Mercedes C-Class vs Mercedes E-Class comparison

November 04, 2022 by

If you’re after a posh saloon car, Mercedes is probably one of the first brands which springs to mind. But which should you choose between the Mercedes C-Class and Mercedes E-Class? It can be a tricky decision, but this guide will walk you though the key differences to make things a bit simpler.

The E-Class sits above the C-Class in the Mercedes lineup, and is therefore a little larger, more refined and , as a result, more expensive. Both models can be had as more practical estates, which are roughly £2,000 more than their saloon counterparts. There are also convertible and two-door coupe versions of both the C and E-Class, though these should be treated as separate cars from their saloon and estate namesakes.

We’ll concentrate on the saloon versions of these cars here lest this guide becomes unwieldy. Read on to find out if it’s worth spending the extra.


Mercedes C-Class 

E200: 2.0-litre, 197hp
E450: 3.0-litre, 367hp
AMG E53 3.0-litre, 435hp
AMG E63 S: 4.0-litre, 612hp

E220 d: 2.0-litre, 197hp
E300 d: 2.0-litre, 265hp
E400 d: 3.0-litre, 330hp

Plug-in hybrid:

Diesel PHEV: E300 de: 2.0-litre plug-in, 194hp (engine), 122hp (E-motor), 34-35-mile official EV range
Petrol PHEV: E300 e, 2.0-litre plug-in: 211hp (engine), 122hp (E-motor), 34-35-mile official EV range

Mercedes C-Class

C200: 1.5-litre, 204hp
C300: 2.0-litre, 258hp
AMG C43: 2.0-litre, 408hp

C220d: 2.0-litre, 200hp
C300d: 2.0-litre, 265hp

Plug-in hybrid
Petrol PHEV: C300 e, 204hp (engine) 129hp (E-motor), 68-mile official EV range

All examples of the C-Class and E-Class have a nine-speed automatic gearbox, and both cars have full five-star crash-protection ratings from Euro NCAP.

The AMG models listed above are expensive, high-performance cars, and should not be confused with more ‘standard’ models; also note that Mercedes offers a popular trim level called ‘AMG Line’, which brings some of the visual trappings of the sporty cars, but without the fast, pricey engines.


Mercedes E-Class dimensions:

Length: 4,841mm
Width: 1,860mm
Height: 1,420mm
Boot space: 540 litres (PHEV = 315 litres due to batteries, Estate = 490 litres)

Mercedes C-Class dimensions

Length: 4,751mm
Width: 1,820mm
Height: 1,438mm
Boot space: 455 litres (PHEVs = 370 litres due to batteries, Estate = 640 litres)

Trim levels

The C-Class and E-Class have traditionally been offered in two trim levels: Sport, and AMG Line, but supply-chain shortages mean you may not be able to configure a Sport model, but AMG Line has now taken over completely, although there are sub-trim levels based around AMG Line.

C-Class trim levels

AMG Line brings leather seats, selectable driving modes, sports suspension (though the C300 e PHEV gets comfort suspension), 18-inch alloy wheels, LED lights, an 11.9-inch infotainment screen and 12.3-inch digital driver display, blind-spot assist, a reversing camera and full smartphone integration.

AMG Line Premium adds auto-dimming headlights, a different alloy wheel option, ambient lighting, memory seats, upgraded sat-nav with augmented reality, which shows a live camera feed on the screen, overlaying route-guidance graphics so you know exactly where to head.

AMG Line Premium Plus brings another different style of alloy wheel, a panoramic sunroof, a head-up driver’s display and quad-zone climate control.

E-Class trim levels

AMG Line is the entry-point to the E-Class range, and includes leather seats, 18-inch alloys, :ED lights, cruise control, a twin 10.25-inch digital displays for the dashboard gauges and infotainment system respectively, a 180-degree parking camera and wireless phone charging, amongst other goodies.

AMG Line Premium adds keyless go and an upgraded 360-degree parking camera, while the snappily titled AMG Line Night Edition Premium Plus brings gloss-black wing detailing to the exterior, plus a panoramic sunroof and a 13-speaker Burmester stereo.

Value for money

The C-Class is priced from £44,240, which is a fair bit more than the £37,805 BMW wants for an entry-level 3 Series, and significantly up on the £33,620 Audi asks for an A4.

As for the E-Class, that starts at £48,775. Again, BMW offers better value here, with the 5 Series available from £41,480; the Audi A6, meanwhile, can be had from £39,605, meaning you could have the larger BMW or Audi for less than the smaller C-Class.


Obviously you’ll need to make close comparison between what equipment and engines each manufacturer offers, and which you prefer the looks and driving experience of, but on those figures alone the C and E-Class look ambitiously priced.

All the more reason to head over to carwow, then, where our configurator will help you get a great deal on a new Mercedes – or an Audi or BMW, if you prefer.

Naturally, if you’re comparing similarly priced C-Classes and E-Classes, the former will give you more bang for your buck in terms of equipment and engine choice, while the latter offers more overall interior space.

Running costs

As they both start at over £40,000, a £355 road tax supplement runs in addition to the standard £165 rate from years two to six of the cars’ lives, for a total of £520. The plug-in hybrid models get a £10 discount on that, though.

Being equipped with modern engines, all version save the AMG performance models should return decent economy, and none will be subject to emission-based charges like those levied by London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone.

Mercedes C-Class running costs

The C300 e plug-in hybrid officially returns 565mpg (not a typo), though you’ll need to be plugging in to recharge it and driving predominantly in EV mode to get close to that. Due to its low CO2 emissions and decent EV range, the C300 e does attract a low 8% Benefit-inKind (BiK) rate for company car tax. For comparison, the C220 d diesel officially returns 58.9mpg and gets a 30% BiK rate. The petrol C200 can return up to 44.2mpg.

Mercedes E-Class running costs

The E-Class diesel plug-in hybrid 300 de manages up to 34 miles in EV mode and officially returns up to 217mpg. It also has low CO2 emissions, but due to having less EV range than the C300 e, its company-car BiK tax rate is 12%. That’s better than the E220 d, though, which officially returns 57.7mpg and gets a 30% BiK rate. The petrol E200 can return up to 39.3mpg.

Being a larger car, maintenance costs for the E-Class are likely to be slightly than for the C, though not prohibitively so. In both instances, service-payment plans from Mercedes will help spread and budget for these costs.


The Mercedes E-Class is styled to look like a miniature Mercedes S-Class, and the C-Class looks like a smaller E-Class. They’re both classy looking saloons which are sure to get you looks in the corporate car park.

The E-Class is a more subtle looking car

The E-Class is the more subtle looking of the two cars, with a focus on elegance rather than sportiness. you get the classic Mercedes wide grille at the front and sleek LED lights, front and rear. If you’r after some mor aggressive looks, you can have the AMG Line model with deeper front and rear bumpers and larger alloy wheels.

The C-Class looks more youthful

The Mercedes C-Class is a newer car than the E-Class. It’s got a sleeker, more aggressive look, however if it’s true sportiness you want then you’ll be better off with a BMW 3 Series.

Interior and infotainment

The C-Class’ cabin is one of the best in its class, with strong build quality, plenty of luxurious materials and lots of on-board tech. The dashboard itself is stylish and draws inspiration from the larger S-Class. DAB digital radio and Bluetooth connectivity are standard across the range while sporty AMG Line models get some extra sporty touches to mark them out.

The C-Class has a more modern looking interior

The E-Class steps the levels of luxury up a few notches. It’s not been updated to include Mercedes’ latest infotainment technology yet, and it’s lacking the huge portrait screen of the C-Class. It’s still a very nice place to sit though, and it feels like it’s built to last.

The E-Class’ cabin hasn’t been updated for a while

Overall, the E-Class feels better made and slightly more luxurious, whereas the C-Class has a more modern looking cabin. In terms of technology, there isn’t much to separate these two cars. They’re both very well equipped as standard, however the E-Class gets slightly more as standard.


The C-Class has impressively spacious rear seats, though they aren’t as big as the E-Class’

The Mercedes C-Class’ interior isn’t just handsome, it’s spacious too. Head and legroom in the front is impressive while, in the back, there’s a decent amount of space, although headroom is slightly dented by the sloping roofline. There are a few handy cubby holes and the 455-litre boot space is large enough for most buyers, however the opening is slightly restricted by the brake lights, while the plug-in hybrid model has a significantly smaller boot.

The E-Class has a larger boot, and more rear seat space

Unsurprisingly, the E-Class is roomier than the C-Class. Up front, there’s loads of head and legroom and there’s even more space in the back. The E-Class’ 540-litre boot is larger than some of its key rivals and has a wider opening than the C-Class making it easier to load.


The Mercedes C-Class gets a wide range of engines, starting with the C200 which gets a 1.5-litre petrol engine. You can also get higher powered 2.0-litre petrols, diesels and a plug-in hybrid. The fast 680hp C63 AMG version is due imminently, though until this arrives the 408hp C43 is the quickest model.

The E-Class gets a similar range of 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines. You can also get a 2.0-litre plug-in hybrid and a 3.0-litre diesel with 330hp. If you want high performance, you can have the AMG E53 with a 3.0-litre petrol engine putting out 435hp, and the 612hp C63 S, which is effectively a four-door supercar.

Drive comfort

The C-Class is a pleasant car to drive thanks to light, accurate controls and suspension that strikes a great balance between comfort and control. It doesn’t feel quite as nimble as the BMW 3 Series, but it soaks up bumps well provided you avoid larger alloy wheels and has a poised feel through the corners. Air suspension is an option that increases the comfort factor somewhat but is only really worth it on more expensive versions.

The E-Class is exceptionally comfy on the move – although it’s at its very best with the optional air suspension that lends it a luxury car float. The optional £1,695 Driver Pilot uses the adaptive cruise control and electric power steering to drive autonomously at speeds of up to 130mph, although you do have to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times for it to work.

Both cars are exceptional motorway cruisers, with the larger E-Class having a slight edge here. Both the C and E-Class also offer an enjoyable experience on smaller roads, though save for the performance AMG versions, a BMW 3 or 5 Series offers more driver engagement.

Safety and reliability

Both the Mercedes C-Class and E-Class scored the maximum five-stars in their latest Euro NCAP safety tests, so both will look after you if the worst should happen.

As for reliability, there are no horror stories to report with either of these cars, and both have proven to be reliable. All new Mercedes models come with a three-year warranty as well for added peace of mind.

Mercedes C-Class vs Mercedes E-Class verdict

The C-Class is the sportier of the two so, if maximum interior space isn’t your top requirement but you want something with a little more driver appeal, it’s probably the car for you. The E-Class is more refined and plusher, however. If you can afford it, the E-Class’ more rounded driving experience with a greater focus on comfort and space might swing it, but the C-Class offers much the same experience for a lower price.

It’s tricky to overlook the fact that both Audi and BMW – Mercedes’ key rivals – offer equivalents to the C-Class and E-Class for a fair bit less money. Indeed, the larger BMW 5 Series actually has a lower starting price than the C-Class. If you’re buying using finance it’s well worth looking at what the monthly repayments will be for different cars, though, as the differences may not be as stark when this is done.

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