The car accelerates nicely from a standstill and it keeps on pulling throughout the rev-range. It’s impressively flexible and feels like it’s delivering about 250 horsepower.