photoThe new version of the Mercedes-Benz C-class may look no different from the popular C 220d, but it has the C 250d badge on its boot and is actually the more powerful diesel version of the C-class sedan. It’s powered by the same 2.1-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine as the 220d, but thanks to the use of two turbochargers, the power and torque figures are a strong 204hp and 500Nm, respectively. The existing 220d, for comparison’s sake, makes 170hp and 400Nm. The 250d is also the first in the C-class range of cars to use the company’s latest 9G-Tronic nine-speed gearbox.

In terms of equipment, the C 250d sees the addition of ambient lighting for the cabin and an automatic park assist, over and above all the gadgets and features the C 220d Avantgarde variant comes with. In that sense, the C 250d is well equipped with luxury essentials such as LED lights, power seats, a panoramic sunroof, paddle shifters for the gearbox, satellite navigation and a reverse parking camera. Also on the list are selectable drive modes that alter engine, gearbox and steering characteristics. Like all new Mercs, the C 250d too comes with the Mercedes-Benz Apps package that allows you to browse the Internet and tune in to Internet radio via the central infotainment screen.

This apart, the C-class cabin excites with the luxury it offers. Right from the grain of wood used in the cabin to the high-quality power-window switches, everything looks and feels expensive. If we are to assume that anyone opting for the C 250d will take to driving duties often, s/he will really appreciate the comfort of the front seats. The seats are nice and supportive, and you can extend the cushioning on the seat base too. On the flip side, the rear seat feels a touch short, and the headroom at the back isn’t exceptional either. There is, however, a good deal of legroom on offer.

If you thought the C 220d was lacking in power, you won’t be disappointed by the C 250d. The engine is responsive at low revs, has a strong mid range and charges on quite effortlessly to 4,600 rpm should you keep the throttle pinned to the floor. What undoubtedly helps performance is the nine-speed auto gearbox. The close gear ratios and ease in shifting gears quickly allow for brisk acceleration from any speed. However, the gearbox won’t hold the same gear for too long even in the Sport+ drive mode. Enthusiasts might rue the absence of launch control (an electronic aid to assist drivers to accelerate from a standing start), something that its rival, the BMW 320d, comes with.

The C 250d registered a pretty impressive 0-100 kmph time of 7.89 seconds, which makes it faster than the C 220d. However, the launch-control equipped BMW 320d is quicker to reach 100 kmph, in 7.25 seconds.

But the C 250d is not just about big speed and power. It is a relaxing car to drive, be it for routine city commutes or for long highway cruises. The engine and gearbox adapt well to the driving style, and the engine noise is well-contained for the most part. The light and precise steering makes the C 250d easy to live with, even while tackling corners.

Like the other C-class models, you will note that the ride is slightly firm at low speeds and there’s also a fair amount of bounce induced by uneven roads when driving fast. On the whole, handling is good, but it could have been better with better-grip tyres, as the car’s Bridgestone Turanza rubber let out a squeal at the slightest hint of spirited driving.

The blanket ban on the sale of all cars with diesel engines over 2 litres means the C 250d isn’t eligible for sale in Delhi and in the National Capital Region. However, in markets where it is available, the C 250d makes for an interesting proposition. Its 44.36 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai) price tag makes the C 250d about 5 lakh costlier than the C 220d Avantgarde. But for the additional outlay, the C 250d does get a significantly more powerful engine and a sophisticated nine-speed gearbox, both of which contribute to provide a more involving driving experience. And that counts—the C 250d is an ideal pick for buyers who spend a good deal of time driving themselves. However, if it’s the back seat that you will be occupying for the most part, you could do just as well with the cheaper C 220d Avantgarde.