Mercedes C30 CDI AMG test
Intro: THE FIRST SPORT DIESEL
At first glance, this Class C station is nothing to write home about. And yet, Mercedes is banking on revolutionising the segment of mid-line sport cars.
Esthetique: SPORTING STLYE
This AMG station is the twin sister of the gas model. Compared to the standard model, the body has been lowered by 3 centimetres and includes an optical kit comprised of xenon lamps. The other distinct characteristics are the double branch rims and the 17-inch pneumatic assembly, necessary for housing over-dimensioned brakes. The assembly lives up to Mercedes reputation and the series equipment is ultra complete. The seats fit like gloves; the black leather and aluminium inserts add a sporty touch. Too bad that the drivers station is the same as that of the classic version.
Motorization: THE MOST PRODUCTIVE ON THE MARKET
The hood hides a bona fide gas factory equipped with a pipeline system that increases cooling capacity of the air, which feeds the turbo engine, thereby improving performance. At AMG, the motto is "one man, one engine". Each block is assembled by only one technician who signs a plaque, which is mounted on the cylinder head. This C 30 is no exception to the rule. This is not a bargain AMG, as you can see by the top rate technical specifications. The 5-cylinder in-line engine of this 2,950 cc offers up to 231 horsepower and 540 Nm of torque. This just happens to be, at the time we go to press, the best quality-price ratio for a diesel engine on the market. One just needs to get used to its somewhat noisy quality, but in terms of power, youve got it made.
On the road: (ALMOST) LIKE A GAS ENGINE
The engineers have worked on the chassis and the brake system on the gas model, which can now support 380 hp. Road behaviour is, as such, void of any merited criticism and the car handles like a dream in some back country in Southern France, where driving isnt always a picnic. The brakes never showed any sign of weakness whatsoever.
However, the 100 Nm of additional torque compared to the gas version dont go down all that easy with the transmission. Even on dry track, youll have to carefully calibrate the acceleration unless you want to see the anti-sliding system kick in brutally. And it takes time for this system to deactivate, to the point where you almost have to stop the car.
The spicy quality to this engine means that youll get tired real fast of the sequential mode of the gear box, because the maximum speed is reached so quickly that you always have to try and anticipate changing gears at the right time. A lot of effort for results, which are not always convincing. You might as well stay in drive mode.
And the same can be said for the ESP. It has been set to go off rather late so as not to ruin your driving pleasure. And since it never totally deactivates, youd be silly not to give it a try.
The C30 CI is a well-controlled exercise in style. Designed with the same precision as the other AMG models, it offers driving pleasure that is almost identical.
Sold at 56,100 for the station version, thats almost 10,000 cheaper than the gas model and maintenance costs have been significantly reduced. In exchange, youll just have to accept an engine which gives up in cold weather and which makes some rather unsophisticated noises. Really almost unmentionable drawbacks compared to whats being offered.
This concept car should give the competition some new ideas. In the next few months, we wouldnt be surprised to see a BMW M3 or an Audi S4 with a diesel engine...