£28,295 - £47,455 Price range
35 - 134 MPG
The Mercedes C-Class has always been one of the default choices when it comes to a premium, medium-sized saloon and this new model brings a whole new level of luxury, quality and equipment to the table. Facing some tough competition in the face of the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 Avant and Jaguar XE, the new C-Class has to be truly great to remain one of the best premium mid-size saloons.
Inside, it borrows a lot from the flagship S-Class and the overall feel is that of opulence and luxury. The materials used are of great quality and everything feels built to last. The new C-Class is bigger on the inside than the old model and there’s decent legroom, but headroom is not so impressive. The boot is identical in capacity to rivals and offers enough space for most needs.
Being lighter than its predecessor, the new C-Class is more agile and rides better. The optional air-suspension with selectable driving modes makes the C-Class almost as relaxing as the luxurious S-Class which is a lesson in comfort. It is not as fun to drive as the BMW 3 Series, though.
Engine choice is somewhat limited with the bulk being four-cylinder diesels. They are recommended by critics for those who cover a lot of miles, but are also criticised for being a bit noisy. The C350 e hybrid is an interesting proposition saving loads of money on running costs, but still being able to sprint from 0-62mph sprint in just 5.9 seconds. For those that want even more performance there is the quick C43 AMG, while the C63 AMG is something of a rocket ship.
Even the base model comes equipped with synthetic leather seats, dual-zone climate control, auto headlights and wipers, cruise control and a seven-inch colour display.
The interior takes some styling cues from the larger S-Class luxury car and the smaller A-Class. It features Mercedes’ signature circular air vents, a floating display screen and uncluttered dashboard – it’s arguably one of the most luxurious interiors in class.
It’s tactile, well-made and the huge number of optional electrical gizmos on offer gives you plenty to play with in traffic. DAB radio and Bluetooth are standard fitment, and the look changes depends on the trim level you pay for – some of the sportier options really do look great.
Mercedes C-Class passenger space
An increase in size over the previous car has liberated extra interior room, too. As you would expect, there is plenty of space in the front for adults and legroom in the rear is also decent. However, rear-seat passengers pay the price for the Mercedes’ stylish sloping roofline, which means headroom is not as generous as it could be.
All-round visibility is good for a compact saloon and certainly better than in the Jaguar XE. The only drawback is the rear window that is mounted so high that it can hide a small car driving behind you.
Mercedes C-Class boot space
The healthy 480-litre boot (identical to the 3 Series and Audi A4) should take care of day-to-day business gear, shopping trips or holiday luggage. Annoyingly, though, you’ll have to fork out £995 for 60:40 split-folding rear seats. They come as part of the Executive pack, which also includes sat-nav and heated front seats. If you need more room then there’s always the C-Class estate.
The new C-Class is lighter than its predecessor and this typically works wonders for ride and handling. Unlike its rival cars, Mercedes offers a £895 air suspension option for the C-Class and it makes the car more comfortable on motorways, but it sends sharper jolts through to the cabin that you wouldn’t get with normal suspension. If you want your C-Class to have the best ride quality possible, stay away from the larger alloy wheels.
It’s no 3 Series beater when it comes to handling though – the controls have a nice damped feel that takes some of the fun away, but makes you feel like driving something very expensive.
The Mercedes C-Class range predominantly features diesel power, but there’s also a high-powered petrol model and a petrol-electric hybrid.
Mercedes C-Class petrol engines
The C-Class engine range starts with a C200 turbocharged petrol. It will get you from a standing start to 62mph in 7.5 seconds and manages fuel economy of 50mpg.
In 2015 the range was joined by the C350e petrol-electric plug-in hybrid and the quick C43 AMG 4Matic, both of which come with a seven-speed automatic gearbox.
The former makes the most sense sense if you have a short commute because it can run for up to 19 miles on cheap battery power alone. Its CO2 emissions of just 48g/km mean it is free from paying London’s congestion charge. Go for a long run and the electric motor will help the C350e return fuel economy to match a diesel (but no where near the claimed 134.5mpg), while combining with the petrol engine to provide 275hp. That’s enough to get the Mercedes from 0-62mph in just 5.9 seconds.
The C43 AMG 4Matic is the car to go for if you want performance, but don’t want the huge running costs of the C 63 AMG. It gets from 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds and benefits from the extra grip of four-wheel drive. It’s one of the pricier models to run (you won’t get better than 37.2mpg and tax costs £225 a year), but that’s forgivable in a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6.
Mercedes C-Class diesel engines
The C200 Bluetec is the most economical pure diesel model, with fuel economy of up to 72.4mpg and the quicker C220 Bluetec isn’t far behind with a best of 70.6mpg. Power crests the 200bhp mark with the C250 Bluetec and at the top of the range is the C300 Bluetec diesel-electric Hybrid, developing almost 230bhp. At 78.5mpg, band A VED (road tax) and low BIK rates, this will be a popular choice with business buyers, though the regular diesels will be better if you’re buying private as they cost a lot less to buy.
A six-speed manual is standard, while Mercedes’ G-Tronic Plus seven-speed automatic is optional.
Economy and CO2 emissions are identical for both, at 51.4 mpg and 128 grams per kilometre. The latter figure means a VED band D rating, for a £105 annual bill. Performance is strong - the manual reaches 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, while the auto is 2 tenths quicker over the same sprint. The auto also does 146 mph, while the manual goes 1 mph quicker.
We'll have reviews for the new car soon, so keep your eyes peeled on carwow for a detailed assessment.
We can bring you statistics though: the 2.1-litre unit develops 170 PS and reaches 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, with the standard manual transmission. The auto is a dash quicker at 7.4 seconds to 60, while both reach 145 mph.
Economy will be the engine's main draw. With the six-speed manual, up to 70.6 mpg is possible, and CO2 emissions of 103 g/km mean a measly £20 VED bill. The auto keeps that band B rating, but it's ever so slightly thirstier at 65.7 mpg. Stick around on carwow for a full review soon.
You’d expect no less than a full five-star rating for the new C-Class in crash testing, and that’s what it gets.
Safety equipment includes adaptive cruise control that features automatic emergency braking and there’s also an optional Lane Departure Warning and Assist system to keep you in lane on the motorway. A speed limiter and a blind spot warning system are also available.
The standard infotainment system with sat-nav is Garmin-based and it looks a bit out of place in the premium interior – the graphics are dated, the menus confusing and the screen looks like an afterthought. The £2,995 optional COMAND system is more modern, but compared to rival systems from BMW and Audi it’s not really worth the premium. The C-Class infotainment is controlled by a rotary dial and a touchpad similarly to rivals but the hand-position you need to assume to operate it might give you RSI in the long run.
Mercedes E-Class SE
Even the basic SE trim comes with equipment such as an artificial leather interior, 16-inch alloy wheels, DAB radio with a seven-inch colour display, a reversing camera, climate control, plus automatic headlights and wipers.
Mercedes C-Class Sport
Sport models add lowered suspension, larger 17-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights. Inside, there’s also sat-nav and body-hugging sports seats.
Mercedes C-Class AMG Line
AMG line models get more of the same, with 18-inch alloy wheels, an AMG body kit and a more expensive interior with a part artificial leather covering for the dashboard and a sports steering wheel.
Mercedes offers a 4Matic four-wheel-drive upgrade for C 220 d and C 250 d models. This optional extra is priced at £1,500 more than standard rear-wheel-drive versions but does offer greatly increased traction – handy if you regularly tow a trailer.
C-Class reviews describe a strong performer that doesn’t quite match up to its BMW 3 Series rival overall. That’s mainly down to the way the new C-Class drives – it isn’t quite as enjoyable as the BMW.
However, it’s frugal, more spacious than before and has a beautiful cabin – all qualities that are sure to appeal to a buyer in this market.