Benz C220 CDI Long Termer - January 2009

Aside from a surging wave of turbocharged torque summoned at the flex of an ankle, the big difference between our new C220 CDI and recently retired C200K Estates is in the area of ride and handling.

Quite why this should be the case remains the subject of some speculation, as neither car is fitted with the optional Dynamic Handling Package, and both ride on the 17-inch wheel and tyre package, albeit the former on a six-spoke AMG alloy, the latter on a five-spoke.

Perhaps there's a weight difference between the supercharged petrol four and the turbocharged diesel four.

Regardless, and despite the absence of a plausible explanation from Benz HQ, I'm convinced that the new diesel rides more softly and has a touch less suspension discipline than its predecessor. The difference was first noticed over speed humps, where the nose of the CDI gives an extra nod where the Kompressor's suspension would restrict any extra oscillation. You notice it when cornering too, with the CDI proving marginally less accurate through bends, running a little wider and being moved off line that bit more easily by humps and bumps in the road.

The trade-off for this somewhat less disciplined handling is superior ride quality. The C200K was never overly firm, at least not in the manner of a 3 Series on run-flats, but there is a discernible difference between the two, and comfort-oriented drivers will favour the 220 CDI.

Surprisingly, given assumptions about diesels and turbo-lag, the CDI feels like it steps off the mark more assertively than the 200K, and you tend to waft along in it, using less throttle than was required to keep the revvier supercharged four on the boil.

I've also found that where I mostly drove with the 200K's five-speed auto in 'sport' mode, to sharpen throttle response, the diesel feels more at home in 'comfort'.

Date acquired: Nov 2008
Kilometres this month: 1185
Total kilometres: 2119
Av. fuel consumption: 9.1L/100km
Maintenance: nil

As expected, the chance to get the diesel out of town and onto the open road brought instant efficiency improvements, with last month's 10.3L/100km average falling to a 9.1L/100km. This figure came via a 448km urban fill at 10.4L/100km, and a 737km mixed urban/rural at 8.3L/100km.

Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.

Want free access to 5 years of Wheels archive content? Sign up now!